Film (with rating): National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Studio: Warner Home Video
Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase ) wants for Christmas is an old-fashioned family
holiday, complete with all the Rockwellian trimmings. Instead, in true Griswold
fashion, what he gets is gift-wrapped chaos and enough hilarity to fill a dozen
stockings as everyone invades the Griswold home for the holidays.
Review: Every year on Thanksgiving night, my family has a
tradition. Overstuffed to the point of discomfort, we collapse on the couch and
muster up just enough energy to flip on the DVD player. And what waits for us
there is the start of the holiday season.
Yes, I know KOST 103.5 FM and other
radio stations began playing Christmas carols two weeks ago. And I understand
that Disneyland decked itself out into a winter wonderland on Nov. 13. But for
me, Christmas doesn’t start until the first showing of “Christmas
In the past 20 years, this film has taken on cult status.
Written by none other than the genius known as John Hughes, “Christmas
Vacation” is one of the best holiday films around. It’s actually better on
the 37th viewing than it is on the first, thanks to the scores of
slight jokes, visual gags and puns that pepper the film. No, this is not in the
same league as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but who ever thought it would
be? It’s still a classic in its own right.
This movie is actually a lot like
reality. You’ve got the dad who just wants things to be nice for his family,
and instead screws everything up. Then there are the kids, sullen and sick of
their family’s craziness. Let’s not forget the in-laws, each one crazier than
the last. It’s sort of like a dysfunctional Rockwellian portrait.
Chase, as he
was for the prior two “Vacation” films, is perfect as the lead
character. His comedic timing and physical comedy never fail. Beverly D’Angelo
is flawless as wife Ellen, but it’s Randy Quaid as redneck cousin Eddie who
really adds unforgettable punch to the movie. He delivers some of the best
lines throughout the entire thing. I mean, the whole part with the chemical
Every year, my family and I watch this film, laugh ourselves
silly and realize that for all the chaos and commercialism the holiday season
brings, we still have each other. And we’re not nearly as screwed up as the Griswolds.
For that, we’re grateful. So ring
in the holiday season with this classic, my friends. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.
Extra highlight: Create your own. Reenact the “Where’s
the Tylenol” scene. Or create
a list of great quotes and take turns reading them. Here’s one to get you going:
Clark: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
Eddie: Naw, I’m doing just fine, Clark.
What to serve for dinner: Nothing. You just ate your weight in
turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. But if you’re viewing this on another day
this weekend, serve up Thanksgiving Dinner Redux, or take those leftovers and
spin them into a new dish, such as turkey hash (www.delish.com).
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 cups leftover stuffing
2 cups leftover cooked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cups leftover cooked vegetables, coarsely chopped
1/4 cups (loosely packed) fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cups leftover cranberry sauce
In 12-inch nonstick skillet, melt margarine on medium. Add
onion and cook eight to 10 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Stir
in mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and vegetables. Cook 20 minutes, turning
occasionally and pressing with spatula, until browned. Sprinkle with parsley.
Serve with cranberry sauce.
What to talk about over dinner: How is your family like the
Griswolds during the holidays? What are your favorite lines from the movie?
Your favorite scenes? Favorite characters? Come on–how many of you loved kooky
Aunt Bethany? What is your favorite “Vacation” film? What are some of
your holiday traditions? If you could have an old-fashioned Christmas, what would
it be like? As a kid, did you have to give up your bedroom when family invaded
your home during the holidays? Who was your favorite relative growing up? Who
was the craziest? What is Chevy Chase’s best movie ever? Worst? See who can
figure this out: What was Mae Questel (Aunt Bethany) first famous for? What’s
your favorite holiday dish? What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?
The best Christmas ever?