15 August 2000 | jhclues
The Perfect Holiday Comedy
The Griswold family is set to celebrate the holidays like never before, in `National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,' directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and written by John Hughes. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) has decided to have a traditional, old-fashioned family Christmas, and has invited his parents and in-laws to stay with them through the season. He has a surprise he wants to share with everyone this year; with his Christmas bonus from work, he's putting in a pool, to which he's already committed the down-payment money (so the bonus had better come through, big time, or he's `in it up to here'). To kick off the season, he takes Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and the kids, Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki) to the mountains to find the perfect `Griswold family Christmas tree. And it's only the first of one hilarious scene after another, as we follow Clark and clan through one long laugh-fest, filled with surprises and fun. Chase is at his best here, in the most enduring (and endearing) character he's ever done; Clark the Everyman, who only wants the best things for his family and himself, but whose plans more often than not go awry, doomed to fall just short of realization. When he decorates the outside of the house, he uses 25,000 twinkle lights; they use enough juice to black-out an entire neighborhood, and they do (once he can get them to work). Then when cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) show up unexpectedly in the `RV' they now call home, Eddie asks Clark if he's surprised to see him. Surprised? Eddie is the last person on earth Clark expected, or wanted, to see. `Eddie,' he tells him, `I couldn't be more surprised if I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet.' Another memorable scene involves a wild squirrel who came in with the Christmas tree and proceeds to make his appearance during dinner, only to provoke a wild romp upstairs and down as they all pursue (and in some cases try to elude) the deadly invader. A terrific cast was assembled for this movie, but Quaid is the stand-out, and he perfects the Eddie character in this one; forever the lamebrain with the big heart, and the one who takes the situation in hand when Clark's bonus turns out to be an enrollment in a jelly-of-the-month club. Clark's parents are played by Diane Ladd (Nora) and John Randolph (Clark, Sr.), and Ellen's by Doris Roberts (Frances) and E.G. Marshall (Art). Other notable performances are turned in by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Margo) and Nicholas Guest (Todd), as Clark's yuppie next door neighbors, and also by William Hickey (Uncle Lewis) and Mae Questel (Aunt Bethany). Rounding out the supporting cast are Nicolette Scorsese (Mary), Cody Burger (Rocky), Ellen Hamilton Latzen (Ruby Sue) and Brian Doyle-Murray (Frank Shirley). `National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' is timeless comedy, a must for every video collection. It can be watched over and over again, and the humor stays fresh while the laughs get even bigger. There's a little bit of every family in here, and this movie may be just the tonic you'll need some day to get you through your own `special' holiday season. I rate this one 10/10.