Critic Reviews



Based on 18 critic reviews provided by
Solid family fare with plenty of yocks...For the most part, helmer Jeremiah Chechik makes an adept debut, injecting plenty of energy and spirit.
Credit first-time director Jeremiah S. Chechik for his sure-handed rein on Christmas Vacation's polar opposites of sentimental and satirical sides. It makes for a smooth-sledding comedy.
One of the great unanswered questions in Hollywood is how Chevy Chase still gets work. Although his appeal is not as incomprehensible as that of, say, Pauly Shore, it's not obvious, either; "range" is one word no one will ever use in conjunction with Chase's acting ability.
Chase presides amiably over this uneven but affable slapstick comedy.
Although Chase is very funny, the first half-hour of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION is rather flat; the film really comes to life until the arrival of Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), who steals the picture. Nevertheless, with enough sight gags to please slapstick fans and enough good-natured Christmas cheer to qualify as a good holiday film, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION should keep most viewers occupied and provide 97 minutes of goofy entertainment.
Chevy Chase has not been on a roll lately, and to say that in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation he's funnier than in his last six movies combined may sound like high praise, until you remember those six movies. "Caddyshack II" alone almost throws them into the "minus" laugh range. But here, he does what he does best: flat-out slapstick and subversive tear-downs of his own smooth image. This sweet, goofball, manic middle-class daddy brings out his sharpest reflexes and he gets good support from D'Angelo, the bulging-eyed slob-in-excelsis Quaid, and from Questel and Hickey as his dottiest relations.
The movie is curious in how close it comes to delivering on its material: Sequence after sequence seems to contain all the necessary material, to be well on the way toward a payoff, and then it somehow doesn't work.
Chicago Tribune
In this third outing for the Griswolds - following the dismal "National Lampoon's European Vacation" in 1985 - the satirical edge has given way to sentimentality and a whiff of smugness, while the black humor has degenerated into broad slapstick. It's a tribute to first-time director Jeremiah Chechik's fine sense of timing that the obvious physical gags still generate some substantial laughs, though they arrive almost in spite of Hughes' tired script. [1 Dec 1989, p.Friday A]
Fatigue is in the air. This third look at the quintessentially middle-American Griswold family, led by Clark (Mr. Chase) and the very patient Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) is only a weary shadow of the original ''National Lampoon's Vacation,'' which found a lot to laugh at as it followed the dopey paterfamilias Clark and his quarrelsome brood on a hellish cross-country journey in their station wagon. The new film does little more than reintroduce these familiar characters (with new actors playing the children, who would otherwise be college age by now) and let them get on one another's nerves in earnest.
Boston Globe
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is yet another factory product that plays more like a marketing strategy than a comedy. Like the other farces bearing the National Lampoon brand label, it's a comedy of obliviousness - family man Chevy Chase refuses to alter his sentimental notions of family rituals despite repeatedly being slammed in the face with evidence of how far short of his expectations they fall. Here, the word "vacation" is a misnomer. The Griswold family, headed by Chase, doesn't go anywhere. Neither does the film.

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