Saturday, December 24, 2016

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989)




Directed By: Jeremiah Chechik 
Written By: John Hughes 
Cinematography By: Thomas Ackerman 
Editor: Jerry Greenberg & Michael Stevenson 
Music By: Angelo Badalamenti 


Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, John Randolph, Diane Ladd, E.G. Marshall, Randy Quaid, Doris Roberts, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Johnny Gaelecki, Juliette Lewis, Sam McMurray, Brian Doyle-Murray, William Hickey, Nicolette Scorsese 


*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review


It's Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark, 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.

It's hard to Believe but this films at this point for many people it is a Christmas classic. Even though None of the movie actually occurs on Christmas. The final scene is late Christmas Eve.

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," a further allusion.

John Hughes was asked if he wanted to write a new film for the Vacation series. He said he would only do it if he had a good story to use, as by this point the franchise was a Chevy Chase vehicle and there was little need for him to write a story. He found one called Christmas '59 from his time working at National Lampoon Magazine that he thought was good, so he agreed to write the script. Maybe that is why the film hits all the right points.

This film accomplishes a rare feat of actually getting better or at least my enjoyment of it growing each time I see it which is usually around the holidays. So let's just say every year.

I suppose it might be nostalgia as this is a movie my father took me to and he has passed since then. So the film's theme of family and togetherness rings true more and more as I get older. As it seems rare and harder for my family at least to get together around the holidays.

Though primarily the older I get it seems more for children. This film at least shows it's about togetherness and the warmth and love one should have. Even for those relative a who you might not see eye to eye with always.

As I said before I saw this film In theaters one of the few times I have ever been late for a film. So on subsequent watches the first 15 - 20 minutes almost always seem new to me.

I am not the biggest Chevy Chase fan, but st least In this film he truly seems to be in his element. Maybe it's the return to playing this character. So that he knows all the familiar grooves of him.

This is the third and probably Last good film in the Griswold family films. This time the fun is had more at home and having people more come to see them. Instead of like in previous films having them travel.

What makes this film especially strong other than the recognizable supporting cast. The film keeps with the familiar of having a new actor and actress play the role of Rusty and Audrey But they are noteworthy for having BIG BANG THEORY'S Johnny Gaelecki and Juliette Lewis in early roles playing them. Though within such a big cast they don't have as much to do as previous films.

This series quality of course diminishes with each sequel. What makes this one I. Particular work is that it has plenty of comedic moments, but gives each character their time to shine. Usually it seems these films give Clark Griswold a Naïveté which in the third act makes him lose it and go maniacally crazy. Except in the second one. Here he does but is not the one who causes the main caper at the end as usual. Though he has a mental break more out of shock it is expected and only a momentary thing. Where as what he has to or up with throughout the film. As his crazy family members keep causing problems and stress which usually result in some catastrophe or accident resulting in physical pain that if not a movie might cripple some.

The film hits familiar notes, such as Clark's roving eye that seems to fantasize about a different supermodel looking woman each film. It adds some new ones also. Though as always. No matter what Clark is always a klutz.

Though that is what lies at the heart of the film. It is one of the last examples of a family man and also such a satire of families that the films really after the first film are nothing more than love action cartoons to a degree. Chevy chase is the Charlie Chaplin of the series surrounded by many comedic familiar faces. Here he serves almost as an acrobat with his nimbleness through the slapstick comedic sequences of physical comedy.

The third act surprise or trouble is more triggered through scene stealer Randy Quaid's Uncle Eddie. Who in the first film seemed more loathsome. Here he is a parody of southern rednecks. It he is funny and means well. Obviously more of a comedic character but he is also another part of the film where there is heart where maybe brains should be.

Though most of the trouble is caused by his family rather than him. Like his grandfathers cigar smoking starting a fire. Clark has some self made problems of his own. The sledding glide incident and the Christmas lights come to mind in particular other than the last minute Christmas tree.

This is a family comedy that is indentifiable for the audience and manages to be funny without being raunchy. It is a family film with more adult themes. It's one of those rare movies where like the characters it means well and comes across as timeless.

It has sweet moments like the one where after getting locked in the attic accidentally. Clark watches old family movies only to end the scene with him falling out of the attic after his wife Ellen finally opens the attic door. So you have the sweet with the slapstick.

According to an article on the making of HOME ALONE in Chicago Magazine, Chris Columbus states that he was the original director of this movie. Although he filmed some second-unit establishing shots (which he claims are still in the finished film), he left after two meetings with Chevy Chase and told writer/producer John Hughes, "There's no way I can do this movie. I know I need to work, but I can't do it with this guy." He was sent the script to Home Alone in its place.

Chevy Chase's 30-word rant against the boss was completely unscripted.

It's one of those untouchable holiday movies where the quality. Which isn't great but good. Doesn't really matter as it is a film that has found it's way into more people heart as it seems to be a film passed down by generations and with it's constant airing seems embedded into children and families from a young age. It's got more heart than anything else.


Grade: B

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