Shiny Shelf


SHINY ADVENT: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

By Stephen Lavington on 11 December 2006

There are some lifestyle choices which can’t be justified by any objective standard, and a full-on enthusiasm for Chevy Chase is one of those. That said, the Christmas instalment of Chase’s universally reviled Vacation movies stands head and shoulders above the scrum of festive-themed comedies (Home Alone, The Santa Clause, Surviving Christmas etc, etc).

Fact is, the misadventures of Clerk Griswold and his clan of ne’er-do-wells are a true guilty pleasure of the distinctly lowbrow variety. It’s two hours or so of lame gags about ill-cooked turkeys, unwanted visitors, over-the-top festive lights, psychotic squirrels and elderly relatives. Nonetheless it fits with the whole dire sentimentality of the season. Christmas is not a time for biting satire or cutting edge humour, but a time for fart-jokes and Chevy Chase’s sub-Bill Murray, Saturday Night Live comedy stylings.

Yes, it’s lowbrow but it also squeezes a good few chuckles out of a bunch of eminently predictable situations in a cosily familiar manner. It’s the sort of thing that’s pretty much always screened at some point in the run up to Christmas and makes for the sort of reliable quasi-ritualistic experience that marks this time of year – nightmarish shopping trip, check; Queen’s speech, check; mandatory time with family, check; National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, check. Mention of this film is not so much a recommendation as recognition of an inevitability – come on, you know you want to see that cat get electrocuted again.


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By Stephen Lavington




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