Review of National Lampoon’s Christmas VacationMay 15, 2021
Review of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Movie Review)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is actually a short comedy film, the fourth installment of the Holiday series. As the name implies, the movie follows the life of John Candy as he goes on holiday in an English-speaking country, which is sort of like what our own England would be like if we all went on a break there for a couple of weeks. John’s neighbor and friend, Tick tacks across the Atlantic to spend the Christmas break with John, but instead winds up spending it at the Gingerbread House, which has some disturbing Christmas decorations. As a result, John gets very bored, and decides to go on a wild goose chase for the rest of the break – an experience he regrets greatly. Eventually, he realizes that he has to return to America, so he leaves Tick and his other friends behind, and takes his wife’s plane.
Along the way, John spots a giant egg bearing a name, which leads him to believe that it might be another sign of Christmas. The Gingerbread House also offers a Christmas stocking which John puts on his head, but it turns out to be filled with money. In order to get out of town, John takes the services of an angelo whose services are required by the authorities, but he doesn’t really trust them. The angelo is a big fan of Santa Claus, so he lets John stay at his home instead of boarding the express train. At the end of the film, when the children get back, they find that the giant egg has been stolen! Santa Claus then finds John’s house, along with his snowman helper, and they embark on a long journey all over the world, in order to complete the “perfect” gift-giver’s task.
The film presents a typical Christmas scenario, complete with holiday traditions and cultural elements. But whereas the audience may view the characters in a somewhat amusing light, Lewis’ point of view makes them far more entertaining (and even therapeutic). Throughout, Lewis portrays Cheech and Chong as cartoonish misfits who end up stealing from and abusing the poor.
The Christmas Vacation is the first short story written about Cheech and Chong. In contrast to other short stories about Christmas Vacations, The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation features realistic characters, making it a more enjoyable read. Although the storyline includes holiday lore, the humor is light-hearted and is not intended to be offensive to any viewers.
John Carpino co-stars as Lee DeWitt, a divorced car salesman who returns home for the Fourth of July weekend. With his ex-wife Lee having moved away, DeWitt is stuck with his friend, Carl Plank, whom he barely knows. Plank thinks very highly of Lee, calling him his best friend ever since grade school. Meanwhile, DeWitt’s friend Sandy, played by John Candy, arrives at the last minute to help him with his plans for the Christmas vacation. Together, they plan a gala to help celebrate Lee’s coming home with his wife.
A veteran of the comedy genre, John Candy plays the role of Lexy, a divorced mother of 12 who moves back home alone after her divorce. An avid fan of baseball, she longs to spend her recent years with her son in New York City, but she must continue working to support herself. Determined not to let her “give up” on her dream of spending Christmas in her own house, Lexy dresses in bed-inspired clothing and plots to get into a new apartment. Plank also returns home alone following his failed attempt to score tickets to a Broadway play, but soon finds himself drawn into a new life in the arms of another woman.
Starring as the comic relief character, Griswold family man Rusty finds himself the host of a country Christmas party, hosted by his best friend, played by John Candy. The Griswold family, made up of a father (bert) and two sons ( Steve ( Eric Stahl ) and Bobby (gary) get along well, until Rusty accidentally drops his beer on a bride’s foot. After being told that he’s been invited to the Christmas party, Rusty decides to ruin the holiday by hosting his own party, using the excuse of “let’s party on Christmas.” Unfortunately, Rusty’s plans go disastrously wrong, forcing him and his family to celebrate their first Christmas in their own home.
The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation follows the plot of the short story, in addition to providing some hilarious one-liners and memorable moments. The Griswold family makes for an interesting set of dysfunctional individuals, who manage to be just a bit odd for a comedy film. Watching Griswold Family Man will make audiences laugh, but also provide a reminder that despite how much our culture laughs at Christmas, there is still a lot of fun to be had during this time of year. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation provides an early glimpse of what might have happened if Rusty Griswold had decided to throw a real Christmas party instead of holding his own Christmas party, and perhaps it’s just as funny.