What is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, for those of you who don’t know it, is a Christmas-themed comedy movie that was released in 1989. It is written by John Hughes, directed by Jeremiah Chechik and is part of a series of movies known as the ‘Vacation’ movies. Indeed, it is the third of the series and is incredibly popular.
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The principal actors involved are Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Chew Chase, Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki. It quickly became a ‘Christmas classic’ and even inspired its own sequel (even though it is a sequel itself!) – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1) will always be the favorite however and believe it or not, it is still being released on new forms of playback. For example, in 2015 it was published as a steel book Bly-way.
A Classic Christmas Movie!
If you are into Christmas movies, then you will surely love National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. There are many great Christmas movies out there: Home Alone, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, the list could go on and on and on. However, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation certainly deserves to join these movies. In many ways, it could be said that it is a cult classic.
Based on the Popular Short Story, “Christmas ’59”
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was originally based on a short story by the writer John Hughes called “Christmas ’59”. Unlike many Christmas classics that are based on much older works (Muppet Christmas Carol springs to mind here – based on Charles Dickens Victorian work ‘A Christmas Carol’) Christmas 59 was only published in 1980, appearing in the December issue of the National Lampoon magazine. The story went down so well that Hughes was begged to write another, but he turned this down at first. It was the perfect inspiration for the film, however, and so it was taken on, albeit nearly a decade later. If you are into movies that are based on stories that were originally published elsewhere, then you are sure to enjoy National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Wonderfully Catchy Music
You will also enjoy this film if you are a fan of Christmas themed music or music that appears in High School Musical. The score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, and the main feature is a song called “Christmas Vacation” that will surely get stuck in your head! This specific song was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and performed by Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers. The reason that it is linked to High School Musical is that it was performed in 2007 by the High School Musical star Monique Coleman when Disney made a Christmas album that year. Although there are lots of catchy and popular songs in the score, it was never actually released as a cd or lp, although certain cuts were released as a ’10th-anniversary limited edition’ disc in 1999. Only 7,000 of the 20,000 made were actually sold, however.
When the film came out it actually received very mixed reviews. Some were positive, and some were not so positive. This is generally to be expected however with a Christmas movie. Often, quite a few critics will look at these films at being a bit cringy and not worthy of the critical acclaim when they compare them to serious movies that are available to see at other times. On the review site Rotten Tomatoes, the movie receives an average rating of 6.2 out of 10, and 64% of reviewers have given it a positive or largely positive review. Many laughs tend to be a good way of rating it, and most reviewers seemed to see many audience members laughing. If you like a good laugh, therefore, you will probably like this film.
A Classic Family Movie
It is a particularly good movie to go and watch if you have a family and kids as it is something that everybody can enjoy no matter their age or background. Some reviewers chose to compare it to previous Lampoon films and therefore perhaps took a slightly more negative view of the film. Depending on your view of previous Lampoon movies, or whether you are looking at the movie by itself, this is likely to affect how you view it and whether you will enjoy it or not. It is a good idea to watch a movie without comparing it to either previous movies if it is part of a series or to the original book or story that it is based on. If you do this, nine times out of ten you will be disappointed.
Back to the ’80s
If you are a fan of movies from the eighties, then you will probably have a bit of a soft spot for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In 1989, the year that the movie was released, there were actually only two Christmas themed films out for fans to see which might have helped its popularity at the time. It certainly made it more memorable which means that it has become nostalgic. If you enjoy a bit of Christmas nostalgia, then you will likely enjoy the movie.
Links with It’s a Wonderful Life
If you like the other Christmas classic movie ifs a Wonderful Life, then you might also just like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This is due to a little-known fact. Not many people know this, but the assistant director of Christmas Vacation was Frank Capra III who was the grandson of Frank Capra, director of It’s a Wonderful Life. This is a rather tenuous link, but it is always nice to see family links shifting their way and keeping their way within the movie industry.
The cast of Christmas Vacation is pretty impressive which will surely add to your enjoyment of the movie. Three years after this movie was released Juliette Lewis went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Cape Fear. With E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts and Diane Ladd in the cast, it really adds to the special nature of this production.
You’ll be Laughing Out Loud!
Perhaps the only downside of this movie is that you won’t hear the classic ‘holiday road’ track, which is replaced by the ‘Christmas Vacation’ song. Nonetheless, it is highly unlikely that you won’t find this Christmas classic movie absolutely fantastic if it is the first time that you have come across it. You will most likely be laughing out loud and want to watch it every year afterward.