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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The 7 Days of Box Office Christmas continues with a movie that was suggested to me by a reader of this blog, and as it turns out, there's quite a lot that I can do with this film.

In fact, it was probably this idea that inspired me to go ahead with the idea to come up with the '7 Days of Box Office Christmas' theme week.

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, you may remember the entry I did last week on the 1983 movie 'A Christmas Story'. In that blog entry, I talked about how some people want to do everything to come up with the perfect Christmas, but sometimes don't realize that they have had all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas all along.

It's absolutely true, you know. I don't really understand the obsessive-compulsive need that some people seem to bring out of their usually dormant personalities during the holidays. From getting the biggest turkey possible, to getting the best decorations possible for the huge tree, and basically doing everything to make sure that their home is decorated like a Christmas card picture.

But, when you look at it from a sane viewpoint, who exactly are you doing all this for?

If it's for your immediate family and you want to give them a memorable Christmas to remember for their own personal memory banks, that's fine and dandy. But if it's to show off to relatives and acquaintances that you really have no relationship with whatsoever, just for the sole purpose of proving a point to them, then that's kind of tacky.

So, sometimes when you watch the whole thing unravel at the seams, where every meticulous detail that went into planning the most perfect Christmas celebration all falls apart...if you were one of the ones who were only invited to the celebration just so the hosts can rub it in your face as to how much nicer their Christmas looked than yours, you'd probably see it as a sort of karmic retribution.

I shouldn't really admit this, but there's been some instances in which I've gone to holiday parties, and felt as if the hosts were trying way too hard to impress people. Sometimes, it's almost as if you WANT to find something that is imperfect, just so you can drive the party hosts right out of their gourds by pointing attention to it all night long.

Hmmm...maybe that's why I don't get invited to many Christmas parties. 
At any rate, this whole idea of trying way too hard to show everyone in the world what a perfect Christmas is ties in nicely with the movie I'm featuring in this spot for today.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

The film was released on time for the 1989 holiday season, and had quite a few heavyweights in the cast. Of course, you have Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, reprising their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, with this film being the third in the National Lampoon's Vacation series. But there's so many more actors that have made appearances in the movie that were either big stars or became big stars. Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki played the children of the Griswold family this time around (the kids were always recast in each installment). Doris Roberts, Diane Ladd, Randy Quaid, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus also had roles in the comedy.

The movie was based off of a short story written by the late John Hughes for National Lampoon magazine (a humour publication that was actually a spin-off of the Harvard Lampoon). The story was entitled “Christmas '59”.

The film did quite well at the box office, making over seventy million dollars worldwide, and is widely considered to be a Christmas classic.

And this movie depicts the Griswold family during the Christmas holidays, as Clark has gotten bitten by the Christmas bug this particular year. Clark has dreamed of having a good old-fashioned Christmas, and despite his family being a little less open to the idea as he is, Clark is determined to make this Christmas the best one ever.

But of course, everything seems to go wrong from the get-go...such as finding the Griswold Christmas Tree.

And, don't worry, the laughs just keep coming...

Really, this is one blog entry that could write itself just based on the assortment of movie clips that I found (courtesy of the Movie Clips account on YouTube, might I add) to supplement today's entry.

So, now that the Griswolds...uprooted their tree and trimmed it, then comes the next step. Getting everyone together to enjoy the festivities.

Clark has invited a ton of people to enjoy the holiday. Clark's parents, Ellen's parents, Clark's Aunt Bethany and Uncle was supposed to have been a wonderful Christmas celebration with loved ones at the Griswold family home in Chicago.

But things have a way of crashing down when things get a little too perfect.

For instance, how often have you planned a party for your closest friends and family, where all the guests are accounted for...only to find that there are some unexpected or uninvited guests who show up and wreak havoc.

Enter Cousin Catherine and her husband Eddie, and two of their children, pulling up with their RV.

Here's just one example of, they bring to the festivities.

That event right there is the beginning of the end for the Griswold family Christmas.

Certainly everyone has struggles with putting up and decorating the Christmas tree. Bulbs on light strings burn out and you have to replace them. Ornaments that have been in the family for decades can get broken.

Or, you can accidentally electrocute the family pet.

(DISCLAIMER: No real animals were harmed in the making of this film).

Or, in some cases, when you bring home the tree that you worked so hard to chop down uproot, you may find a surprise guest.

(On a lighter note, it's good to see the snobby lady neighbour get her comeuppance.)

Another sore spot to the holiday season can come from the dinner. Certainly one of the biggest disasters can can make or break a holiday season can come from the Christmas dinner. Burning the pumpkin pie. Giving people food poisoning accidentally.

Having the turkey be a little...dry.

Mmmmm...I can just taste that delicious turkey now.

There's lots of other Christmas traditions that can cause your holiday party to crash and burn if executed incorrectly. Like, for instance...going sliding down a hill on a toboggan...or a silly saucer.

Or, maybe doing something simple like putting up lights on the exterior of your home?

And, then there's the possibility of getting your hopes up for a big, fat Christmas bonus from your workplace as a reward for all the hard work you put in all year long...only to find that the Christmas bonus isn't exactly all that it is cracked up to be.

This situation has happened in my family a couple of times that I can recall, and for Clark Griswold, his Christmas bonus being a big disappointment leads to one of the most epic rants that has come out of a Christmas movie. 


But somehow, everything does work out in the end. Eddie is grateful that Clark, despite all the mishaps and the stress that resulted in everything going wrong for Clark Griswold's perfect Christmas celebration, ended up giving his family a better Christmas than they would have had. He decides to give Clark a Christmas gift that only he could have thought of. Driving over to Clark's boss' house, literally kidnapping him, and bringing him to the Griswold home so that he could convince his boss that withholding the Christmas bonuses was the wrong thing to do.

Does it work? Well, I'm not going to tell.

But, I do have to post the epic last scene of the movie, just because you just have to see it.

Wasn't that a sweet moment? And, you know, I think that's what it's all about.

It doesn't matter if you have a Christmas that is perfect. It doesn't even matter if everything that goes into planning the Christmas party goes horribly wrong even. All that matters is that you're with your loved ones.

It may have been a long, frustrating lesson for Clark to learn, but I think in the end, he did end up having his perfect Griswold family Christmas after all.

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