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National Lampoons Christmas Vacation Retro Talk Grade: B

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk! Today on Retro Talk, we’re here to discus what is claimed to be a holiday classic National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Yes I started my first 24 years of life, never seeing this film until on a late Friday afternoon. I enjoy experiencing an older film I’ve never seen before on the big screen, makes it feel more special to me. The film tells a story of the Griswold family having Christmas. The head of the house Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is preparing for chaos at the house hold, as his wife’s family is coming to town and his family is coming to town, you know what they say about spending time with your family on the holidays?! Nothing but a Bah humbug I reckon. Experience a man doing all he can for his family and self during Christmas time, before going completely insane. When it comes to Christmas classics, there is a few films that come in my mind. Nightmare Before Christmas, Ron Howard’s The Grinch, The Polar Express, Home Alone, Adam Sandlers Eight Crazy Nights.... I don’t care if that doesn’t count, the theme is set in Christmas time. The thing about Christmas films is even if one I personally don’t like is considered a classic by someone else, I somehow manage to be completely ok with that. Maybe cause Christmas brings the best version out of me, as majority of these films are here to teach a valuable lesson. But one thing we can all agree is if anyone thinks Illumination’s The Grinch is a classic... We should run far far away from that person and never take them seriously about anything *Mic Drops and Runs to the Mountains*. Alright the reason why I bring up that discussion, comes with my biggest question: Do I consider Christmas Vacation a Christmas classic?! In my own opinion I don’t think this film is a classic at all, in fact I would probably never rewatch this anytime soon. Before you attempt to throw candy canes at me: Yes I liked this movie, I found it to be an enjoyable film. The thing that threw me off about this film, is indeed I was not expecting a slap stick comedy film. This reminds of any Adam Sandler film or Will Ferrell comedy film, I enjoy some of those time to time. Considering all the talk I’ve been hearing about this film being an acclaimed classic, I just didn’t expect it coming from slap stick comedy. The comedy material hits and misses. One big miss I didn’t find funny at all is the dinner scene, I didn’t really enjoy that scene at all. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to understand, how anyone can mess up a turkey that badly. The woman whom cooked the turkey claimed she put it in too early, well how early did she put it in?! Two hours early?! It doesn’t add up, not even the worst cooks in existence can screw up a turkey that badly unless they’ve completely forgotten about it. Then we have the family eating jello with cat food peddles in the jello... There is something about the comedic cliche “AHAHAHA THEY’RE EATING SOMETHING DISGUSTING” that never works for me. Of course Clark’s tantrum arguably the best comedic scene in the entire film, but one that is highly underrated has to come with Clark staring outside his window, imagining his Christmas bonus of having a swimming pool scene. I found that comedic scene pretty charming and as a fan of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it was a nice homage to that film too, very funny. The story is basically your basic holiday story, which isn’t a bad thing, at least my time was well spent watching how things unfold for this hard working man and his family driving him insane. What surprised me is certainly the Christmas kidnapping scene... Talk about going over board, man Clark’s brother is something else, but t’was a nice set up and pay off. The cast all in all were solid, the characters were fine. I didn’t enjoy Clark’s brother and their kids, whom looked like they never knew showering existed. Also you can say Clark’s aunt and uncle got on my nerves, I found them annoying in the film. As far as Clark and his own family in the household, enjoyed all the characters, I also found the in laws to be funny as well. Christmas Vacation may not be one my favorites nor did I love it like everyone else, but for what it’s worth I had a nice time watching this. Overall, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is a solid Christmas film. I recommend this film, if you’d like to experience it for the first time in the theater it’s still showing at your local AMC theaters. -Mitch Smietana

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