When I think of Christmas, I always imagine it cold and white. I mean we don’t get it out here but that is what the holiday is all about…at least in movies. Growing up in the Midwest, I can tell you it’s not that cold or that snowy in December. The months following, on the other hand, are the worst. But with all that said, “Christmas Vacation” illustrates what makes these holiday movies so special.
It’s funny that even though “Vacation” came out first, it is this one that is more memorable. Probably because it’s the worst vacation you could ever think. Clark has been looking forward to hosting the family for Christmas while also getting his fancy bonus check. And as you can imagine, neither go as planned.
Instead the family is full of rude and insensitive people including Clark’s mother-in-law and, of course, cousin Eddie. What I liked though was how Eddie showed a little more depth so his idiocy became much funnier. I mean all it takes is one off-the-cuff response and you’re laughing pretty hard at this white trash cousin. Also the really old people are funny since they are so out of touch with what is going on.
Now for any Christmas movie to work, you need a lot of extremes to happen. Much like “Home Alone,” throw reality out the window and you will love these movies. Whether it’s cutting down an enormous Christmas tree, setting up the lights on the house, eating a terribly cooked turkey or kidnapping Clark’s boss, the film is not pulling any punches.
As you would expect, Chevy Chase is still the best as Clark Griswold who, once again, wants everything to be perfect before it blows up in his face. He wants all the family there but then too many come. He wants to build a pool with his Christmas bonus which, originally, gives him essentially nothing. It basically comes off as Clark being the outsider with even his wife and kids unsure how to help him.
The best part, though quick, had to be his little repartee with an attractive saleswoman. After Christie Brinkley in the original, Clark always seems to draw the eye of some beautiful woman. This time, however, he is caught a little off-guard and his Freudian slips are just too perfect. This scene is so clever and well written that it is definitely worth a watch on its own. I also want to give some props to the Griswold’s neighbors whose misfortune was a nice comedic aside.
“Christmas Vacation” had a lot of hype going into it and the movie did not disappoint. Not only does it surpass the original but may quite be the greatest Christmas film ever. Sure it goes a little far at points but that’s the whole point of the genre. Everything is so absurd but they leave you consistently laughing along with a somewhat heartwarming message. And it’s always nice to think that no matter how crazy your family can be around Christmas (speaking from experience), there is always one that’s worse.