Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Special: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

It's Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark (or anyone else on Christmas...), his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark's continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon.

My Thoughts
To tell you the truth, I've never seen this movie. I know I've been told I million times that it's great, but it has just never sparked my interest. I've sort of become a Chevy Chase fan, since I started watching The Community, and it does look entertaining and slightly similar to my own family Christmases, so I might enjoy it...Let's find out!

The animated beginning was pretty funny...showing us all the possible things that could go run if Santa tries to deliver presents to that 'unlucky' house...

Has anyone else lived through that embarrassing car ride, when the parents sing Christmas carols at the top of their lungs while the kids sit in the back seat rolling their eyes...and then the dad gets some road rage and ruins the whole Christmas spirit, but I guess they made it to the Christmas tree lot.

I wish it was always that easy to pick a family always took forever walking around and arguing over which one was better...Do we want a Blue Spruce? Nahhhh...Do we want that one? Big space...What about that one? Too crooked...If only a beam of light had come down and shown us which tree to pick... :-)

'The boss enters' scenes are always weird...I feel like most bosses probably don't walk around like a general entering a war room with have their troops marching behind them. Unless they are a general entering a war room...but you never know what those big corporate guys will do I guess.

And then the parents arrive...I never understood why in-laws don't get along. My parents' parents seemed to be okay, but they also had an entire country between them for most of the time. I do feel for the son, Russ...grandparents do tend to ask you for awkward favors that you can't say no to, because they're your grandparent.

I'm totally fine with surprise visits from old friends...but if you're planning on staying at my house for an entire month, could you at least let me know? That's kind of a long time...

At least Clark was smart enough to try the sled before his kids, but this movie takes the humor a little too far. I'm all for unrealistic humor, but the sled didn't need rocket boosters to make it funny...Come on, guys. I know a lot of people find that stuff hilarious. I guess I just need it to at least be in the realm of possibility for my poor logical mind to find it entertaining...

Then you get the old couple that's supposed to add all that ageism humor. They can't hear, they're always confused, and they're always yelling. They were only 80, though...I don't feel like that's super old. I guess it's pretty old...

I think the crazed squirrel in the new Christmas tree was the best part of this movie. Not positive why every person's reaction is to scream or faint, but squirrels are pretty quick...

"Fun, old-fashioned family Christmas". Yeah...that how all our Christmases go, too. I'm sure Dad's pep talk and Christmas magic will bring the family back together for Christmas...As always. The family comes together, the boss learns his lesson, the house gets surrounded by police cards...wait. Oh, it's okay, just Christmas at the Griswold house...

I was not a fan of this movie. And I know that my opinion might get be in some hot water with some people, but I just don't find this kind of humor entertaining. Parts of it were great. But the movie, overall, I just found to be trying way too hard to be funny...which makes things not that funny to me. Sorry, everyone who loves this movie...but I will most likely not be watching it again. :-\

Where I Recognize the Characters From:
Clark - Chevy Chase - The Community
Rusty - Johnny Galecki - The Big Bang Theory
Clark Sr. - John Randolph - Roseanne (which Johnny Galecki was also in)
Nora - Diane Ladd - Er and Touched by an Angel (John Randolph was also in both of these...)
Art - E.G. Marshall - 12 Angry Men
Francis - Doris Roberts - Everybody Loves Raymond
Eddie - Randy Quaid - Independence Day
Margo - Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine

Random Facts
The movie is based on John Hughes' short story "Christmas '59", the second Vacation story to be published in National Lampoon's Magazine (the first was "Vacation '58", which was the basis for the first Vacation movie). The Christmas story was printed in December 1980. The label on the home movie reel that Clark finds in the attic is labeled "Xmas '59".

Frank Capra III, the grandson of It's a Wonderful Life director, Frank Capra, was the assistant director of Christmas Vacation.

The Griswolds' neighbor's house is the same house Murtaugh and his family lived in through all the Lethal Weapon movies. The houses on this street are on the Warner Brothers Studios back lot.

The house front from Bewitched and The New Gidget appears in the home movie that Clark is watching in the attic.

After Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) unsuccessfully attempts to demonstrate his handiwork with the house Christmas lights to his family, he asks his son, Rusty (Johnny Galecki), to help him check all the light bulbs again. Rusty looks at his bare wrist, pretending to have a watch, and excuses himself. Looking at a bare wrist and pretending to have a watch is one of Chevy Chase's trademark gags. (I didn't know that was anyone's trademark gag...Isn't it everyone's?)

Final screen appearance of Mae Questel (Bethany), who's film career began in 1930 as the the voice of Betty Boop.

The old Dodge pickup that tailgates Clark and the family in the opening scenes of the movie was previously used as Kurt Russell's work truck in the movie Overboard.

The only Vacation movie to not feature the Lindsey Buckingham song "Holiday Road" throughout the entire film.

Chevy Chase appears in some scenes wearing a black Chicago Bears ball cap. He wears the same cap throughout all four Vacation movies.

In the scene when the police storm into the Griswolds' house, the song "Here Comes Santa Claus" sung by Gene Autry is used for the background music. Randy Quaid (cousin Eddie) is the third cousin of Gene Autry.

A minor earthquake occurred at the time when they were filming the scene where uncle Louis and aunt Bethany arrive at the Griswold house.

The brand of beer Eddie is drinking as he empties his septic tank is Meister Brau.

When shopping with Clark, Eddie asks Clark if it was his company that "killed all those people in India". He's referencing the Bhopal disaster, also known as the Union Carbide disaster in which leaks from a Union Carbide pesticide plant escaped into the air, killing thousands of people and sickening many more.

When Clark is in bed trying to read the People Magazine with sticky fingers from the tree sap, the person shown on the cover of the magazine is Producer Matty Simmons.

This is one of three films released in 1989 to feature an animated title sequence. The other two are Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (one of my favorites from when I was a kid) and Troop Beverly Hills.

The scene where the cat bites on the Christmas lights and gets electrocuted was nearly cut from the movie. Prior to the first test screening, the studio execs wanted the scene taken out, fearing it might offend some viewers, but producer Simmons begged them to leave it in, and they eventually gave in. After the first test screening, the test audience had scored the cat electrocution as the No. 1 favorite scene throughout the entire movie.

Clark (Chevy Chase) uses thirty words to describe his boss (Brian Doyle-Murray).

Despite being a "Christmas movie," Christmas Day is never actually seen. The film ends on Christmas Eve.

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