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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the third and arguably the most memorable of the Vacation movies starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. This installment, which also stars Randy Quaid as fan-favorite Cousin Eddie, has become a modern holiday classic. Even I have to admit, I get sucked into this movie when it comes on TV each December (we are going to look past the fact that I first saw it in 2010).
I have to say, though, it is pretty stupid. And that first have is a bit of a chore to get through. I do not feel the movie really gets all that good or interesting until Cousin Eddie arrives on the scene. Honestly. Try watching that first half and only the first half. It is awkward, disjointed, and largely a series of vignettes. Clark (Chase) experiences several pratfalls and other slapstick antics, but tries to be the “straight guy” as well. It does not work. Once Eddie arrives, he takes over the more outrageous elements.
But, here is the thing that makes that beginning part work: it has tons and tons of charm. Many of the things that John Hughes wrote into the script are funny not because it crazy or goofy, but because everything rings true. I suspect everyone has experienced or been witness to something that occurs in this movie. Be it the older family members falling asleep in front of the TV, trying to get the tree up without problems, or encountering frustrations with hanging lights. It is wonderfully relatable.
Also selling the whole thing is Clark’s never-ending wide-eye wonder and determination to have the greatest Christmas ever.
Once Eddie arrives, the film just goes to crazy town. Between the “shitter” being full, the Pledge of Allegiance being recited, and the fried cat, Christmas Vacation never really lets up on the zany. Personally, I think this is the main reason people keep coming back to it.
But, I am probably preaching to the choir here. Go check it out if you have not. You will leave Christmas Vacation with a smile across your face and have that theme song stuck in your head for days.
Avoid the TV movie “sequel”, Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure.