CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989)
THE GIST: Having made it to Wally World, Europe and back, the Griswalds (Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo and this movie’s Audrey and Rusty – Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki) decide to take a good ol’ staycation for the holiday season. But of course, Christmas chaos and unwanted visits from Uncle Eddie (Randy Quaid – pre-Canadiana craziness) still ensue.
NAUGHTY OR NICE?: More or less naughty. Like when Clark takes a private trip to the lingerie department and gets way-too-friendly with the counter girl. Or when he fantasizes about a Phoebe Cates-lookalike sauntering out of their imaginary pool. But otherwise it’s pretty PG-13. And when I say PG-13, I mean the ’80s version of PG-13.
WHY IT GETS US IN THE SPIRIT: As most of us know by now, contrary to what these cartoon TV specials told us as kids, Christmas isn’t really the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, most of the time, it’s just a source of extra stress. Especially when your extended (and highly eccentric) fam is around. So a movie that expresses that is more than welcome come in our households come Christmas Eve.
MAGIC MOMENT: There are countless festive funnies (the extra dry turkey, the window-crashing tree, the extreme toboggan trip) in this yuletide yukfest. But my personal favourite has to be the Christmas lights fiasco. When his 25,000 rooftop bulbs fail to turn on again (it’s a constant battle for Mr. Griswald), Clark goes a bit nuts, attacking a plastic Santa. But then he goes inside, plays with a switches and voila! He illuminates the entire city – and brownsout the entire country.
SANTA SIGHTING!: Clark dresses up as Old Saint Nick to try and convince Eddie’s kids that the big guy still exists.
ACCOMPANYING CAROL: Why the Christmas Vacation theme song by Mavis Staples, of course!
PERFECT PRESENT FOR: Your overworked mom (or dad), who should be taking a break over Christmas but just seems to be getting wrapped up in over-gifting, overdecorating and all-around over-preparing.