Appreciating National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Appreciating National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Appreciating National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

If you’re still in the mood for a good Christmas movie, I have a recommendation. It’s a film from 1989 and features a very young Leonard. You know, the character from The Big Bang Theory. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of the show, but Johnny Galecki is a funny guy. If I’m being more honest, I actually keep forgetting he was in this movie, because he was about thirteen or fourteen at the time. Any guesses? I’m talking about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It has a young Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as the famous fictional couple, Clark and Ellen Griswold. They’ve been a part of the franchise since the beginning, but other than including a young Johnny Galecki, it also had a young Juliette Lewis. How many times were Russell and Audrey Griswold recast? I’ve lost count, but these two were fine replacements.

Oh, and let’s not forget Randy Quaid as the black sheep/redneck hick of the Griswold family, cousin Eddie. There’s no way we can forget about Eddie. Boy, do I miss Randy Quaid. Other recognizable faces are Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from Seinfeld. Talk about an all-star cast.

This Christmas movie has become a family tradition to watch every holiday in my house. Last I checked, it’s been on TV every other day, so I’ve actually been watching it a lot. I won’t lie, it’s hard for me to get tired of it. And I’ll confess, it makes me love Chevy Chase, the guy who apparently everybody in Hollywood hates working with. You know what? The guy makes me laugh and he’s beyond hilarious in Christmas Vacation, I won’t concern myself too much with his work reputation.

So why do I value National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation so much? What makes it so much different from the other Christmas movies? Well, for starters, it certainly is a Christmas movie about family. Nearly every Christmas movie is about family, but this one does it in a way that practically every family can relate to.

Christmas is that holiday where family should get together. It’s not a time for partying and all-night drinking like New Year’s Eve or the seventeenth of March. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is about family coming together and just appreciating the presence of each other. I mean, sure, there is drinking involved, but it’s more about being together. That’s what I dug so much about Christmas Vacation. On top of that, they made it realistic. In other words, the Griswold family didn’t always get along. In fact, many of them heavily disliked each other, but they sucked it up and spend Christmas together. Why? Because that’s what Christmas is all about. Plus, many of them had children and they knew they were the ones who enjoyed it the most.

Well, that actually wasn’t the case for Clark Griswold. In fact, he was the grown family man who was running that Christmas night. He was looking forward to it more than anyone and he was arguably the only one. During that attic scene, we got to see why having a big family Christmas meant so much to him. As a child, Christmas was a special holiday for him but he always thought he could do it better. His conversation with his father revealed that he wasn’t fully satisfied with his past Christmas’s. Yes, Clark was chasing after that big Christmas bonus, but his ultimate goal was to still have a grate family Christmas with his family.

As for the Christmas bonus, that scene where he initially gets stiffed by his boss was classic. Seriously, that rant was pure gold. Call him selfish, but to be fair, he was thinking about his family because he was going to use it to put in a swimming pool. Can you blame the guy for thinking about the summer in Illinois where summer’s are too short? As a guy who lives in Illinois, I can relate to that feeling.

Clark Griswold is one of those adults who still had that little kid in him who always got so excited during Christmas. He even worked harder than anyone else would when it came to Christmas. From driving out in the middle of sub-zero nowhere to get a real tree (and not bring a saw), to decorating literally every square inch of his house with Christmas lights, Clark was dead serious about having the ultimate family Christmas. He had it all planned out and it could’ve gone well, that is until the whole family arrived.

Now this is where Christmas Vacation can be so relatable. When families get together for the holidays, they can do all kinds of things. They can annoy you, they can entertain you, or they can do both. That’s normally how it plays out for most families. Clark’s abrasive uncle Lewis accidentally burned down his tree, Eddie’s dog practically destroyed his kitchen, and his aunt Bethany said the pledge of allegiance instead of grace. It’s actually a Christmas miracle that Clark managed to even get through that insane Christmas night. Then the “Christmas bonus” came and then Clark lost his nerve. Honestly, who can blame him?

However, Clark just refused to give up. Sure, he basically stopped everyone from leaving with some hilarious banter, but in a way, he just wouldn’t concede. Even in a Christmas movie, there was that “all hope is lost” moment that would put most men to their knees. Clark, however, stayed true to his goal. It actually took seeing Eddie hold his boss hostage to realize that he was putting his own aspirations in front of his family. He took it like a man, however, and called out his boss’s greed. In the end, he actually got his Christmas bonus and realized that Christmas was just about being with the ones he loved.

During that whole chaotic night when he was struggling to have a good Christmas, he didn’t realize that he was actually going through it all with his family. That’s why this movie is a special kind of Christmas movie. It has the comedy that hits at every corner, but what it really boils down to is going through a crazy, but fun Christmas night with your family, no matter how dysfunctional they are. Let’s face it, every family has black sheep like Eddie. He’s the annoying cousin who always follows you around and wants your attention. However, he eventually wins you over because he just wants your love. Now that’s something most families can relate to.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? If you still haven’t seen this old classic, I implore you to check it out.

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