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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Movie Review:National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Premise:An eccentric man tries to make Christmas special for his whole family.

Cast:Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, Beverly D'Angelo as Ellen Griswold, Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie, Johnny Galecki as Rusty Griswold, Juliette Lewis as Audrey Griswold, John Randolph as Grandpa Clark, Diane Ladd as Grandma Nora, E.G. Marshall as Grandpa Art, Doris Roberts as Grandma Frances, Nicholas Guest as Todd Chester, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Margo Chester, Miriam Flynn as Catherine, Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Ruby Sue, Cody Burger as Rocky, William Hickey as Uncle Lewis, Mae Questal as Aunt Bethany, Brian Doyle-Murray as Frank Shirley

Director:Jeremiah S. Chechik

MPAA Rating:PG-13

Genres:Holiday, comedy

Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:Silly protagonists hi-jinks. It's funny.

Cons:One subplot.

Spending Christmas with your family can be fun, but it also tends to be stressful. It can get even more stressful when they stay in your house a couple weeks. Maybe just a tiny...My goodness, how do you stand it? I don't care how much you love your family. Cramming them all in the same house for weeks before a major "family" holiday? No thanks.

This is the first and so far only National Lampoon Vacation movie I've seen. Might have had something to do with the fact that when I watched this for the first time, I was too young to see R-rated movies. With that being said, the things Clark and his family get up to are funny and goofy enough to make a fun Christmas movie. It's not exactly highbrow, but it's entertaining.

The subplot with the pool and the Christmas bonus got under my skin a little. In summary, all parties involved do the most boneheaded or inconsiderate thing possible and one is vilified while the other isn't called on his unthinking actions.

Overall, if you'd like a holiday comedy to watch when your kids aren't around, think about this one.

Sex:When a neighbor mockingly ask Clark where he's going to put a tree that big, Clark retorts "Bend over and I'll show you." Then he specifies he's talking to the neighbor's wife. Audrey calls sharing a bed with her brother "sick and twisted." She also says she has nightmares about what Russell does in his bed alone when she's not next to him. Grandpa stares at a pin-up. The room also contains a poster of mating turtles.
Clark goes shopping for lingerie and gets a bug-eyed lust-crush on the female clerk whose top is low-cut and who shows him her underwear to demonstrate it as a product (Russell then walks up). While this is going on, Clark makes a bunch of suggestive slips. He later imagines her in a one-piece swimsuit (which she then takes off to go skinny dipping). He also sees Cousin Eddy in a Speedo and other family members in swimsuits.
A man suggests taking off clothes and kissing every square inch of his wife's body. A few women show cleavage. Clark lies his wife doesn't wear underwear and wipes his forehead with a pair of panties. Eddie and Catherine suggestively talk about getting their RV all to themselves. There's talk of a dog humping people's legs. Ellen rests her hand on her husband's crotch.

Violence:Plenty of slapstick. Decorations and windows are broken. People faint. The animated opening has Santa comically falling in a snowdrift, getting electrocuted, whacked in the head, and otherwise being comically injured. A cat chews on a wire and gets fried. A squirrel gets in the house, causing lots of panic. A dog chases it, breaks furniture, and tackles a woman. Cops bust into a household.
Clark gets into a road rage thing with the drivers of an old truck, despite of Ellen's protests ("I don't want to spend the holidays dead"). The car flies through the air and crashes into a sign. Clark goes flying off on a makeshift sled, sending sparks everywhere, running into traffic, and sliding across a parking lot. He also smacks himself in the face with a ladder and boards, busts through the attic floor, and throws a tantrum that results in broken plastic reindeer and Santa getting punched. Someone opens the attic door while Clark is sitting on it (*crash*). Eddy kicks a guy he has tied up.
A neighbor wishes Clark would fall and break his neck. Clark staples his sleeve to the roof and does indeed fall. A chunk of ice shoots out, breaking the neighbors' window and stereo. Bright lights cause these neighbors to trip and break things.
A relative tosses his lit match without concern, once lighting a tree (and himself) on fire, and later causing an explosion. Eddie talks about a metal plate in his head that was replaced with plastic. Clark proposes trapping a rodent in a coat and smacking it with a hammer. A woman plans to punch a guy, but her actual target ends up being someone else.

Language:Two uses of "f**k". Also usage of "sh*t" (twice from a kid), "g*dd**n", "G*d", "a**" (and "a**hole"), "h*ll", "d**n", "p*ss", "crap", "J*sus", and "frigging". Clark flips the bird to another driver and later curses a man in front of his family.

Drugs & Alcohol:Ellen lights a cigarette, then her mom (who's not in the room) asks if she's smoking again. One grandpa complains he needs to eat so he can take his back pill. The other says Jack Daniel's helped him out during bad holidays. People smoke and drink throughout.

Gross Stuff:Eddy's dog is named Snots. He snorts all over his head, chokes on a bone, and roots through the trash. A guy picks his nose. A senile relative asks if she broke wind. A guy pumps sludge into the sewers. At a dinner a rather poorly cooked turkey serves as the main course where Eddy takes a bite out of a dish before putting more on his plate.
Audrey complains about one of grandfathers telling her boyfriend she couldn't come to the phone because she was in the bathroom. The grandparents discuss their medical procedures and illnesses. People burp.

Spiritual:When Clark drives recklessly, Ellen says part of the Lord's Prayer and asks Him to "forgive my husband; he knows not what he does." Clark wishes a guy a happy Hanukkah with a touch of sarcasm. Religious Christmas carols are sung. A senile relative is asked to say grace; she instead says the Pledge of Allegiance. A heavenly light surrounds Clark's ideal tree. A nativity appears as a decoration. Eddie wishes he and Catherine hadn't sent their money to a TV preacher (who was having sex with a hockey player).

So what did you think?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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