“The Most Quoted/Quotable Christmas Movie EVER Made” OR
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
By Frank “THE GROCKLE” Browning
Oh man, where to begin. I’ve so much to say from so many angles on this one I scarcely know where to start…So, how does one put into words the awesomeness that is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? There are SO many awesome things to consider in this gem, so I’ma just get to ‘em as we go along. I hope to Gandhi’s hiney that everyone’s seen this movie by now. This beast has been out for over 20 years. If you haven’t seen it, prepare for spoilers and ridicule galore.
I watched this movie once a day, every day, for an entire year in 1994. Well, I’d watch the first 20 minutes of it as I drifted off to sleep. I did the same thing with T2 in 1996. Don’t ask…
As is necessary, my family and I give this film multiple viewings each holiday season. However, for reasons unknown, we’ve been watching this film almost daily since Halloween and have easily watched it 50 times. The multiple viewings have allowed me to notice a few things, which I will point out later, that the casual viewer may not notice.
First off, I’ll give an uber-quick rundown (and a look of extreme disappointment) to anyone who needs it. The Griswold family skewers the Yuletide season as they prepare to invite numerous dysfunctional relatives into the household to celebrate Christmas. Oh, and a cat gets vaporized. Fires and Squirrels and Chainsaws, OH MY!
As is customary in my world, it is imperative that I spend some time on the awesome cast.
Chevy Chase heads up the cast as Clark Griswold.
What He’s Known For: National Lampoon’s Vacation series, SNL circa 1975-ish, Caddy Shack Films and a whole list of comedy gems…
Where’s He Now?: More of his recent work includes NBC’s sitcom Community and his role in Hot Tub Time Machine.
Beverly D'Angelo stars as Ellen Griswold.
What She’s Known For: Long-time girlfriend of Al Pacino (are they still together? Is Al Pacino still alive?), National Lampoon’s Vacation series, American History X, The Sentinel (FREAKY!!!!)
Where’s She Now?: More of her recent work includes Cougartown and Entourage.
Juliette Lewis stars as Audrey Griswold.
What She’s Known For: Natural Born Killers, From Dusk Till Dawn, Strange Days.
Where’s She Now?: More of her recent work includes guest starring on TV’s The Firm.
Lewis took some hardcore roles through the 90’s and into the 00’s but it seems she’s calmed down a bit these past few years. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The years have been kind to her.
Johnny Galecki stars as Russ “Rusty” Griswold.
What He’s Known For: Roseanne, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Suicide Kings.
Where’s He Now?: Well, obviously he’s now Dr. Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory...
In this case, I’ll be focusing on the immediate Griswold family because I don’t have enough time to go through the entire cast with Cousin Eddies and Aunt Bethanies and Uncle Lewises…
As the name of this article states, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is easily the most quotable Christmas Comedy Film in existence. For a person like me, this is a big deal because over 75% of the things I say to people are quotes from movies. You're gonna need a bigger boat. Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. The lines from this film have permeated American culture (Or is it just us Hillbillies?) to an extent we don’t realize. And it’s not limited only to Christmas time. Think back. How many times have you answered “Fried Pussy-Cat” when someone asks “What is that smell?” I can honestly say that every time someone gives me an obscenely large list of things to do, the words “Is there anything else I can do for you, Uncle Lewis?” flow from my lips. It’s like second nature. How many times have you answered, “Bend over and I’ll show you” when someone asks you where you plan to put something (that’s awful LOL!)? It’s a strange and wonderful thing. Ghost Busters is another film that comes to mind when I think of a movie’s quote-ability and its permeation into our everyday speech. Let that sink into your noggin. I’ve included some links at the end of this post for your further investigation of quotes and possibly little-known facts about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
OK, I want to move on to some other things I’ve noticed upon my recent multiple viewings. One of which is Beverly D’Angelo’s performance in this film. I think it is BRILLIANT. It is so subtle. The next time you watch this film, just watch Ellen Griswold’s face in every scene (that she’s in, obviously). A lot of her performance is easy to miss because of all the slap-stick insanity that’s going on around her. Just take notice of her facial expressions and head-movements (for lack of a better phrase). Just take my word for it and do it.
Another thing to look for is Johnny Galecki’s performance. Russ is quite the spunky teenager in this film. It almost kind-of annoys me. I mean I guess that was the part he was hired to play. A kid dragged along as a side-kick in a series of misadventures with his tarded father. And I’m a fan of Galecki in general. His work on Big Bang is awesome. But something makes me really dislike him in this film. It’s a good thing I’m not bitter about it or anything. I’m fairly certain you could turn it into a drinking game. Just take a shot every time you see him smirk and/or roll his eyes. You’d have alcohol poisoning 5 minutes in.
The last thing I will leave you with is this…
I’m really not sure why this scene is in the movie, but I love it. I imagine it’s just a way to poke fun at the horror genre that was getting pretty “Out There” and pop-culturish (not sure that’s a word , culture-esque, maybe?) at that point in the 80’s. The horror fan in me wants to believe it’s a nod to the horror genre, throwing Leather Face’s chainsaw into the hands of Jason Voorhees and turning him loose on suburbia and wreaking havoc on the yuppie Wall Street wannabe crowd. Maybe it’s just gas. I had tacos for lunch. But, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes, he stood there on Christmas Eve hating the Whos….?
So, hopefully I’ve thrown some thoughts into your minds about this movie you’d never had before. Maybe you’re like me and wonder if there’s deeper meaning behind the plot and script or maybe you wonder how silly putty picks stuff up from comic books. Either way I’ve had fun at your expense.
See below for a ton of links about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!