National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Okay, last blogpost for Christmas and I’m not going for It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf, Scrooge, Scrooged or Miracle on 34th Street. No, no…I’m going for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase.

Why would I turn down Jimmy Stewart for Chevy Chase? Well, this seems a lot more realistic about Christmas and the holidays than Frank Capra’s yuletide opus. This is all about rarely seen relatives, elderly relatives on their last legs and Christmas lights that don’t work.

The film is filled with corking lines, laugh out loud moments and a dog being sick under the table while the family eat Christmas dinner (wouldn’t be out of place in a Ken Loach film or even a Luis Bunuel dinner party).

There’s Beverly D’Angelo also, who is one for the Dad’s and a pre-crazy Randy Quaid as Uncle Eddie (not sure if he is pre-crazy to be honest). Like a lot of John Hughes scripts the kids seem more middle aged than the parents.

The great thing about this and National Lampoon’s Vacation is how close the Chevy Chase character is to out and out madness. It’s bubbling under the surface, the pressure to be a great Dad. The pressure to make a memorable Christmas. Let’s face it, Clark W Griswold is insane, a kindred spirit with many a serial killer. Clark is one step away from slaughtering the lot of them and eloping with the Macy’s check out girl and making a run for the border in Eddie’s RV (make a note of that one Lyne, I’ll pitch it the next time I’m in LA).

So, this is my Christmas must see movie. Thanks God for Channel 5.

So, 51 films to go…

Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.