This time out the Griswolds aren't on a road trip -- they're spending a big family Christmas at home, filled with senile grandparents, and of course Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his white-trash brood. The usual holiday mishaps occur, from lights that won't go on to a Christmas tree that's too tall, but it's the cruel blackness of life that we see in allVacation movies that makes the film memorable. In a week's time, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) will see his family fall apart, be attacted by a crazed squirrel, and find his boss kidnapped by Eddie after he receives a jelly of the month club subscription in lieu of an actual bonus.
In most ways, Christmas Vacation follows the original Vacation pretty closely, just without the change of scenery. There's even a buxom femme fatale (a la Christie Brinkley), who inspires Chase's famous "nipply" soliloquy during a visit to the mall.
While Christmas Vacation is undeniably derivative, it's not without its charms. Beverly D'Angelo and Chase work their magic for a third time as the blissfully ignorant-slash-oblivious couple, while Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki do solid work as the kids (recasting those parts yet again). Even Randy Quaid proves he can give his one-note yokel character a little bit of life.
The end result is that, while it still has an endless number of bleak and depressing moments, Christmas Vacation is probably the most family-friendly film of the series, perfectly befitting its Christmastime setting. As we know by now, a Griswold always triumphs over adversity. This installment of the film is one of Clark's more satisfying wins.
The new Christmas Vacation DVD adds a commentary from many of the cast and crew, including first-time director Jeremiah Chechik.
Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st December 1989
Box Office Worldwide: $71.3M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 23 Rotten: 13
IMDB: 7.5 / 10
Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Screenwriter: John Hughes
Starring: Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, Beverly D'Angelo as Ellen Griswold, Juliette Lewis as Audry Griswold, Johnny Galecki as Russel Rusty Griswold, John Randolph as Clark Wilhelm Griswold Sr., Diane Ladd as Nora Griswold, E.G. Marshall as Art Smith, Doris Roberts as Frances Smith, Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie, Miriam Flynn as Cousin Catherine, Cody Burger as Cousin Rocky, Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Cousin Ruby Sue, William Hickey as Uncle Lewis, Mae Questel as Aunt Bethany, Sam McMurray as Bill, Nicholas Guest as Todd Chester, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Margo Chester, Nicolette Scorsese as Mary, Keith MacKechnie as Delivery Boy, Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Frank Shirley, Natalija Nogulich as Mrs. Helen Shirley