It’s Christmas eve- and some of you may be stuck with your families and hating life. Well- if you are- then all you need to do is repeat after me “It could be worse. We could be Griswolds”
I think everyone of a certain age has a very particular opinion about what is the best Vacation movie. Me? European Vacation. All. The. Way. “Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!” Who doesn’t love that? I mean, let’s be real here, the whole point of any 80s movie is the quotable lines. This is why my favorite commercial of ALL time is the Old Navy “European Rusty” Christmas commercial. Love it. He’s in the beret. He’s in the beret!!! Yes, maybe you have to be 40 to get it, but I’m 40 so shut up. My second favorite is probably Christmas Vacation, and hurray! It fits with our theme here, so here is my three paragraph argument as to why you should watch Christmas Vacation.
The thing you wait for in all Vacation movies is when Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold loses his shit. All of Clark’s carefully laid plans fail in spectacular fashion during the course of the movie, but usually there is that one moment where he can’t hold it together anymore and he loses it in a big explosion of profanity. The premise of Christmas Vacation is that the Griswold’s aren’t going on vacation at all, they are creating the good old fashioned family Christmas at home and inviting all the various relatives that come with it. The family bickers, Cousin Eddie shows up unannounced (played with gleeful revoltingness by Randy Quaid). Clark has many whacky scenes setting up an extreme light display on the exterior of his house, much to the derision of their yuppie neighbors. Ah, yuppies, remember them? One of them is played by Julia Louis Dreyfus! They go into the woods and dig up a tree (Clark forgets the saw).
This is all leading up to the big dinner when everything really falls apart. The ancient cousins and aunts and uncles show up. One of them is a little senile and wraps her cat and her Jell-O mold as presents. Now, things start going off the rails. Turns out there is a squirrel in the tree they dug up, the discovery of said squirrel causes much chaos and destruction. Aunt Bethany’s cat decided to chew on the Christmas tree lights and electrocutes itself. And Clark keeps chugging along, until he discovers that the Christmas bonus he had been expecting to use to install a pool, turns out to be the jelly of the month club. Outburst ensues which inspires Cousin Eddie to go kidnap Clark’s boss, and well, I’ll skip to the end, everything turns out OK! (After an explosion in the storm drains due to Cousin Eddie dumping his chemical toilet in the gutter. But it’s ok, because it launches the plastic Santa and his sleigh from the Griswold roof through the sky, almost as if it were the real Santa) Hurray! Clark is a family hero.
OK, so yeah, it’s a pretty stupid movie. But an awesome stupid movie. This isn’t my favorite version of Chevy Chase, I always preferred his wise-cracking trouble making ala Fletch, but it’s hard not to laugh at him as Clark. He gets that wide eyed look and you know you’re in trouble. I’m sure everybody has that guy in their family, the crazy idea guy, the family bonding guy, the let’s all buy matching berets and take our picture on the Eiffel Tower guy. But we love them anyway, right? Sure we do! It’s the standing around while shaking our heads as everything falls apart that brings us closer together.
By the way…last minute gift? These are available on Amazon!!