Search ENP

Powered by Blogger.


Social Connect

Get it on Google Play

Upcoming Events

February, 2016:

Friday, February 20

ART247 Black and White Exhibition

March, 2016:

Advertise Your Event on ENP!
More info here

Monday, November 10, 2014

Christmas Vacation? A classic? You bet your panelboard station wagon it is. From the very first scene of the movie until the SWAT team beats down the Griswold’s door, this movie is potentially one of the funniest Chevy Chase ever made. The casting is perfect, the timing is precise and Chevy Chase does one of the most memorable meltdowns in movie history.

One of the elements that makes this movie ideal is the casting of Juliette Lewis as Audrey Griswold and Johnny Galecki (yes, Johnny Galecki of Big Bang Theory) as Rusty Griswold. Audrey is supposed to be the prototypical whiny teenager and Rusty is supposed to be the disassociated kid who tolerates, and even indirectly encourages, his father. None of the other actors who played Audrey and Rusty capture the characters as well as Lewis and Galecki.

Who could ever forget Aunt Bethany? There are plenty of people, including myself, who can recite her lines verbatim. While the whole relationship between Aunt Bethany, Uncle Lewis and the rest of the family is a little sketchy, the comedy works on every level.

Cousin Eddie and Clark have interaction in three of the four Vacation movies (Eddie isn’t in European Vacation), but the way Eddie and Clark play off each other in Christmas vacation is the funniest that the duo ever gets. The scenes that feature Eddie and Clark in Wal-Mart and the two of them talking in the Griswold’s living room would be extremely boring if it weren’t for the way those two played their characters.

Subtle things, like Clark picking out light bulbs and Eddie immediately crushing the light bulbs with an obscenely large bag of dog food, make the back and forth between these two memorable. At times, it almost looks like Eddie realizes that he is an idiot and starts to become offended. But then that switch goes off that turns him back into the loveable loser and the movie rambles on.

There are many iconic images that Christmas Vacation added to the American Christmas culture, but none will be as enduring as the image of Cousin Eddie emptying a chemical toilet into a storm drain outside the Griswold’s house. Admit it; you have greeted more than one person with “Merry Christmas! S*@tter’s full!” during the holiday season. I know you have, because I have heard some of you do it.

One of the other enduring parts of Christmas Vacation is how it constantly tries to get sentimental about a family’s holiday history, but fails miserably. John Hughes wrote this movie and it stands as a shining example of how much Hughes truly understands how chaotic family Christmases really are. Hughes is an expert at separating the reality of the big family Christmas from the fantasy we create from the memories we have.

Our memories have a way of filtering out the things that we disliked about family events. If you grew up in a family that fought constantly at Christmas, then you may not remember the fighting. You remember the Christmas trees, the presents and Christmas dinners, but the fighting gets edited out by your brain.

John Hughes brings all of those sour parts of big family Christmases out and reminds us that our memories are always sweeter than the actual events. In many ways, Christmas Vacation stands as a warning to people who think that they may want to re-create those big family Christmases because they are under the false impression that they will develop a whole new crop of great Christmas memories. What really happens is that the barrier our brain put up between the painful memories of family Christmases and the fantasy scenes of Christmas joy is destroyed and our lives are changed forever.

Maybe that isn’t what Hughes meant with Christmas Vacation, but that is what I got out of it. I love my childhood Christmas memories and I intend to keep them intact. At the same time, my wife and I like to keep Christmas very small and fun. That insures that our kids will have good memories as well.

But when you watch Christmas Vacation, you may start to feel some of your Christmas memories coming back and not in ways that you wanted to remember them. But it is okay, just let the movie flow through you and enjoy a masterpiece by Chevy Chase. At least this time you get to watch someone else’s big family Christmas fall apart instead of living it yourself.

Rating: 4 out of 5

George N Root III is a drive-in movie addict and fierce protector of his childhood Christmas memories. His reviews appear each week and are great ways to kill time until the drive-in reopens.

Get the daily East Niagara Post email update.
Send an email to with "email update" in the subject line.


Post a Comment

Comments are always appreciated. Your comment will be reviewed for approval before being made public.