On The Second Day of Christmas…

On the Second Day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Two Marty Moose Mugs… 

I was wandering the aisles of HMV with my Granny Emily and she hadn’t exactly said she was going to get me a VHS (that dates this story a little) but I had been thinking to myself “If I found one I wanted and pleaded enough, then maybe she would get me it…“. So eventually I found this video tape called “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation“, and I can vividly remember the front cover that highly amused a ten-year-old-me that included an image of Chevy Chase getting electrocuted by Christmas lights.

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So I put on my puppy dog eyes and sidled up to Granny, and being the wonderfully loving and generous woman she was she bought me the videotape. We got the bus back home, made sandwiches and sat and watched the film. I can’t remember if it was even around Christmas time or not but I do remember Granny and I laughing throughout this entire film.

Christmas Vacation” tells the story of the Griswold family, headed by Clark and Ellen (played by Chevy Chase and the wonderfully mesmerising Beverly D’Angelo) trying to get through a family Christmas together. What is great about this film is it captures several significant moments that happen in every family’s life as they prepare for Christmas… Getting a tree… Preparing the dinner… Hiding presents… Making room for extra relatives…

The film itself is outlandish and completely over the top, but it is grounded in reality and that’s it’s appeal. You can relate to so much of it. You can sympathise with the son who’s task it will be for the next five hours to untangle the twinkle lights. You know the struggle of the teenage daughter who has to give up her room for her grandparents. You remember being sat at the kid’s table which was just a plank of wood attached to the main table…

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I had no idea when I first watched this film that it was part of the iconic series of Vacation films, and to give this film its due it is a stand-alone film. You needn’t have seen the other films to understand this one, it makes no difference and out of the entire series of Griswold adventures this one is the most heartwarming and classic.

The soundtrack to this film is also great and I have downloaded a few tracks to add to my Christmas playlist. From the main theme sung by Mavis Staples to Angelo Badalamenti’s orchestral score it all works perfectly to put you in the festive mood.

There are many great set pieces throughout this movie – the opening gag with one of the greatest car stunts ever caught on camera, the over-cooked turkey gag, the fried pussycat gag and of course the immortal “shitter was full” gag. Just recently I sat at work with a workmate and we quoted about 80% of the film line for line because it is that iconic!

Performances: 7/10 – Chevy and Bev are great!
Atmosphere: 9/10 – The epitome of family Christmas.
Joy: 10/10 – Pure hilarity from start to finish.
Sadness: 2/10 – Not many tears shed here, unless you think electrocuting cats is sad…
Christmassy Feeling: 10/10

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