Christmas Vacation (1989)

Comedy
Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki
The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.
While Christmas Vacation may not be the most disciplined comedy, it's got enough laughs and good cheer to make for a solid seasonal treat.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 01 Dec 1989 Released:
  • 18 Nov 1997 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • John Hughes Writer:
  • Jeremiah S. Chechik Director:
  • N/A Website:

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Trailer:

Holidays are only complete with this movie5/10

My Christmas is filled with ritual, as I guess most people's are. Part of that ritual is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, about which I have nothing but good things to say. This should be part of your Holiday season too, because despite it not seeming like it all the way through, the film as a whole is just so thoroughly festive, cheery and good-hearted.


It opens with a great set-piece, Clark taking his family out in the "front-wheel drive sleigh" to dig their Christmas tree out of the snow-covered ground. He's a desperate loser, but you have to love the guy, working his butt off to give his extended family the perfect Christmas. (That's the difference in this Vacation movie, by the way - the Griswolds don't go anywhere, their folks come to them).

So the shenanigans finding a tree set the pattern for a season of chaos, fighting in-laws, squirrels, stupid relatives, huge dogs, snooty neighbours and collapsing turkeys. And as if that wasn't stress enough for poor Clark, he's waiting for his Christmas bonus to come through to cover a cheque he's already written.

The script brims with festive jollity, enthusing the audience with Clark's excitement for the holidays. Stand out moments include the welcome (and hilarious) return of Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie, the uber-hick sponger with a trailer-full of weirdo kids and rubber sheets, and Mae Questel's appearance as Aunt Bethany. She used to voice Betty Boo, and plays the crazy old woman to perfection.

See this movie. Get it on video. I normally watch it the first time on a miserable October Sunday, when I start to think properly about Christmas. Nothing can replace this movie as the one thing guaranteed to get me looking forward to late December. Fabulous stuff, and as festive for me as tinsel and carols. Cuddle up with this one.
Funny, Funny, Funny10/10

This is the one Christmas movie that I don't anyone can ever get tired of. Chevy Chase returns in the third installment of the Vacation series as Clarke W. Griswold as he tries desperately to maintain his sanity during the holidays with all of his relatives coming to stay under his roof and enduring all the mishaps along the way.

This is the funniest film in the series plain and simple. Chevy Chase has never been better. Christmas Vacation is filled with countless jokes and gags that it's impossible not to laugh.

10/10
The Perfect Holiday Comedy10/10

The Griswold family is set to celebrate the holidays like never before, in `National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,' directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and written by John Hughes. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) has decided to have a traditional, old-fashioned family Christmas, and has invited his parents and in-laws to stay with them through the season. He has a surprise he wants to share with everyone this year; with his Christmas bonus from work, he's putting in a pool, to which he's already committed the down-payment money (so the bonus had better come through, big time, or he's `in it up to here'). To kick off the season, he takes Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and the kids, Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki) to the mountains to find the perfect `Griswold family Christmas tree. And it's only the first of one hilarious scene after another, as we follow Clark and clan through one long laugh-fest, filled with surprises and fun. Chase is at his best here, in the most enduring (and endearing) character he's ever done; Clark the Everyman, who only wants the best things for his family and himself, but whose plans more often than not go awry, doomed to fall just short of realization. When he decorates the outside of the house, he uses 25,000 twinkle lights; they use enough juice to black-out an entire neighborhood, and they do (once he can get them to work). Then when cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) show up unexpectedly in the `RV' they now call home, Eddie asks Clark if he's surprised to see him. Surprised? Eddie is the last person on earth Clark expected, or wanted, to see. `Eddie,' he tells him, `I couldn't be more surprised if I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet.' Another memorable scene involves a wild squirrel who came in with the Christmas tree and proceeds to make his appearance during dinner, only to provoke a wild romp upstairs and down as they all pursue (and in some cases try to elude) the deadly invader. A terrific cast was assembled for this movie, but Quaid is the stand-out, and he perfects the Eddie character in this one; forever the lamebrain with the big heart, and the one who takes the situation in hand when Clark's bonus turns out to be an enrollment in a jelly-of-the-month club. Clark's parents are played by Diane Ladd (Nora) and John Randolph (Clark, Sr.), and Ellen's by Doris Roberts (Frances) and E.G. Marshall (Art). Other notable performances are turned in by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Margo) and Nicholas Guest (Todd), as Clark's yuppie next door neighbors, and also by William Hickey (Uncle Lewis) and Mae Questel (Aunt Bethany). Rounding out the supporting cast are Nicolette Scorsese (Mary), Cody Burger (Rocky), Ellen Hamilton Latzen (Ruby Sue) and Brian Doyle-Murray (Frank Shirley). `National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' is timeless comedy, a must for every video collection. It can be watched over and over again, and the humor stays fresh while the laughs get even bigger. There's a little bit of every family in here, and this movie may be just the tonic you'll need some day to get you through your own `special' holiday season. I rate this one 10/10.
A wonderful comedy and Christmas movie5/10

This is probably the best Vacation film to come from the National Lampoon series. There are so many laughs to go around (thanks to writer John Hughes) that it boggles the mind (and it might be the final time Checy Chase brings belly laughs). Here, the Griswalds don't go on a vacation, but instead the family stays in Chicago where there relatives come to town and hell will come too. Randy Quaid makes this film a treat by having just laugh out loud moments on the screen. Great fun for the whole family (I think). A+
Best Vaction/Christmas Movie10/10
Poor Clark Griswold, no matter how optimistic he is, his family vacations always seem to go severely wrong. First time around he went across America in a metallic pea Station Wagon and it ended in disaster. Then they went across Europe and met similar, albeit much less funny, results.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Griswolds, Clark is food additives expert who works for a company that doesn't appreciate him. He sets high standards for holiday events that no one can live up to and is notorious for dragging his grudging family along on every painstaking detail of every scheme. His wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) is the voice of reason, who keeps the family rooted in reality and responds with frequent deadpan bewilderment to his constant disasters. The long-suffering kids, Russ and Audrey (Johnny Galecki and a very young Juliette Lewis) have turned into the living embodiment of pure cynicism, but there's no talking any sense into Clark Griswold. Ever!

But now Clark just wants to stay at home in the snowy Chicago suburbs for a 'fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas' and he's going to let nothing stop him. His enthusiasm for the holidays manages to infect the audience and you'll be rooting for him the whole way. He's an anti-Scrooge and if you're having a Christmas crisis then you need to watch this movie. Any disasters can be overcome.

But that's easier said than done. He didn't bargain on bickering family members (including the voice of Betty Boop, Mae Questel, as a senile old aunt), a house covered in non-working Christmas lights, a seriously over-cooked turkey, snotty Yuppie neighbors making fun of him or Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his hickabilly family turning up unannounced to sponge some Christmas cheer off him.

What stops it from being just another generic Christmas movie is a brilliant script by John Hughes packed full of hilarious set-pieces and perfect comic timing from Chevy Chase. He's a great actor but his appeal sadly declined in the 90s when he refused to evolve into more serious roles like Bill Murray did. Clark Griswold and Fletch are probably his most famous roles and this Vacation is definitely one you need to take.

It's hard to pick the best moments but Randy Quaid's sudden appearance will make you grin a mile wide, a cat wrapped up in a box (with Happy Birthday paper!) that meets an unfortunate end and 'an asshole in his bathrobe emptying a chemical toilet into the sewer' are just plain brilliant. But what gives Christmas Vacation something more that makes it so much more special that all the other Christmas movies is that wonderful theme song! It's absolutely brilliant! But that ain't the only great tune the film as to offer. There are also some classic songs by Ray Charles, Bing Crosby and Gene Autry.

Although not the best of the bunch (Harold Ramis' direction had an evil edge to the first film that made it just that little bit better), this film has become a Yuletide classic and must be watched every year. Since Christmas is full of annual traditions this film is definitely one you should add to the list. It would criminal to give it anything less that the highly coveted 10/10.