Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Special Countdown #8 - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (NLCV…cause I don’t want to spell it out) is a movie about a family trying to have the merriest Christmas ever—the Griswold family. It was written by John Hughes of…well let me just list: Home Alone; The Breakfast Club; Sixteen Candles; Pretty in Pink; Weird Science; Uncle Buck; Home Alone 2: Lost In New York; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; and, of course: National Lampoon’s Vacation (“Holiday Rooooooad!”).

To be honest, I had a hard time writing this as this movie is hilarious, but, I wasn’t sure exactly how to approach a movie with no plot, and that simply highlights happenings in this season, in a hilarious way. Ok, admittedly, the situations are a bit over the top, they are still rather relatable because sometimes, the events actually feel as large as this movie makes them out to be to us when we go through them.

Keeping that in mind, for this entry, I am going to focus on some of my favorite parts, and share some of my favorite experiences that my family has experienced which reminded me of this movie…which might be why we find it so hilarious.

First, let’s set the mood with the opening song:

The movie opens with this Mavis Staples song, and an animated sequence showing Santa dropping off presents to the Griswolds. For me, I remember this movie, and Troop Beverly Hills being disappointing to 6 year old Joie, as she LOVED cartoons (still does actually), and the two movies start with animated credits which eventually reveal, not an animated feature, but, a live action movie. However, I ended up watching both of these movies because they were funny! But what I also remember about the animation for both of these movies is that I liked the style—I’ve always loved animation.

Following the opening, the movie begins with the Griswold family—father Clark, mother Ellen, daughter Audrey, and, son Russ—on their way to get their family Christmas tree…the old-fashioned-cut-the-tree-down, way. While the family dialogue on the hike from the car to the fir is funny (Audrey’s eyes freeze) and, the tree can’t be cut down because Clark forgot to bring a saw/ax. No, the part that makes me laugh the most is the drive there!

On their drive to the tree, the Griswold’s are singing carols in the car…well, technically it’s Clark and Ellen singing, as Russ and Audrey are a little too old, and a little too cool to sing dorky songs with their parents. All of a sudden, a crazy pair of hillbilly’s in a truck decides to tail-gate. Clark clearly doesn’t like this, and in comes road rage. Clark decides to take his station wagon (with family still inside) and he and the truck play some tailgating games. It gets to point where not only does Clark flip off the pickup, but, when a log truck passes, he steers the wagon underneath and continues to drive under the fully loaded truck bed, between the wheels, in his attempt to pass the pickup. His kids and wife are clearly freaking out.
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Now, I have been in cars with many sets of parents due to sports, carpooling, and, church activities. And, sometimes, when there was a crazy driver on the road, I have seen many calm, cool, quiet dads and mums lose their cool! It can be both funny and frightening.

Clark is a caricature of how we feel and what a lot of dads (or mums, or anyone) do. You see, to me, what makes all four vacation movies consistently hilarious is Chevy Chase’s portrayal of Clark Griswold who is kind of an everyman. He just wants his family to have a nice vacation (whether it’s Christmas, a drive to Wally World, Europe, or Vegas). Clark also builds up these ideas of his hopes of how things will go, and just how perfect they will be.

Anyway, the next part I find hilarious is an interaction with the Griswold’s yuppy, snotty neighbors. I mean, yeah they want to live their life, and Clark doesn’t seem to hate them for that reason. In fact, based on the way they react, he hates them because they are judgmental twats, who like being condescending to Clark and his family. My favorite scene involving them is when they are blinded by the Griswold lights!
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The lights on their house practically shut down the power, and are BLINDINGLY bright!

In fact, this standard is what my mom wants her house to look like…every year. I think she has the roof down:
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(Part 1 of Decor-geddon from my mum)
Another favorite part is when the Griswolds decide to enjoy some sledding. Clark greases up the sled pan with a new product from his work. He sets off with the sled and lights a trail of fire…in SNOW! TBH, this might not be that funny, but growing up in San Diego where we have to drive at least an hour for snow/slush, well, I guess you could call it snow envy LOL!


For the last of my favorite parts we turn to Aunt Bethany. Aunt Bethany (played by Mae Questel of Olive Oyl, and Betty Boop fame).is so old she…well, she’s missing a few memory chips? Anyway Aunt Bethany is a very generous little old lady. She likes to make sure she brings a gift so naturally she wraps some gifts: a Jell-O mold, and, her pet cat.

But it is not her gifts that make me LOL for real.

No, I enjoy Aunt Bethany's screen time the most in this scene:

I really could go on with how I enjoy that Cousin Eddie bringing Clark’s boss to answer for getting rid of the company bonus (Damn the man! Save the Empire!!!). Or, the hilarious yet still horrible Freudian slips made by Clark in the department store. Or, the squirrel:

And there is always the turkey:
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This is one of those movies I really enjoy watching with both my parents. They both say little lines during certain parts of the movie every year. My mom always states how she wants the house to "look just like that" and my dad always cringes when the family eats the drier-than-the-Sahara turkey. Or when they both crack up at the sledding, remembering when they took us kids to a snow bank when we were young, and my dad made jokes about trying to sled down "as fast as Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation." The point of Christmas is family. This movie will always remind me of mine, and the quips, and jokes that we learned and shared while watching it.

This is one of my top LOL (literally) movies for the Christmas season!

2 comments:

  1. Cousin Eddie always kills me! And Snotz the dog! LMFAOOOOOOOOOO SQUIRREL!!! I also love the beginning when Chevy Chase says Kiss My Ass, Kiss His Ass, Happy Hanukkah! LOL
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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    1. OMG! I forgot the speech. D'oh!
      You're right too. I always rewind that part too!
      Might have to rewatch!

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