Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid
Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Running Time: 97 mins
Christmas Vacation is an American film and the third in the Vacation series. At Christmas time, Clark Griswold gets the entire family together at his house for the ultimate holiday celebration, however it all turns sour pretty quickly.
This is an easy-going festive comedy classic, and it’s undoubtedly got some good laughs throughout. With a performance by Chevy Chase as fun as it was in the first Vacation movie, you’ll definitely have a good time with this, but that doesn’t mean it’s as good as a comedy can be, owing to a poorly-executed story that feels much more episodic than it should be.
Before I get into that, however, let’s look at what makes this a good film, namely the comedy. Much like the first movie, it’s largely based around slapstick humour, and that makes it a very light and easy-going watch right the way through. What’s more is that there’s not much toilet or gross-out comedy in it either, meaning that the pleasure of the Christmas atmosphere can be retained.
Also, it subverts the Christmas comedy genre very well, by giving a cleverly contrary message. Whilst ironically ticking all the boxes of the most generic festive films, Christmas Vacation ultimately tells us that Christmas is actually mainly about arguing with your relatives and feeling disappointed and annoyed with your own life.
Of course, that’s all meant in a fun-loving way, and it never comes off as depressing as I just made it sound, but it’s still a very clever subversion of the genre, and one that I enjoyed a lot.
The issue with this film, particularly in comparison to the original Vacation, is that its story is very poorly structured. Rather than having a continuous narrative that actually gives you something besides the slapstick comedy (which can get a bit tiring) to care about, this feels much more like a collection of sketches strung together, with a very thin base plot to keep it all in the one film.
Obviously, the story isn’t the main thing in a comedy movie, and that’s why I think this is definitely a decent film, but I did also find myself repeatedly frustrated by the fact that what you’re watching isn’t a well thought-out story, but some ideas that people had at different times, and then managed to stick it all together at Christmas.
Overall, I’ll give Christmas Vacation a 6.8, because despite its lacklustre story, I definitely enjoyed the comedy for most of the time, as well as Chevy Chase’s again enjoyable performance and the clever subversion of the typical Christmas movie.