Make merry as Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid and an ensemble of comedy favorites strive to gift-wrap the "perfect Christmas" for the Griswold family. The most successful of the three vacations. Year: 1989 Direc... more »tor: Jeremiah S. Chechik Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid,« less
"You really take your life in your hands every time you sit down with a Chevy Chase film. Let's face reality here: Chevy Chase is responsible for several of the worst movies ever made. Does it take more than a few minutes of viewing to see the mind numbing folly of "Nothing But Trouble," "The Three Amigos," and "Spies Like Us"? Chase has sure had his truly embarrassing moments on the big screen. What redeems the guy, at least in my eyes, are several films that play up to the comedian's smart alecky, deadpan delivery. "Fletch," of course, is the gold standard of Chevy Chase films, but other movies showcase his talents just as well. I always thought "Deal of the Century" a classic Chase film, as well as "Foul Play" (although the latter was more of an ensemble picture). But we need look no further than the four National Lampoon Vacation films to truly judge the merits of this comedian turned actor. Actually, I should say three Vacation films since the second installment, where the Griswold family went on a tour of Europe, ranks as one of the most dreadful stories ever put on film. Of the three successful entries, "Christmas Vacation" is the best, perhaps even eclipsing the first movie that started it all.
You won't hear the familiar strains of Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" in "Christmas Vacation," and there are no corpses strapped to the top of a station wagon either. Instead, the film invites us into the Griswold home for an old fashioned Christmas celebration the likes of which soon reach catastrophic levels. Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) Griswold, along with their disinterested kids Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Russ (Johnny Galecki), invite the whole family over for a season filled with happiness. Clark's parents Clark Sr. (John Randolph) and Nora (Diane Ladd) show up, as does Ellen's folks Art (E.G. Marshall) and Frances (Doris Roberts). And yes, even Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) makes an appearance to save the day. Of course, along with the family comes the inevitable frustrations and stresses everyone who has ever dealt with a reunion dreads. Clark Griswold refuses, at least initially, to fall into a morass of cynicism and despair amidst the bickering and insults. His invention of a new milk preservative has our hero hoping his Christmas bonus will be extra big this year, big enough so he can install an in ground swimming pool in the backyard. Unfortunately, his boss Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray) is a scrooge with plans to make the company more fiscally conservative.
While he waits for the check to arrive at the house, Clark embarks on several hilarious projects that haul in the belly laughs. His attempts to cover every square inch of his house with Christmas lights is a chore requiring several falls off a ladder, pointed verbal repartees with his snotty neighbors Margo and Todd Chester (Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Nicholas Guest), and repeated failures to get the strands to light up. The acquisition and installment of the Griswold family Christmas tree is another chore handled in Clark's inimitable style. Imagine the pine they string up in Rockefeller Square every year, subtract roughly five feet from its height, and you have the tree Clark insists on setting up in the house. This thing is so huge that the branches knock out the windows when Griswold cuts the rope holding the branches together. No Yuletide season, however, would be complete without a trip to the slopes for a sledding excursion, an event filled with disastrous implications when Griswold comes up with the bright idea to cover the bottom of his sled with a Teflon based substance. My favorite scenario involves Clark trapped in his attic for a few hours. He spends his time dressed up in women's clothing (to stay warm) watching old home movies of his childhood. His abrupt fall through the trap door had me laughing for hours afterwards.
The cast of "Christmas Vacation" gels fantastically, far better than any cast in the other three films. Kudos as always go to Randy Quaid as the squirrelly moocher Eddie; a film in this series just wouldn't be the same without this character driving Clark to fits of distraction. Beverly D'Angelo is one of those actresses who get hotter and hotter with age. The linchpin of the film is, as always, Chevy Chase as the disaster prone Clark Griswold. This is a role tailor made for his brand of clumsy, caustic humor. I don't know about you, but Chase's depiction reminds me in many ways of my own father--he won't listen to the advice of anyone else, his ideas are the best ideas, he tosses safety to the wind when working on dangerous projects, etc. But like my Dad--and probably countless other fathers--Clark is sincere and wants his loved ones to have wonderful family memories. The film works so well, I suspect, because most of us instantly recognize his character traits in our own beloved family patriarchs. Especially when Clark can't stand the pressure anymore and launches into one of his over the top tirades, again a trademark of our own fed up fathers.
Although the DVD carries the "Special Edition" tag, the extras are surprisingly sparse. A trailer and a commentary constitute the sum total of goodies available on the disc. Moreover, the commentary doesn't include Chevy Chase. At least you hear Randy Quaid, Beverly D'Angelo, Johnny Galecki, Miriam Flynn (Eddie's wife Catherine), director Jeremiah Chechik, and producer Marty Simmons, but why no Clark W. Griswold? Perhaps he wanted too much money. His absence is unfortunate and mars what is otherwise a great commentary track. I don't even wait until Christmas to watch this movie; it's fun works year round. If you haven't seen it yet, you ought to immediately. You'll love it. "
At Long Last!!!!!!!!!!
Andy Radke | Guelph, Ontario CANADA | 07/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, after all this time, Warner Brothers have come to their senses. On October 7th, we will be treated to a heftly helping of one of the greatest Christmas films to ever grace the silver screen............in WIDESCREEN.I was extremely disappointed with the previous DVD release of this film which contained a pan & scan presentation and nothing more than a theatrical trailer in the extras department.What we have here is a special edition of this great movie, which will contain audio commentary from both Beverly D'Angelo and Chevy Chase, a "making of" featurette, as well as other stocking stuffers which have yet to be disclosed at this present time. Being a huge fan of this movie, I honestly can't wait for this release. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" has become a holiday tradition in my home, and to be able to see it the way it was intended to be seen is truly a treat for me.Aside from the features of the disk, the film itself is the true gift. One of the funniest movies today which still withstands the test of time even 15 years later. The premise is simple. Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) is hell bent on having an old-fashioned family Christmas in his home, relatives and all. Of course, the hilarity kicks in when things start to go awry. There are so many hilarious scenes in this movie, it would be difficult to list them all. You have everything from an electrocuted cat, to a house with the brightest Christmas light display known to man. Let's not forget the dried up turkey, the saucer sled and the dog/squirrel chase! There's so much more I could say to praise this movie, but if you haven't already seen it, [I won't say more]"
It's Christmas, and We're All in Misery . . . .
john thomas | 12/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With apologies to Jimmy Stewart and Ralphie Parker, this is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. If you are reading this because you have never seen "Christmas Vacation", stop right now and go to the video store and rent it. Then come back here and order your own copy because you'll want to watch it over and over again each holiday season.The undisputed gem of the National Lampoon 'Vacation' series, the plot can be summed up very simply: idealistic family man Clark Griswold wants to host the perfect old-fashioned fun family Christmas. As all of us idealistic family men have discovered, there is no such thing as a perfect holiday, and that just about sums it up. The appeal of this film is that we can all relate to the disasters that holidays can become, regardless of how well-meaning we are and how hard we work to achieve them. The cast is terrific. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo (Ellen) are back as the Griswolds, with Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki assuming the roles of Audrey and Rusty. John Randolph and Diane Ladd are Clark's parents, while E.G. Marshall and the ultimate mother-in-law, Doris Roberts are Ellen's parents. Nicholas Guest and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss are Todd and Margo, the yuppie neighbors. William Hickey and Mae Questel (the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl) nearly steal the show as Uncle Lewis and senile Aunt Bethany. Randy Quaid does steal the show - his "cousin-in-law" Eddie is one of the all-time great characters in recent comedy history.The self-inflicted situations that befall Clark in his holiday quest are peppered with memorable dialogue and slapstick, yet believable enough to bring flickers of recognition to most viewers. Witness his mishaps on the roof putting up the lights; getting trapped in the attic; spending his Christmas bonus before he gets it; dealing with his snooty neighbors; and getting hilariously tongue-tied at the lingerie counter and being remarkably eloquent when he gets his "bonus". Admit it. We've all been there.A holiday movie should be one that holds up to repeated viewings, and this one does. Besides the excellent cast and the familiar situations, there is a great score by Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks), the animated opening credits sequence, and some fine tunes such as "Hey Santa Claus" by the Moonglows! There are numerous little touches that you might not catch the first several times - check out the shape of the packages in Mr. Shirley's office when Clark gives him his gift, and see what happens to the light bulbs Clark puts in the cart at the Wal-Mart.I suspect, like in our home, "Christmas Vacation" has become a sort of institution in many homes each holiday season. We like to get together with friends to watch it, with everyone dressing as a character from the movie. We eat green jello with "cat food" in it, stand and join in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner, recite the lines along with the characters, and give thanks that our holidays are at least a little better than the Griswolds'."
Impossible not to laugh
halo1000 | A Warm Place | 12/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the Christmas season approaching, I thought I'd give my review of Christmas Vacation. While some people are watching It's a Wonderful Life, I'm watching the hilarious antics of Clark W. Griswold. If you've seen the other Vacation movies, you know that poor old Clark W. Griswold brings disaster with him wherever he goes. Although, with this go-round, he stays home this time, trying to throw a "Good-old-fashioned-family Christmas". But, of course, there's disaster at every corner. Clark staples himself to a storm gutter putting up Christmas lights, which cause brownouts. A squirrel lives in his Christmas tree. His cousin's doberman brings down the house. Literally. His snooty neighbors won't cut him any slack. He puts an experimental kitchen lubricant on his pan sled. And, on top of that, his hilariously goofy cousin (Randy Quaid) shows up without warning. The cast is great. Chevy Chase is, as always, histerical, as is Beverly D'Angelo as his smart-aleck wife. Julia-Louis Dreyfus is great as one of Clark's stuck-up neighbors, but the funniest role has to be Randy Quaid as Clark's redneck cousin, Eddie. Quaid was perfect for that role, as well as the rest of Clark's and Ellen's families. I also like the animated Santa intro to the movie, where Santa visits the Griswold residence. If you think you're having a bad holiday, one viewing of this film will quickly change your mind. If you don't laugh at this movie, I will come over to your house and force you to watch this movie several times over. You have to see Christmas Vacation at least once. How could you not laugh at Clark's antics?"
A Christmas Classic
showbiz911 | Northern CA, USA | 07/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every Christmas Eve I put the presents under the tree, straighten the stockings, and never forget to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Chevy Chase returns as Clark Griswald and gives his funniest performance yet. Beverly D'Angelo is also back as Ellen, and not to mention Randy Quaid has also returned to play good old Uncle Eddy. This movie will have you laughing the whole time. The DVD could have a better selection of extra's but trust me, the movie is satisfying enough. What makes this movie different from the rest of the Vacation movies is the fact that the Griswalds don't actually take a vacation. Instead they stay home and invite the in-laws to join them for the holidays. One of the greatest moments in the movie would have to be when Eddy kidnaps Clark's boss to fufill Clark's Christmas wish. Forget "The Santa Clause", "A Christmas Story", and "A Miracle on 34th Street". Christmas Vacation is the new Christmas DVD classic!"