December 22, 2015

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Review #771: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold, Jr), Beverly D'Angelo (Ellen Griswold), Randy Quaid (Cousin Eddie), Juliette Lewis (Audrey Griswold), Johnny Galecki (Rusty Griswold), John Randolph (Clark Griswold, Sr), Diane Ladd (Nora Griswold), E. G. Marshall (Art Smith), Doris Roberts (Frances Smith), Miriam Flynn (Cousin Catherine), Cody Burger (Cousin Rocky), Nicholas Guest (Todd Chester), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Margo Chester), and Brian Doyle-Murray (Frank Shirley) Directed by Jeremiah Chechik.

Please forgive me for not having watched the two Vacation films released before this one. They (along with Vegas Vacation) will be reviewed in 2016. Probably.

Ah Christmas. It's a time of year in which families try to eat food and get along with each other...and other stuff, because I usually just stay home. But I can relate to at least a few things in the movie, particularly the sticky sap tree, and trying to get a collection of lights to work...though I can't say I ever had that many lights (of course I keep my lights on the tree). The characters are pretty much what you probably have in your own family (no I won't reuse this line later) on Christmas, from over-determined to...bighearted to (insert number) degree of grumpy relatives. Chase certainly sells Griswold's lingering madness well. D'Angelo (along with Lewis and Galecki) certainly make for a good cinema family. My favorite scene with them is the opening scene, especially the part about getting a big ol' Christmas tree in the forest. The buildup to it is pretty enjoyable as well (I can relate in a sense to dealing with drivers from the past with my dad). Sure, there are moments when bitterness and circumstance get in the way, but in the end, it's all full of cheer.

In the pile of Christmas films (which apparently is almost 40) I've reviewed in five years, Christmas Vacation has moments of hilarity, but the movie's real strength is the seasonal charm that the movie evokes, especially the enthusiasm of the main character. It's interesting how comedies like this can be christened Christmas classics, but I can see why. It's not a perfect movie, but it just fits the bill of being a Christmas movie that one can accept.

Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.

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