Sunday, December 11, 2011
Devon #8 = National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse."
And that is my Christmas. Others may have their Charlie Brown Christmas, their Muppet's Christmas Carol, or their Colbert Christmas, The Greatest Gift of All, but for me December is about paying a trip to the Griswolds.
Christmas Vacation was the third movie in a series that focused on stories of columnists hectic childhood holidays from National Lampoon magazine. They all focus on Clark Griswold and his family attempting to have a traditional family vacation, though with a very loose continuity between films. Now, I have a confession: I have never seen the other Vacations. Every year I plan on it, but it just never seems to happen. But frankly, I don't think I need too. Despite how well done they are (mostly) supposed to be, Christmas vacation is an almost perfect holiday movie, and any prequels or sequels might just dilute it.
Everything about the film extrudes nostalgia from the viewer. Even when Clark's hillbilly cousin is emptying a chemical toilet into the sewer, explaining simply "shitter was full", the colors and setting scream classic Christmas. In fact, the whole movie seems to straddle the line between being a raunchy comedy and being a heartwarming family film. The main reason this movie manages to create this glowing feel is because the relationships between every character feel real, whether between siblings, spouses, cousins or in-laws. Despite all the conflict that exists in their home, everyone cares for each other. That's why, when everything goes wrong and Clark starts to lose it, it reaches such hilarity, because we can all imagine just how he feels, and why when everything finally turns out, it's heartwarming. All of this is achieved through some startlingly good writing and acting. This is old Chevy Chase at his best, and it shows. Every moment he is on screen, every moment of happiness, anger, and shock, is leading to one moment, that one perfect moment, when Clark finally gets pushed off the edge. It's mesmerizing, and if you have ever seen this movie, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Their are only a few moments that I have problems with here. The scene wherein Clark goes tobogganing with an industrial lubricant plays out like a road runner cartoon. The use of celebrities (and future celebrities) can be distracting. Other than that... Well it's close to being a perfect movie. This is one that I'll watch every year for the rest of my life, and one that i expect to appreciate more every time. The musical cues, the colour, the emotion each actor conveys, the little jokes in the background, it all adds up to one of the best Christmas movies, and even one of the best comedies, ever. If every video rental place within a 1000 miles of me weren't closed, I would tell you to go rent it. And hey, speaking of perfect movies...
Post by Devon, reblogged to correct html.