National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
I wanted to give this one five stars. I saw it in theaters during its original run. It’s a holiday tradition. A must-watch every Christmas. Except, it isn’t. I’ve only watched it two times in the last eight years. While I love it, Christmas Vacation is not aging well.
Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold, an every-man attempting to host the perfect family Christmas, with disastrous results.
John Hughes’s script strings together multiple skits, some riotous, some schmaltzy. I love how he focuses on the family dynamics and sidesteps any religious notions, even having the senile aunt recite “The Pledge of Allegiance” instead of grace.
Perhaps it’s natural my take on the film should evolve. I came to Christmas Vacation as a thirteen-year-old child, now I’m a forty-four-year-old father-of-two myself. It’s still an entertaining film, just less resonant.
That said, this viewing revealed a gag I’d never caught. Chase and Quaid are shopping in Wal-Mart, Chase pushing the cart and trying to broach an uncomfortable topic with Quaid. As they walk and talk, Quaid piles dog food into the cart. In the midst of this, Chase grabs a package of light bulbs and places them in the cart only for Quaid to crush them a heartbeat later by hefting an enormous bag of dog food atop them. Neither man acknowledges the gag, and I’d always been too focused on the dialogue to catch it.
On Blu-ray, the 25th Anniversary scan proves far superior to the 2006 version. Besides improved audio and video, the tighter framing better hides the saucer sled guide-wires.