Poor Clark Griswold. All he wanted was the perfect good time, old fashioned family Christmas. The lights, the tree, the carols, sledding, the perfect Christmas dinner, and of course that big Christmas bonus.
What he got was frustration, a squirrel infested Christmas tree, Cousin Eddie, a cat food jello mold, a SWAT team invasion, and the Jelly of the Month club.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation takes all of the elements folks come to dread about the Christmas season and puts them on steroids. Chevy Chase’s well-intentioned family man Clark Griswold does his best to give his family a Christmas to remember. It certainly will be, but for all the wrong reasons. His wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and kids, Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and Audrey (Juliette Lewis) do their best to stay encouraging as the wheels start to come off the closer the big day gets and the house fills up with more cantankerous family members than it was made to handle. Coupled with the realization that big Christmas bonus may not be coming, and thus leaving him unable to pay for the big gift he had planned and paid for, by Christmas Eve, Clark is pushed to the brink of holiday insanity. The arrival of the chronically uncouth Cousin Eddie (chronically tax-evading Randy Quaid) didn’t help.
Another Chicago-based holiday movie with John Hughes’ fingerprints on it (he wrote this one), Christmas Vacation is the holiday nightmare that seems far fetched, and yet all too real. Fortunately for me, my good time, old fashioned family Christmas’ all turned out pretty well. But it isn’t hard to see how bringing so much family under one roof at one time during what should be a festive but is often stressful season, can go horribly awry.
As is usually the case in Hughes’ movies, despite the chaos endured, when it gets down to it, with your family by your side, things have a way of working out. Even if you do have to live in constant fear of being accosted by a Mississippi leg hound.