Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik
Starring Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Beverly D'Angelo
Christmas film review by Chris Olson
“Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.”
Such is the tone of one of the funniest, slapstick Christmas movies of all time. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation stars Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold - family man and the embodiment of Christmas spirit, attempting to create the perfect holiday season for his family. Calamity ensues though, as Clark’s Christmas cheer is stretched thinner than a pine needle though with the arrival of his extended family - an entourage of feckless hazards and some trailer trash cousin-in-laws (headed by a hilarious Randy Quaid), who inadvertently spoil every one of Clark’s plans.
This film really stands up well, which is an essential quality in a Christmas film that will inevitably be pulled out of the dusty DVD cupboard each year. The comedy, at times, misfires slightly - with some gags lacking perfection with their timing, but overall this movie is bust-a-gut funny! From Clark flying off the roof trying to hang Christmas lights, to kicking the crap out of his lawn ornaments when the lights won’t turn on, this family film achieves some huge laughs, whilst uniquely commenting on some of the more unspoken feelings that Christmas can evoke: frustration, homicidal fantasies, a complete hatred of other people.
The soundtrack is wonderfully chosen, in particular during a sequence where Clark daydreams about a cashier he met, with "Mele Kalikimaka" playing in the background.
Whilst there are a few elements which date the movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation should be a tradition for comedy film fans at Christmas time. It is still a hugely enjoyable film that has some amazing performances, not least from Chase who is at the top of his game in this sort of film. Quaid is superb too, as are the older relatives whose lack of hearing and blatant rudeness is utterly splendid to watch as it quickly wears on Clark’s holiday cheer to a mere whimper.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Christmas Film Review.