national lampoon’s christmas vacation – squirrel!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was released on December 1, 1989, it’s directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, written and produced by none other than John Hughes. The film stars; Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Doris Roberts and William Hickey.
It’s a Christmas comedy film revolving around the Griwold’s.

I’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging, but couldn’t pass up a Christmas set. Before I get carried away with the details, go check out what my friends Dr. Q at Craft Beer Tasters and Cody from Three B Zine have to say about this film.

The plot summary will be unusually short this time around, why? Well, cause it’s a very simple story. Clark wants to have a “good ole-fashioned Christmas,” but everything gets in the way.
That Christmas bonus he was expecting didn’t come in, and he’s in a bit of a pickle with the pool he wants to build. His parents and in-laws show up, they’re less than pleasant. Then wife’s (Ellen) cousin’s family shows up in an RV and impose themselves upon the Griswold household.

While Clark is balancing all this amongst the chaos, his snooty yuppie neighbors, a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus, scoffs at all the stuff that’s going on and affecting their holidays.

Everything comes to a head as Randy Quaid brings Clark’s boss gagged and bound to the house, he doesn’t realize Clark’s tirade to be just that, and not a literal request. A SWAT Team storms the house and everything gets resolved, Clark gets his Christmas bonus, the family unit is intact and everyone lived happily ever after.

The good; the gags really build up to Clark’s frustrations. The plot revolves around how much a man can take before  reaching his breaking point.

I love these Vacation movies, because the kids are always re-casted, but you don’t care. The movies aren’t about Rusty and Audrey, they’re about Clark and Ellen. This time out we get a young Johnny Galecki from The Big Bang Theory fame.

I like the practical effects here, they’re done well in servicing the absurd nature of the gag, yet being tangible and amazing.
That’s a stunt man shooting down the snow covered hills, and that’s a Santa Sleigh lawn decoration shooting up in the sky. I love that stuff.

Angelo Badalamenti does the score, you may remember him from such scores as Twin Peaks. Great to have him here.

William Hickey as Uncle Lewis is amazing, I mean, I’ll love anything Hickey does. He’s one of those actors that was always 80 years old, even though he died at the age of 69.

The bad; the scene where the family goes snow sledding. I have always found the processed shot of Chevy shooting down the snow super fake and jarring. It throws me out of the movie every time. The practical stuff with the stunt man and the fire trail are fine, but then it cuts to close ups of Chevy hamming it up and takes away from the brilliant stunt work;

Randy Quaid chews up the scenery whenever he’s on.

Overall, very fun revisiting this “modern day classic.” I remember catching this on some pay channel, not even sure if it was during the holiday season.
It’s great seeing the neighborhood again where the Murtaugh‘s live, from the Lethal Weapon movies. This time the Griwold’s are there… could they be neighbors???

I’d pair a viewing of Christmas Vacation with that of Fresh & Easy‘s Sparkling Apple Cider.

Relatively new to the scene with their in-house brand, but good none the less.
Not much is known about this new Cider from Fresh & Easy, the true origin was lost eons ago, due to records at that time being spotty… at best.
But this Sparkling Cider is cheap readily available, much like the gags in Christmas Vacation.

So sit back, relax, pop open a bottle and watch Chevy Chase ham it up with Randy Quaid and marvel at Beverly D’Angleo’s classic good looks, she was truly my generation’s hot mom. Think back to a holiday get together that had too much going on with too many family members, then be thankful that you’re not a Griswold.

Fade out-
Eugene

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