Monday, December 22, 2014

Movie Review: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Some funny scenes and bits
Cons: Overall, the events overwhelm and just grow to be too much
The Bottom Line:
Many people love
I found amusing but not
Funny like they do

Too Much Chaos for Christmas

There are a couple of more modern Christmas classics I had never seen, and I decided this was the year to fix that.  After all, everyone always references them, so I should know what they are all about.  Up first was National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  It had its moments, but overall, I was okay not having seen this one.

The story follows the adventures of the Griswold family.  Instead of going somewhere for the holiday, they are hosting Christmas for their extended family, and Clark (Chevy Chase) wants to make sure it is the best Christmas ever.  He’s got big plans for his Christmas bonus as a surprise Christmas present he’s even keeping from his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo).  And he is going to include his family in all the traditions whether kids Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki) want it.  That includes getting the Christmas tree and putting a ton of lights on the house.  But as the family staying in the house grows, will anyone really have the Christmas spirit?

The movie just didn’t quite work for me, and I’m not completely sure why.  Several of the scenes are funny in their own right, but I think it was the combination as bad thing after bad thing kept happening that overwhelmed me.  Plus we were supposed to be laughing at poor Clark as he kept trying but making a fool out of himself.  As I said, not too horrible, but definitely not my first choice for humor.

Then there were the scenes that did bother me as Clark was drooling over a very attractive woman or got into a war of words with his neighbors.  Not at all funny but very crude and just wrong.

The cast is all definitely great in their parts.  Notable names in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier are Doris Roberts as one of the grandmothers, Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in one of her first roles as one of the neighbors.  As I said, a great cast that plays the humor for all they can.  I just don’t find much of it that funny.

There are lots of stunts and things exploding in this movie, and they pull it off perfectly.  Since the movie came out in 1989, they had to use actual effects, and it shows, but in a good way.

Speaking of the time, the styles date the movie more than anything else.  You’ll definitely get a laugh out of some of them.

I know I’ve been harsh on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but that’s because it is easy to point out the flaws.  I have a feeling if I’d watched it younger or with friends who loved it more the first time, I’d probably appreciate it more than I do.  But for me, it’s just an average film.  Now that I’ve watched it, I can skip it in the years to come.

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