O 1989 how I miss your simple ways. I was a fresh-faced lad just out of high school, waiting for a call from a division one basketball program, and the world was my oyster. Gas was 89 cents a gallon, employers actually gave out Christmas bonuses, Fox news had yet to make a mockery of objective journalism and no one knew Chevy Chase was a jack ass. It was also the year that one of the greatest Christmas films of all time hit the big screen Christmas Vacation.
6 years prior the world had been introduced to the Griswold family in the original Vacation film. Now the family was back just in time for the holidays. Well sort of back Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo and Randy Quaid all reprised their roles. However, in what would become a staple of the series the Griswold children were replaced in the film. Christmas Vacation would star Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki as Audrey and Rusty.
The film written by John Hughes, melded slapstick comedy, raunchy one liners and holiday cheer into a delicious fruitcake of a film. The audience can easily relate to many of outrageous events that occur when families get together for the holidays. Christmas Vacation has it all, annoying neighbors, grandparent’s complaining about ailments, wacky cousins showing up uninvited, pets trying to ruin dinner, families struggling to decorate for the holidays and remain sane.
It might not be a Norman Rockwell Christmas, but is in fact probably much closer to most people’s holiday reality. That is not to suggest that the film is without heart. Clark W. Griswold Jr. wants nothing more than to provide his family with the greatest family Christmas of all time. There is even a heart warming scene where Clark watches some old family Christmas films. Of course it’s when he gets locked in the attic, dresses in women’s clothes from the 1930’s in an attempt to stay warm, and shortly before he falls through the ceiling.
I would be remiss if I did not discuss my favorite character in the film Cousin Eddie. Randy Quaid is excellent in a role that would turn out eerily close to his current reality. Cousin Eddie is plate in the head, leisure suit wearing, foul-mouthed, good-hearted ignoramus of the highest order. His choice of attire alone might be worth watching the film. However, when it’s coupled with his mannerisms and cringe worthy dialogue its a work of comedic genius.
So the next time someone in your family suggests that you spend some quality family time huddled around the TV to watch a holiday film. Why not suggest a viewing of this modern holiday classic. While It’s a Wonderful Life it is not, you will have a much more joyous time watching Christmas Vacation than you will watching any of those horrific Lifetime Channel Christmas films they crank out every year.
I posted the trailer for this film last week so I figured I would just add a clip from the film with this review.