So, I’ve been watching Christmas films for FIVE WEEKS! That’s a long time to be watching Christmas films by anyone’s standards. But I’m ploughing on with another American comedy.
And today it’s…
4th December, Day 35
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989)
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) just wants to have a nice family Christmas. With wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), daughter Audrey (this time played by Juliette Lewis) and son Rusty (Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki stepping into the role), he goes to get the biggest Christmas tree he can find, and gets one so big it crashes through the windows of the living room. Their parents all arrive for Christmas, and the bickering commences. Clark is intent on having a happy Christmas, and that his house will be the most festive in the neighbourhood with it 25,000 twinkling lights. At first they don’t work, but with some perseverance – and much to the chagrin of neighbours Todd (Nicholas Guest) and Margo (Seinfeld and Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus) – they finally come on, causing a citywide blackout.
However, just when things are looking up, the Griswold’s slobby cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) arrives with his family in an RV. When Clark starts to worry about his bonus, his neighbours out for revenge, and now an unwanted cousin staying on his driveway, will the Griswold’s be able to enjoy a Happy Christmas?
I’m a big fan of the original Nation Lampoon’s Vacation and the sequel European Vacation, but this is definitely a lesser entry in the trilogy. Similar to Nativity and The Santa Clause in this countdown, and countless comedy sequels and threequels, the appeal of the original has been lost by the third installment. In particular this is a very patchy film, which doesn’t benefit from the road trip aspect of the first two films to keep the film moving along. A good example of this is the very first scene which sees the Griswold’s getting their Christmas tree. It’s funny, but doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the film. In fact, the film is a strange patchwork, with Cousin Eddie added seemingly to just pad the film out to an acceptable length. Most of the comedy comes from Chevy Chase’s slapstick act, but it wears a bit thin.
The subplot of Clark worrying about his bonus is also a strange one. Everything else in the film is an simple, honest man trying to do the best for his family, but a need to build a swimming pool for his family doesn’t make you root for him in the same way. Again, it only seems to be there to give the film a way to move towards a finale.
For a John Hughes script it is surprisingly perfunctory. He wrote Uncle Buck the same year and Home Alone the next, but this feels like a contractual obligation for him.
Overall, I give this
I preferred it when they went away for their vacation!
Tomorrow we stay in Eighties America with SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2
11th November, Day 12: About A Boy
12th November, Day 13: Trapped In Paradise
13th November, Day 14: Reindeer Games
14th November, Day 15: Joyeux Noel
15th November, Day 16: Nativity / Nativity 2 / Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
16th November, Day 17: Jack Frost
17th November, Day 18: Jack Frost
18th November, Day 19: Arthur Christmas
19th November, Day 20: The Santa Clause / The Santa Clause 2 / The Santa Clause 3
20th November, Day 21: Miracle On 34th Street
21st November, Day 22: Miracle On 34th Street
22nd November, Day 23: Scrooged
23rd November, Day 24: Scrooge
24th November, Day 25: The Muppets Christmas Carol
25th November, Day 26: Elf
26th November, Day 27: Home Alone / Home Alone 2
27th November, Day 28: The Grinch
28th November, Day 29: Black Christmas
29th November, Day 30: Jingle All The Way
30th November, Day 31: Rare Exports
1st December, Day 32: Polar Express
2nd December, Day 33: A Christmas Story
3rd December, Day 34: Bad Santa
4th December, Day 35: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation