Release Year: 1989
Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
“Christmas Vacation” is my all-time favorite Christmas movie and the second holiday movie I’m featuring this month written by John Hughes (“Home Alone”, “Sixteen Candles”, etc.). I’m not a huge fan of the other “Vacation” movies, but this one is just fantastic and stands extremely well on its own.
The plot goes thusly, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is determined to host a good old fashioned family Christmas for his clan. So, he invites both sides of the family to come stay for the holidays, much to the chagrin of his wife and kids. Clark has the tendency to overdo things, which causes the simple traditions he has planned (hanging lights, getting a Christmas tree, etc.) to go awry. Things aren’t helped when cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) shows-up unexpectedly for the holidays and adds his own brand of crazy to the mix.
While there’s a ton of really great scenes throughout “Christmas Vacation”, some of my favorite are with cousin Eddie. Just watching Clark interact with the uninvited family member is a lot of fun. Especially the small moments between them that fly under the radar. Like the one where they’re talking in the living room and Eddie completely messes up the Christmas pyramid and the scene where Eddie crushes a bunch of light-bulbs by throwing a giant bag of dog food into Clark’s shopping cart. What I love about these moments is how Clark notices it happen and, despite his exasperation, just lets it go. Like he’s just come to expect this type of stuff whenever Eddie is around and knows it’s better to just calmly move along.
Aside from the interaction between these two characters, we also have some great moments between Clark and his son, Rusty (Johnny Galecki). Rusty gets roped into helping with some of Clark’s over the top Christmas plans. It was fun to watch him have a similar reaction to his dad that Clark has to Eddie. Really, all the family members are fantastic. Especially since they’re often the most grounding characters. Most of us can relate to trying to navigate between different relatives and take subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) put-downs with a “grin and bear it” attitude, all in the name of keeping the peace.
All in all, this is a great Christmas comedy that has held up extremely well in the 26 years since it came out. If you haven’t seen “Christmas Vacation” yet and are looking for something to take the edge off of all the sugary Christmas movies out there, I would highly recommend checking it out.