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National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation can test your patience

Updated on January 7, 2012

I've not grown up watching Christmas Vacation every year. I've seen it, and it's fun, but I don't have the same urge to see it that some do.

That being said, it's quite odd.

The story is largely a whole bunch of little adventures here and there that each underscore what many would call the worst Christmas ever if it had actually happened to you. However, there's also a tendency for adventure X to build on something that had been done a good while earlier in the movie. It's not a simple set-up, punchline, set-up, punchline formula. And I think that works for it.

The main story of this third entry into the National Lampoon Vacation series is that Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is preparing to celebrate Christmas with his family. Extended family keeps showing up and stuffing his house to the rafters, and the Christmas bonus he's expecting hasn't come yet, and things simply keep going wrong for him at every turn.

The story was written by John Hughes, who was also behind three of the four "Home Alone" movies as well as Mr. Mom, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. You can see elements of Hughes' style here all over. But the main word you could use to describe it all would probably be: mayhem.

It's random and ridiculous and Clark can't seem to get a break.

But it still has heart. That and a sappy ending that itself ends in an explosion that sends Santa rocketing through the sky. What more can you ask for from a National Lampoon movie?

And what more Christmas-ish message is there than "A little light kidnapping on Christmas Eve is all good as long as you do it for the right reasons"?

I give this one a 7 / 10.

Christmas Vacation is rated PG for some crude humor, a bit of nudity, and language (including one "F" that isn't at the start of a very merry "fa-la-la").


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