Stressful holiday season? Watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

The Two Gay Geeks and our Staff are taking a much needed break from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, but we still wanted to have content for you to read during that time. As such we got busy and watched all of our favorite holiday videos. Some are classics and others are off-beat and loosely associated with the holidays. We hope you enjoy our offerings and that you holiday season is safe, sane, and satisfying.

 

When we think of the Christmas holidays we automatically think of the magical, wonderful times where everyone is happy. There are no family fights, no one is unhappy or disappointed with their presents, and the Christmas meal goes down as probably the best and most wonderful dinner for that year. Then reality sinks in and our own lives resemble nothing like we imagine it to be. It’s this reality that made the people at National Lampoon make their Christmas Vacation movie.

It’s quite simple. Clark Griswold wants to have the best Christmas ever, with the best present ever for the family, have the best-decorated house, and have the entire family over for a festive and joyous Yuletide season. It doesn’t happen. As I said, it’s quite simple.

National Lampoon had already carved out their Vacation movie with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back in 1983, which was a huge success for all parties involved. It only seemed natural that someone with National Lampoon had a bad Christmas thus giving birth to arguably one of the funniest Christmas movies ever made. Chevy Chase was born to play Clark Griswold. Chase had already proven himself to be the klutzy character during that first season on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and here he gets to capitalize on that same brand of humor making for a strong slapstick type of comedy. However he still gets to bring something genuine as Griswold. The character may be a complete dork, but he’s a nice and loveable dork with a huge heart. Now we have a character with layers, which helps to give this movie some resonance. One scene has him watching old home movies (with a stunning performance of “The Spirit of Christmas” by Ray Charles being played in the background), and the fact that Chase convincingly shows that duality between being a clumsy idiot as well as the kind, sensitive idiot, makes the scene absolutely beautiful.

However the magic doesn’t stop with Chevy Chase, as Beverly D’Angelo also returns and she continues to show that she too is quite adept at the comedy. She is second banana to Chase’s antics, but she never lets herself be overshadowed by him. However, if anyone were to steal this movie it might be Randy Quaid as his wife’s cousin Eddie. Only Quaid can play a role so completely over the top with its absurdity, and yet he never fully steals from Chase. Whether it’s because Quaid decided to reel it in or if it was just the strength of Chase’s performance is anyone’s guess. In any case, Quaid’s presence is just the right sprinkle of stupid humor (and I mean stupid in only the best of ways) that it helps flesh out the comedy and possibly even makes it more appealing to a wider audience.

Lastly there are two smaller roles that are unbelievably juicy, those being Uncle Lewis played by William Hickley and Aunt Bethany played by Mae Questel (who voiced Betty Boop). Hickley plays Lewis with his trademark delivery dripping with insults and sarcasm. Then play that opposite Questel’s completely forgetful Bethany and you end up with basically the perfect casting for this type of movie. Oh, but let’s not forget just the insane physical comedy itself! From shooting icicles into neighbor’s windows, followed by mad squirrels flying out of trees, and this movie becomes a pure comedic free-for-all!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation may have been released at a time where audiences weren’t quite so cynical. It may have been from a more “innocent” time period, but something that can’t be disputed is that with everything that poor Griswold has to endure, between arguing family members, Christmas lights that don’t work on command, a dried out Christmas Tree, and an electrified cat (I still cringe AND laugh at that scene), this movie provides probably some of the healthiest laughs that can erase away any and all stressful situations that we may be trying to deal with ourselves, and it can remind us that no matter how bad things might get for us, odds are that it won’t be as bad as what Clark Griswold is dealing with during his Christmas Vacation.


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