Christmas Vacation Movie Review

Entry #3 in the National Lampoon's Vacation series is the last funny installment of the four movies (plus one made-for-TV movie which starred none of the original cast members).

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.


Christmas Vacation Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 1989


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