7.6/10
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272 user 101 critic

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

PG-13 | | Comedy | 1 December 1989 (USA)
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The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Director:

Jeremiah S. Chechik (as Jeremiah Chechik)

Writer:

John Hughes
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28 ( 22)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chevy Chase ... Clark
Beverly D'Angelo ... Ellen
Juliette Lewis ... Audrey
Johnny Galecki ... Rusty
John Randolph ... Clark, Sr.
Diane Ladd ... Nora
E.G. Marshall ... Art
Doris Roberts ... Francis
Randy Quaid ... Cousin Eddie Johnson
Miriam Flynn ... Cousin Catherine Johnson
Cody Burger Cody Burger ... Rocky
Ellen Latzen ... Ruby Sue (as Ellen Hamilton Latzen)
William Hickey ... Lewis
Mae Questel ... Bethany
Sam McMurray ... Bill
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Storyline

It's Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark's continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There's No Place Like Home For A Holiday! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 December 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Christmas Vacation See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,700,000, 3 December 1989

Gross USA:

$71,320,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When shopping with Clark, Eddie asks Clark if it was his company that "killed all those people in India". He is referencing the Bhopal disaster, also known as the Union Carbide disaster, in which leaks from a Union Carbide pesticide plant escaped into the air. Thousands of people died, and many more were sickened. See more »

Goofs

About midway through Clark's rant, a crewperson's head dips into the bottom left corner of one of the long shots. See more »

Quotes

Bethany: Is your house on fire, Clark?
Clark: No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"THE END" is lit up in Christmas lights. One of the bulbs pops, making the lit up "THE END" go dark. See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK PG Blu Ray version has the uncut Danny Kaye line. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Home Alone 3 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

We Wish You a Merry Christmas
(uncredited)
Traditional
Performed by Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Best Vaction/Christmas Movie
14 November 2000 | by CuriosityKilledShawnSee all my reviews

Poor Clark Griswold, no matter how optimistic he is, his family vacations always seem to go severely wrong. First time around he went across America in a metallic pea Station Wagon and it ended in disaster. Then they went across Europe and met similar, albeit much less funny, results.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Griswolds, Clark is food additives expert who works for a company that doesn't appreciate him. He sets high standards for holiday events that no one can live up to and is notorious for dragging his grudging family along on every painstaking detail of every scheme. His wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) is the voice of reason, who keeps the family rooted in reality and responds with frequent deadpan bewilderment to his constant disasters. The long-suffering kids, Russ and Audrey (Johnny Galecki and a very young Juliette Lewis) have turned into the living embodiment of pure cynicism, but there's no talking any sense into Clark Griswold. Ever!

But now Clark just wants to stay at home in the snowy Chicago suburbs for a 'fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas' and he's going to let nothing stop him. His enthusiasm for the holidays manages to infect the audience and you'll be rooting for him the whole way. He's an anti-Scrooge and if you're having a Christmas crisis then you need to watch this movie. Any disasters can be overcome.

But that's easier said than done. He didn't bargain on bickering family members (including the voice of Betty Boop, Mae Questel, as a senile old aunt), a house covered in non-working Christmas lights, a seriously over-cooked turkey, snotty Yuppie neighbors making fun of him or Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his hickabilly family turning up unannounced to sponge some Christmas cheer off him.

What stops it from being just another generic Christmas movie is a brilliant script by John Hughes packed full of hilarious set-pieces and perfect comic timing from Chevy Chase. He's a great actor but his appeal sadly declined in the 90s when he refused to evolve into more serious roles like Bill Murray did. Clark Griswold and Fletch are probably his most famous roles and this Vacation is definitely one you need to take.

It's hard to pick the best moments but Randy Quaid's sudden appearance will make you grin a mile wide, a cat wrapped up in a box (with Happy Birthday paper!) that meets an unfortunate end and 'an asshole in his bathrobe emptying a chemical toilet into the sewer' are just plain brilliant. But what gives Christmas Vacation something more that makes it so much more special that all the other Christmas movies is that wonderful theme song! It's absolutely brilliant! But that ain't the only great tune the film as to offer. There are also some classic songs by Ray Charles, Bing Crosby and Gene Autry.

Although not the best of the bunch (Harold Ramis' direction had an evil edge to the first film that made it just that little bit better), this film has become a Yuletide classic and must be watched every year. Since Christmas is full of annual traditions this film is definitely one you should add to the list. It would criminal to give it anything less that the highly coveted 10/10.


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