Monday, December 19, 2011

Cinematic Advent Calendar - Day 19

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - Dir. Jeremiah S. Chechik

A good old-fashioned family Christmas with all the trimmings, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) continues to chronicle the familial misadventures of the Griswold family under the patriarchy of Clark W. Griswold Jr. (Chevy Chase). Written by John Hughes, who also wrote the holiday classic Home Alone (1990), the screenplay is based off of a short story he had written for National Lampoon magazine in 1980 entitled Christmas '59. As far as Christmas comedies go, this one succeeds where so many fail, by taking a realistic approach to the modern family Christmas. Clark Griswold is the physical embodiment of an eccentric father. The film begins with him leading his family into the wilderness to select the perfect Christmas tree and having to pull it out by the roots after his son, Rusty, reminds him that he forgot to bring a saw. From there Clark spends days covering his house with 25,000 Christmas lights, just in time for his parents, in-laws, and unwanted cousins to show up. Nothing is sugar coated between all of these clashing personalities, which again makes the film quite realistic and relatable. When it comes to the actual humor of the film there is a good balance between Chase's deadpan delivery and physical comedy/stunts. As entertaining and sympathetic as Chase is in his struggle to maintain order in chaos, Randy Quaid, once again playing the deplorable cousin Eddie, manages to steal the show and drive the story to a warm-hearted conclusion. 

"Merry Christmas!
Shitter was full!"

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