What is it?
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a silly Christmas movie following the Griswold family trying to make the best family Christmas possible without killing each other or the grandparents and in-laws. It’s a silly movie with lots of quips, funny situations, slap-stick humor, and even subtle humor. The man of the house, Clark Griswold, has always loved Christmas since he was a boy and wants to put together the best Christmas he can for his family and his kids. He is also holding out on telling his family about putting in a swimming pool until he gets his Christmas bonus.
When I first watched this movie, I got immediately sucked into its silliness. It quickly became a staple in our family’s household as a mandatory Christmas movie. This year it was the first Christmas movie we watched after Thanksgiving, symbolizing the coming of Christmas time. It’s a goofy movie that has a wholesome message at its core.
A lot of the best jokes in this movie are the ones that the characters never acknowledge. My favorite example is the scene where the grandparents are sleeping on the kid's bunk beds. On the top of the bunk bed, there is a poster of two turtles having sex. I never noticed that poster until after a few watches. It's this kind of subtlety that makes the movie stand out for me.
More recently, I learned that during the infamous "shitter was full" scene, Cousin Ed is wearing dress shoes while in his bathrobe. This is the tiniest detail that you'd never notice because the focus of this scene is a grown man smoking a cigar and dumping out the toilet into the sewers while wearing a bathrobe.
There’s even some subtle audio humor. For example, when Ed and Clark are out shopping and having a plot-driving conversation, Clark places a pack of lightbulbs in the card and Ed immediately crushes it with a big bag of dog food. It’s so subtle that Clark doesn’t even seem to notice it.
The writer’s use of subtle humor is so far above most other movies because they find a way to cram a joke into basically every single scene. There were many more I didn’t include, but those are the ones that stood out most to me.
A lot of these jokes and silly visuals will almost not be completely noticed on the 1st watch, making this the perfect Christmas movie. Each year, you’ll notice something new.
Relatable Family Situations
What makes this movie so unique and funny to me is that these situations are so damn relatable. There are so many scenarios and jokes that get made that I can immediately remember and relate to. You’ve got the grandparents that are a bit too invasive, overwhelmingly needy, and probably give a bit too much info about that mole on their armpit.
I’m not a father myself, but I imagine it’s a common goal for the father to make the best Christmas for his whole family, despite his frustrating outside family members who are losing their filter.
I relate to the struggle of helping my dad put up the Christmas lights. He gives you instructions that make sense to him but don’t make sense to you. You try anyway, but you know it won’t be the exact way he wants it to be.
I personally think this movie executes the relatable situations so well. They give these situations almost a feeling of a real life cartoon. Things are just so exaggerated, but still feel familiar.
Clark: “Tis the season to be merry.”
Mary: “Well that’s my name.”
Clark: “No shit.”
Margo: “Why is the carpet all wet, Todd?”
Todd: “I don’t know, Margo!”
Eddie: “Merry Christmas. Shitter was full!”
Clark: “If I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”
Eddie: “Why don’t you grab the rubber sheets and the gerbils?”