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on April 15, 2004
It's amazing that Chevy Chase wasn't maimed or killed during the making of this movie. I know, there were plenty of stunt players who fell off the roof, crashed through the attic, were flung about into brick walls, etc.---but still! Chevy, who had a well-publicized stint in the Betty Ford Clinic for addiction to painkillers (due to extreme back pain caused by, of all things, his numerous falls on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970's while spoofing then-President Gerald Ford---how ironic is that???), certainly took on a certain level of risk in reprising his role as the perpetually clumsy, but good-intentioned, WASP patriarch Clark Wilhelm Griswold, Jr. in this, the third installment of the VACATION series by Chase's old comedy troupe, National Lampoon.
Having not seen (as of yet, believe it or not) either VACATION or EUROPEAN VACATION, I was a bit unfamiliar with the main characters; however, CHRISTMAS VACATION got me to know them real fast. I have to admit, I have not been a Chevy Chase fan since the '70's, during and immediately after his SNL days. (Let's face facts, the show made him an instant star, but he was never really one of the funniest members of the Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players.) However, I believe that he gives a truly inspired comedic performance in CHRISTMAS VACATION. I'm not even referring to the copious physical comedy he displays. I'm actually talking about his comedic acting! I love the manic energy with which Chase infuses his role, and the crazed look in his eye when his character is pushed over the edge. Beverly D'Angelo, as patient but frequently unamused wife Ellen, provides a good low-key foil for his over-the-top antics. She's well-cast and, I must say, beautiful.
As far as acting talent goes, this film has no shortage in this department. A pre-stardom Juliette Lewis is welcome as Griswold daughter Audrey, and a very young Johnny Galecki is engaging as her kid brother Russell (three years before he was cast as Darlene's lazy boyfriend David on the hit TV show "Roseanne"). We also get memorable performances from E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts, an unrecognizable Dianne Ladd, and a hysterically funny William Hickey. Rounding out the mix is Randy Quaid as filthy slob Cousin Eddie (who parks his trailer in the driveway), Nicholas Guest and Julia-Louis Dreyfus as the bland and stuck-up neighbors next door, and Brian Doyle-Murray who serves up good moments as Clark's old crabby boss.
The problem with CHRISTMAS VACATION is that, while it does contain some very funny scenes with lots of great, memorable one-liners, it is marred by inferior direction on the part of first-time director Jeremiah Chechik. He tends to interlace the fast-paced physical scenes with long, slow ones that grind the movie to a dead halt every time. While I didn't expect the level of non-stop, lightning-paced zaniness a la AIRPLANE!, these extended slow breaks (that usually focus on a character staring dreamily into the sky) are awkwardly placed and paced, and thereby create an uneven viewing experience. However, John Hughes' smart and wickedly funny script pretty much saves the day. I wouldn't add this to the list of perennial must-see Christmas films (such as A CHRISTMAS STORY or IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE), but CHRISTMAS VACATION does offer a lot of fun for the whole family (except for kids under the age of 10, as the language is well-seasoned with four-letter words). If it does nothing else, this film should make you feel a lot better about your Christmas!
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on January 20, 2004
When you buy Christmas Vacation buy it for the movie that it is not for the special features and just watch the movie that way it is. Although stay away from that commentary track because you will probably hate this movie after viewing the commentary track. O.K there are just too many people talking on that commentary I used to wonder the more people on a DVD commentary track the better looks like I was wrong these actors in the film most of them except the king of the film Chevy Chase? are just talking and talking about some of the worst things Beverly D'Angelo talks about her hair and people just interrupt each other like they have no manners or something and they talk of Chevy Chase like he has passed on or something. The commentary on the original vacation is much better Chevy Chase is on that one and Director Harold Ramis and Matty Simmons give alot more insightful information about the film. I do not know what happened on the Christmas Vacation DVD though the commentary stinks! Just watch the film as it is and laugh your butt off I wish though Warner Bros would released alot more on the DVD like how about a featurette or maybe the Making of Christmas Vacation or possibly there had to have been at least one Deleted Scene. I know Warner Bros has these things but they are just not releasing these bits. The picture though looks great. Warner Bros needs to add more to there DVD's they are kind of plain and has anyone ever seen the DVD for that other Chevy Chase movie Funny Farm it just doesn't get any plainer than that but anyway Christmas Vacation is a winner but the extras are WEAK.
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on March 31, 2003
In my opinion, 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' is in fact the best of the four Vacation movies. The slapstick usage is hilarious; and a certain step up from the original and 'NL's European Vacation'. The Griswolds are a fun-loving, ill-fated bunch that deliver the laughs like no other [movie] family out there. This is certainly one that the whole family can enjoy; year after year after year for that matter. 'Christmas Vacation' is no doubt a timeless classic. And in the third of four Vacation flicks, they deliver with greater triumph. Even so, I did find a few weak things within the film's success.
This is one of the funniest, and best, Christmas comedy movies available; though (in my opinion) not one of Chevy Chase's best performances. I think he is so much better in both 'Fletch' and 'Fletch Lives'. As he does in all the vacation movies, Chase (as Clark Griswold) seems to not be phased at all by the endless bad things that happen to him and his family. It's hard to believe they wouldn't give up; but I guess that's what makes them the Griswolds in the first place. Anyway, Chevy Chase is not a "humbug" kind-of guy. On another low point, the family doesn't really go on a true "vacation". I have a hard time understanding how National Lampoon can call this a Vacation movie if they never actually leave town. Maybe they wanted to give us a look into the home lives of the Griswolds; or something to that effect. It seemed to work, yet it's not quite what you'll be used to. Also, the character of Audrey Griswold was replaced (formerly Dana Hill) with Juliette Lewis. The same goes for the role of Russell. Jason Lively was replaced by child star Johnny Galecki. Neither of the replacements are half as good as the originals; the director must've been looking for more of a fan-base. On a more optimistic note, the appearances by infamous funnyman Randy Quaid and Seinfeid co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus are very pleasant. Maybe not Quaid's character so much; his irritable, unemployed character is rather, well... quaint. But, as Clark's angered neighbors, Julia and Nicolas Guest offer some comical relief from the Griswold's continual faults. The troubles Clark and co. have seem to turn on their neighbors. That worked well for the movie, I think.
As I've mentioned, I think this is the best Vacation film. But that is a very arguable statement. There are a lot of differences; some good, some bad, that make this one rather special. However, a fact is that whether at Christmas time or not, you'll enjoy it. There's parts that we can easily relate to (example: competing with neighbors to see who has the most/best Xmas lights), whereas there's things we couldn't even imagine (example: putting a 25-foot tree in the house). Whatever the relevance between you and the movie; it makes no difference in the end. I gave this only 3 stars because I am not a huge fan of the Vacation films; and I don't feel they (this one) showcase the spot-on talents of Chevy Chase as good as the 'Fletch' movies do. Still, enjoy 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' over and over again. If you haven't seen it yet, you're missing out on one of the best Christmas movies around; and the best of the Vacation series.
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on December 21, 2002
"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacaton" was about one of the least films I'd have in my Christmas library. I rented it, and watched it last night. It has quite a bit of funny sequences, but there are totally unacceptable scenes in there. It makes Chevy Chase look like someone who has a real sick sense of humor. Also, near the end, he curses like mad, and uses the "F" word. UNACCEPTABLE AND SHOCKING!! I don't blame the MPAA for giving this picture the PG-13 rating. It's not for little kids to see by themselves. All of the family members are psycho people and behave like idiots. They make me laugh a few times, though. My favorite scenes are where Chevy Chase falls through the attic, lights the 25,000 lights up (I thought he was going to blow the whole power grid out) and all the rest of the lights in town dim, and they have to use nuclear power in order for them to work. Also, the SWAT team battle stations outside, the sewer overflowing and exploding and the dog, Snots (bad name), chasing the squirrel through the house which becomes a demolition derby. Think what you like, but I have to pass this up. The cursing, the sick humor at points spoil the picture.
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on December 17, 2003
Lower key and perhaps more endearing than its predecessors, this third installment of the Vacation saga finds the Clark W. Griswolds hosting their family for some Christmas fun. Chevy returns as usual as the hapless every-dad family man overseeing his latest 'mission' to provide a Christmas that he has never had. The Audrey and Russ turn-over rate continues, this time with Juliette Lewis and the kid from Rosanne. Beverly D'Angelo's Ellen returns, displaying her new face lift, can't even smile fully now, which is a pity. The sight gags remain, but despite the presence of cousin-in-law Randy Quaid, this movie strives for and to some extent succeeds in giving us a more personal, intimate glimpse of Clark and the family dynamics. I wouldn't consider this a classic, and it doesn't take the crown from the first film, but it does improve on the second's dreadful outing.
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on May 21, 2002
I can safely say that this is BY FAR the best Christmas movie out to date, perhaps even the best comedy. Chevy Chase is at his comedic best in what I feel is his greatest movie ever. He stars as Clark W. Griswold (the character he portrayed in two "Vacation" movies prior to this, in addition to one released about 8 years after.
Anyhow, the premise of this film is that Clark wants his ENTIRE family over for the Christmas holidays, so with over a dozen relatives crammed in the Griswold house, all hilarity breaks loose. From a house draped in Christmas lights, a fried cat, and a squirrel/dog chase, to an exploding turkey, a slippery sled and Chevy Chase flipping out every 30 seconds, you have all the ingredients for one hilarious movie.
So, that being said, I gave this DVD edition only 3 stars. This is simply because this movie has been released in the FULL SCREEN FORMAT. This indeed takes away from the film a great deal, and by far deserves the anamorphic widescreen treatment. I don't mind so much about commentary, behind the scenes aspects, etc. But they should have at least given this film the treatment it deserves.
I can only hope that Warner Brothers have listened to everybody's cries, and release a special edition of this film in widescreen format. I don't think it's asking for much. I've talked to plenty of people who have told me that watching this movie is a holiday tradition. So, hopefully we can see this happen, perhaps before the next holiday season.
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on December 16, 1998
Ever since Clark (Chevy Chase) was a young boy he wanted to host a fun-filled family Christmas. This year he takes things too far with exploding Christmas trees, dogs, squirrels, and lights, lights, lights. Finale includes police, swat teams, and a winebago. One of the best scenes is where Clark goes for the world amatuer saucer-sled land speed record using a new kitchen lubricant his company has invented. A must see for the holidays and a classic 'B' movie. My wife's favorite holiday classic.
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on December 22, 2001
Funny and a lot more family friendly than the first Vacation movie which had an R rating. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Rusty seemed to have gotten younger and Audrey older? In the first movie wasn't Rusty who was played by Anthony Michael Hall actually older than Audrey who was played by Dana Barron? Minor thing but it's just something I've always wondered about since first seeing National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
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on December 10, 2000
Of course this is one of the best Christmas films of all time. It is a family classic whenever relatives come into town. This is the reason I bought it on DVD. Unfortunately, the DVD is not worth the buy. There are only a couple extras and the sound and quality seem as though they weren't even the least bit tweaked. Hence, if you own a great home entertainment system, prepare to be disappointed. When I played this movie on my DTS system, I only got left and right fronts to give any output.
Sorry to come down so hard on such a wonderful movie, but the difference between VHS and DVD on this film is very minimal.
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on December 23, 2003
This is my favorite Christmas movie and never a year passes that I don't watch it at least once. I'm glad to have this on widescreen DVD. The commentary track is awful - especially Beverly D'Angelo who rambles on about her hair. The worst commentary track I've ever heard.
Still if you don't have this on DVD, get it!
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