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Christmas Vacation (1989) Poster

Goofs

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

Clark uses a mechanical stapler to put up the lights on the house. The sound of the stapler is that of a power stapler that is powered by an air compressor.
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When Ellen cuts a head of cabbage in half after her mother asks her if she's smoking again, the sound of the knife hitting the cutting board is heard before the knife touches the cabbage.
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Character error 

When Clark first turns on the Christmas lights, the shot from the power company has the word "Auxiliary" spelled incorrectly.
Clark says he has 25,000 lights on his house. These are the old-fashioned bulbs that draw 7 watts each; thus, Clark would be drawing 175,000 watts of power, or 175 kilowatt-hours (kW-h) continuous draw, far more than can be delivered to a single-family dwelling using the U.S. standard 120-volt electrical system. Therefore, Clark's main breaker would have instantly tripped the second he would have plugged in all the lights at once, not counting the lights on his Christmas tree and everything else electrical in his house.
Clark Sr. says "if one goes out the whole thing doesn't work" about the Christmas lights on the roof. While this is the case for lights on a serial circuit, the lights Clark puts on the roof are on a parallel circuit. If one bulb went out on these lights it would not affect the rest of them.
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When the attic ladder slides down it hits Clark in the mouth and jaw. When he's climbing into the attic in the next shot he's rubbing his forehead.
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Continuity 

The square block on the railing at the top of the stairs that Clark cuts off with a chainsaw reappears when the guests run upstairs to escape the squirrel.
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From the interior of the house, the attic ladder is shown as a slide-down, but from the attic, it has a fold-out design.
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When Clark is putting up the Christmas lights on the roof, he tells Rusty to put down the plastic reindeer and to help him. When Rusty drops the reindeer, you can clearly see at least one of their legs break off. Later, when Clark can't get the lights to start, all the legs of every reindeer are intact.
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In the scene where Aunt Bethany hears a squeaking noise, the camera pans to show Uncle Lewis asleep in a chair. Seconds later, when Clark frightens the squirrel out of the tree and everyone reacts to it, you can clearly see Uncle Lewis awake and standing up as the squirrel flies by. After the room clears, showing Aunt Bethany, knitting clueless, and Uncle Lewis still fast asleep in the same chair.
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The police cars speeding to the house were all Ford. Later, when scenes are shown with police cars parked in the background, they are all Chrysler.
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Ellen is looking at the house when the Christmas lights first go on with the light switch. When the switch is turned off she leaves and Clark returns. The extension cord is not plugged in when Clark picks it up. If that was the case the lights would not have turned on with the light switch.
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When Clark and family are hiding in the foyer from the squirrel, Catherine's arms are alternately around/not around Rusty between shots.
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When Ellen goes out to see Clark while he is trying to get the outside lights to work, her sweater jumps around on her shoulders between shots.
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When Clark is at the counter flirting with the girl, the looseness of his tie changes between shots.
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When Clark slides down the roof of the house, he grabs on to the rain gutter which rips off, but in the next shot of him crawling along the gutter, it is merely bent down.
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While the family is standing in the doorway after Clark gets the Christmas lights working, you can clearly see that this house is different from the house used for the inside shots. The inside shots show that the wooden stairs are directly in front of the doorway, however when shown in this scene the stairs are gone.
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The moon is full prior to December 18th and the moon is still full on the 24th
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Number of people in the truck in the chase scene.
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The area rug at the base of the stairs moves between shots when the family runs up the stairs during the squirrel chase.
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When the outside lights first go on and neighbors Margo and Todd are blinded by the light, they stumble and Margo's bare breasts are exposed as she leans forward with her pajama top open. Moments later she is in the same unbuttoned pajama top but now is wearing a black bra.
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The door knocker and wreath are intact after being pulled off by the delivery man.
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Clark staples the wrong part of his shirt to the roof.
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When Clark is putting up the lights outside, the top section of the ladder gives way and slides to the ground. However, since the lower half of the ladder isn't leaning against anything, there is no way that the ladder could slide this way without falling forward into the house.
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When we see the grandparent's in Rusty's bunk beds, the top bunk is a good four feet or more from the ceiling. But when Clark falls through the attic floor and lands on his feet on the top bunk, the ceiling level is only at his knees.
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At one point when Snot the Dog is chasing the squirrel through the house, they run over the top of the dining table, and the food, plates, and silverware get demolished. A moment later, Clark is walking past the hallway leading to the kitchen with the table visible in the background. The tablecloth and setting are in pristine condition.
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The Christmas tree is visible then not visible from the same position in the dining room where Clark is sitting, especially before the first one burns down.
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When Clark is first stapling the lights near the gutters, the amount of snow on the house changes between shots.
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In the close-up shots of Clark stapling, fake snow can be seen. None is present on the wider shots.
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Two different model years of Ford Taurus wagon are used in the film for the same vehicle. This can be differentiated by examining the interior door trim panels, specifically the door lock, in different scenes.
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When Clark announces he was going to use the bonus check to install a swimming pool (and anything remaining would be used to fly them all out to dedicate it), the camera shot over Ellen's shoulder shows her expression of joy, but when the camera angle switches to show her more face on, her facial expression is more of shock and horror.
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When the house first lights up, the aerial shots show an RV in the driveway, even though Eddie and Catherine have not arrived yet.
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Just before the sledding scene, the hill in front of the family is very rough, with large mounds of snow, but when Clark does down the hill, it has become very smooth.
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When Clark is looking into the dining room watching his family argue, the chandelier is gone; in the very next shot it is back.
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When Clark is polishing his sled, the bottom is smooth, but when it is going through the forest there are fins on the bottom.
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When Clark is showing Uncle Louis and Aunt Bethany into the house, you can clearly see an electric cord running from the lighted wreath on the front door down through the mail slot. When the interior side of the door is show, the cord is gone.
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When Clark faints after being told of bonus he starts to fall right; next camera angle shows him falling to the left.
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In the beginning of the the credits, right when Santa starts reading his Christmas list, there is a pencil in his hair, but before he sat up to look at the list, there was no pencil in his hair.
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When the family arrives at the tree to cut it down, the view from the top of the tree shows many, many foot prints around them that would not have been there.
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When they are in the car at the beginning of the movie, and each time Clark floors the accelerator, the background in the shots of Clark and Ellen shows the car is moving at a slow and constant speed.
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When Clark breaks through the plaster ceiling while trapped in the attic he lands on presumably Rusty's bunk bed. The poster of the two turtles, the Bears Pennant, the eagle graphic are all gone, replaced by steer horns and the upper bunk is much closer to the ceiling.
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When the squirrel jumps out of the tree, everyone in the room gets up or reacts in some way. The camera then shows Clark yelling for a second before switching back to the family room. When it goes back, some of the people are in different positions then they were before. This is most noticeable with Uncle Lewis who is now standing, Ellen's father Art (in the blue sweater on the couch) because he stands up in both scenes, and Ellen's mother Frances who drops her monopoly cards twice.
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When Clark goes outside to cut down a new Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, the lights on the tree that has just burned down (and can be seen lying on the curb, with the lights still on it) are visible through the living room window.
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After the ice crashes through the neighbors window the neighbors are looking at the mess. in the long shot looking at the window you can see vases that would have been broken or at least knocked over when the ice came through.
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The window design of Todd and Margo's house changes between exterior and interior shots (specifically the semi circle part at the top).
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When Clark is hugging everyone after he finally gets the Christmas lights to work, he says "Russ, Audrey" and hugs Audrey; however, Russ is nowhere to be seen.
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When Clark gets the attention of everyone at the dinner table and asks Bethany to say grace, Clark's mom picks up a glass of wine and holds it in her right hand. When the camera angle changes, her hands are suddenly empty and she picks up the wine glass with her right hand again.
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The morning after Clark shoots the neighbor's window out with the ice from the gutter, as Clark is trapped in the attic and the family is getting into the car to go shopping, you can see the window is now undamaged.
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The Griswolds trudge through waist-deep snow to arrive at their Christmas tree, in a geographical area not indicative of the flat landscape of the Midwest, no less, yet when they arrive in the clearing to see their 'Halleluiah' tree, they don't have a single snowflake on their clothing.
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When Clark slides down the roof while setting up Christmas lights, the shot shows the staple gun he was using sliding down in front of him. However in the next shot the staple gun is no longer there.
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When the exterior lights first illuminate, the wide shot of the town reveals Eddie's RV in the driveway. In the cutaway scene when Clark is punching the Santa Clause, the RV is missing.
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When Lewis is standing next to the tree getting ready to light his stogie (and the tree), two shots from the dining room into the living room don't show him standing there.
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When Frances Smith closes the attic door, The steps are clearly on a telescoping rail system. Then when Clark tries to immediately get out he lifts the ladder up and bangs it on the door, showing that it is now the model that folds out with hinges.
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The swat team leader tells Clark "I told you to freeze", and Clark asks "May we blink?". Behind the swat leader, the front door is standing wide open. After Clark asks "May we blink?", Mrs. Shirley and the police chief enter the house through the front door, but when they do, they open the door, the same door that was standing wide open seconds before.
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Crew or equipment visible 

About midway through Clark's rant, a crewperson's head dips into the bottom left corner of one of the long shots.
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Just before Clark takes off down the hill in the sledding scene, there is a shot looking down the hill where you can clearly see the wires/cord in the snow that are used to make it look like the snow flies in the air as the sled races down the hill.
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When Uncle Lewis burns down the Christmas tree and Clark sees the ball of fire out of the corner of his eye, he gets up and walks towards the living room. If you look closely, a crew member's shadow can be seen walking past the dining room window behind Clark.
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After Clark cuts the Christmas tree and the tree expands to its natural size, the second tree limb to break through the window has a 2x4 attached to it. This must have been used to push the branch through the glass.
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When Clark's sled is about to crash into the wood hut, the shadow of the camera is visible.
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The scene where Clark is getting his coffee in the office talking to his co-worker you can clearly see the crew in the reflection of the coffee pot.
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Several shots show the dining room has no ceiling, but rather a grid of beams.
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When Clark sees the "Perfect tree" in the forest, you can see a red truck over his left shoulder. They had walked far out into the forest where there are no roads.
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Errors in geography 

The Christmas tree trip shows small mountains in the background and log-hauling trucks on the highway, neither of which accurately represent an Illinois landscape.
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When Ellen and Clark are outside alone trying to light the Santa, a "wet-barrel" fire hydrant that cannot possibly be used in Chicago, IL due to freezing is visible. This type of fire hydrant is found in Southern California where there is no chance of freezing.
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Factual errors 

Clark Griswold's Ford Taurus station wagon is shown to have exterior wood paneling, an option that was never available on this car. (However, it's possible the exterior appliques were added by the filmmakers as a nod to the "Wagon Queen Family Truckster" the Griswold family bought in National Lampoon's Vacation.)
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Clark informs Eddie that the sewer is a storm run-off sewer, implying that the waste material Eddie is pumping into it will not be treated; additionally, with the absence of precipitation or significant melting, Eddie's chemicals remain stagnant until the end of the film. In reality, Chicago has a single, unified sewer system; storm run-off and wastewater run through the same mains for processing by the MWRDGC and the mains are therefore constantly flowing with effluent.
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The swimming pool brochure Clark shows his coworker is for an above ground pool. The amount of money he states he has invested and his daydream both refer to the pool as an in-ground pool.
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Miscellaneous 

In the hostage scene, Ellen says to Mrs. Shirley, "This is our family's first kidnapping." Actually, it's their second. They kidnapped the Wally World employee (John Candy) in the original Vacation movie.
The long hair wig on the head of child actress Ellen Hamilton Latzen (Ruby Sue) is obvious in several shots, particularly when Ruby Sue is talking to Clark after his hallucination of the buxom saleslady.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

The family Christmas tree shrinks smaller and smaller throughout the movie. This could be because they trimmed it back considerably so it didn't take up the whole room.
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When Clark is locked in the attic, he sees a movie reel marked "Christmas 1959", but when he's later watching movies, it says "Christmas 1955". However, there might have been several year's worth of Xmas movies, and the first one we see him watching wasn't necessarily the first reel he looked at in the box.
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Plot holes 

At the beginning, the Griswolds are driving home with their new Christmas tree, roots and all, yet they brought no tools with them. All four of the Griswold's together could not uproot a 25-foot tall tree, let alone strap it to the roof of their vehicle without tools or equipment.
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Revealing mistakes 

A tow rope is visible pulling Clark's sled.
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When Clark gets trapped in the attic, skylights are visible, yet from the outside of the house, they are gone.
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When the family is first outside to see the lights that Clark put up, there is no steam from their breath, even though it is clear that it is below freezing.
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In any of the varying outdoor scenes, the temperature is obviously supposed to be cold (judging by the snow and ice, the characters' comments, their clothing, etc.) as it normally would be in Chicago in winter. Yet the steam from their breath is never visible as it would be at such a temperature.
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When Eddie leaves Frank's mansion, the "snow" in the driveway wiggles.
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When Clark begins to put lights on his house, the house to his left has an obvious man-made snow pattern on the roof - one part has snow, the other part does not.
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When Clark is putting up the Christmas lights, snow covered evergreen trees are visible. When the ladder falls backwards, trees (birch?) are clearly shown with no snow & full green leaves, which they would have lost well before December.
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After Clark's encounter with Mary, the underwear salesgirl, a shot of the street and house is shown, and a tree can be seen in the front yard, with the fake-snow covered leaves blowing in the wind.
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When Russ goes to turn the breakers back on, they are already switched fully off. When breakers truly trip they only trip halfway off, forcing you to switch them to the full off position, then on.
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When the SWAT team arrives to rescue Mr. Shirley, the entire Griswold house is dark, yet the whole family is inside with all the lights on, but they are not shining through any of the windows. Even when the SWAT team breaks through the windows they are dark, yet the second they arrive inside the house, it is still well lit.
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The attic door that 'traps' Clark in the attic always has a way to open from the inside. The chain on the outside is a simple pull-latch mechanism that can be grasped from the inside; thus, Clark was never really trapped in the attic.
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The chainsaw that Clark uses to "fix" the newel post has no chain. A chainsaw with a chain would produce much more sawdust than shown.
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Right before Clark goes to try out the lubricant that is "500 times more slippery than cooking oil", the pyrotechnic line that Clark takes can be seen going down the hill before it ignites.
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When Clark falls and grabs the gutter, you can see in the gutter Clark grabs has is no snow/ice in it, and that the gutter that Clark is holding onto is broken. Then it cuts to the ladder, the cuts back to Clark holding the gutter, but the gutter isn't broken anymore, and has snow/ice in it.
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When Clark and Ellen are in bed after the tree with all the sap, Clark is having trouble with the magazine sticking to him. At the final scene when he turns out the lamp, you can clearly see a handle on the lamp for him to grab to making it look like it was sticking to him. Also, when his hand is supposedly stuck to Ellen's hair, you can clearly see that he's actually holding on to it and pulling it toward him.
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The position of the gutter where the icicle shot out is clearly much lower than the window of Clark's neighbor.
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The position of the attic door and chimney visible from inside the attic does not correspond to the same position in the house as evidenced when Ellen opens the attic door and Clark falls out.
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In the squirrel scene, when the Snots breaks through the door, there is already a large hole in it with sizable pieces resting stationary on the floor before his paw is even through.
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After Clark gets his Christmas lights to work and they show the power meter going very fast, all the needles are going the wrong way.
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As the dog chases the squirrel through the house, one shot has the squirrel disappear suddenly, revealing the jump cut between the shot of the squirrel and the shot of the dog.
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Clark's glasses don't have prescription lenses in them. They are flat glass lenses. This is evident when he is in the car at the beginning of the movie.
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Obvious stunt doubles for Clark and Uncle Lewis when Clark puts out the fire on Uncle Lewis's jacket.
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When Clark opens his front door to greet the courier, the door knocker and wreath completely dislodge, even though they were double-bolted from the inside through a 2" thick solid door.
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After they get their first Christmas tree up and Clark gets the sap on his hands, he is laying in bed reading a magazine. Whenever he turns a page, his fingers get stuck in the pages, but when he lays the magazine down, his fingers are not stuck to it, then you can see his hand stuck in his wife's hair and on the lamp.
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Matte lines visible around Santa's sleigh when it gets blasted into the air.
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After Louis lights his cigar near the Griswold's Christmas tree, there is a ball of fire that rapidly shoots straight out from a gas jet, and is not consistent with the combustion of a dry Christmas tree, which would burn much, much slower, in lieu of the fact that the tree could not have ignited merely from a nearby burning cigar.
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During the squirrel chase scene, the dog appears to knock over a cabinet/hutch, but it falls as if it had been pulled out from the middle, not hit by the dog. The dog's body can also be seen going behind the cabinet rather than hitting it.
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Despite living in chilly Chicago, the Griswolds' attic has no insulation.
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Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Factual errors 

When Rusty resets the circuit breaker after the cat is electrocuted, he simply turns the breaker back on. After a circuit breaker "trips", it would go to the center position, and have to be turned all the way "off" before being turned back on.
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Revealing mistakes 

When Rusty resets the circuit breaker after the cat is electrocuted the breaker that he resets is a double-pole breaker which may be used if the outlet jumper was removed (2 circuits on 1 device), or the fault current caused by the cat was so great that the panel main tripped before the receptacle circuit breaker tripped.
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Revealing mistakes 

Lifting wires are visible when Uncle Lewis goes into the air, when the sewer blows up at the end of the movie, after he lights the cigar launching Santa and his sleigh into the air.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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