This family film is one that many consider a classic as the Lampoon’s franchise had brought out in 1989. Grand Valley’s Kirkhof Center screened this showing on December 6th and I chose to follow this assignment on the National Lampoons Christmas vacation because, I know that growing up in my household this was something that resided with me. Every year at home my family will watch this film or another in relation and I knew that I could sit with a various group of students to watch this with. I sat around a few others that had decided to watch this film as well and I spoke with one student that had never seen the movie before watching it screen in Kirkhof. I asked her if she had seen any other Lampoon movie and she answered saying that she never really watched any Christmas movie but this year she wanted to give the holiday movies a try. I like that the movie keeps a humorous though realistic view on a middle-class Caucasian family. The Lampoon’s Vacation film was initially a comedic magazine that for many years has remained one of the most popular Christmas movies ever made.
The movies introduction truly grabs the audience’s attention because the movie begins animated as “Santa delivers the gifts to children’s houses”. In quotes because it is a lot of the children’s fantasy to get a representation of what Santa Claus does when he is delivering presents. The director of this film does a great job of getting that attention they want from an audience because it is a movie that was filmed with real actors though they fill in the first three minutes with animation. To form more thought around this scene it is interesting to notice that Clark Griswald (the father/husband) is supposed to be Santa Claus in the animation portion of the film. This is seen because Clark Griswald is a man that is very clumsy and catches himself in a lot of various quirky situations. We as the audience take his mistakes throughout the film as a laughing matter because we see a man who is supposed to be the average family man that protects his family instead getting himself stuck in messy situations. I think that this movie does a great job of reaching out to all age groups and grabbing the attention of not only young people but older people as well because the adults seeing this may be able to relate a lot of what happens in this film to any trips they’ve taken. Beyond the comedy in this film, the movie targets families and they want them to see that no family is perfect and that every family has its screwups. Every time the Griswald family catches themselves in incidents we notice that there are a lot of quicker shots and more close ups to catch that action though to also see the expressions of everyone’s faces when something crazy occurs.
In a way the movie identifies problems within the usual Caucasian four people family and you feel not only a good feeling from the family’s obstacles, but you see a true moral that not all families are perfect and that every family has their problems no matter what it may be. In a scene where Clark is at work there is a group of businessmen that walks towards him and his boss hassle’s him about a new cereal garnish idea that he likes and wants him to show off though Clark mentions a Christmas card that he got and thanks him for it. His boss seems confused and looks to his right to a member of his entourage that tells him “It was a corporate card sir”. This is a good representation of the usual workplace. There is an unbalanced use of power to where the head boss puts their staff on a level of feeling belittled and for them it is as if they are royalty and hierarchy. Of course, them all being white middle-aged businessmen there is comedy to see these men follow each other leaving the room in a line as if they are all clones of one another.
Throughout the film paying attention to scenes you can see that before something bad or absurd takes place the there is a montage that shows each family member and what they are doing before something takes place. The director wants their audience to focus on specific scenes in the movie that show an importance to the film’s entirety. In a scene we see the camera showing the television showing a holiday parade and the host says, “these gusty winds appear to be playing havoc with the giant Nutcracker float. With this one I can’t even see the nuts they must have blown away”. This quote kind of represents the nutty personality of Griswald’s as at the same time the Clark is hanging Christmas decorations and begins to struggle to complete the tasks of hanging lights. In a clearer sense this family has gone nuts. The audience is also introduced to the family’s neighbors as we see being a perfect couple with little to no worries as they mock Clark though because of his actions we see that he starts to bring out the true feelings in each other as they now and then share arguments with each other.
The audience’s reactions toward the film remains quiet though there were a couple of laughs now and then. I feel that the main point to seeing this film and seeing it traditionally around the holiday season is because this is a family that a lot of people wish they had. A family that brings laughter and constant entertainment. The film has a lot of lighter color because it is a lighter hearted film that also has lots of uplifting music. The music in my opinion is what makes the movie. The music fits well with the reactions of the Characters. When we see Clark plug in the lights from the decorations the song “Halleluiah” plays, and the song grows louder and louder the more Clark’s smile gets bigger. The Christmas tree lighting and the decoration lighting for the house seem to be the most important parts because of the wide shots used in this film that show how happy the family become from the illumination of their home. It shows that they are seeing their Christmas going in a brighter direction then when they first began their festivities. This is the mentality we figure the family has even though as the audience we know that they will continue to face many obstacles. My reaction towards the film remains light-hearted as the film does a great job of giving a families story to making a Christmas worth remembering.
Director Jeremiah S. Chechik of this film inputs many close shots which can be seen in many other films that he has done such as The Head Office that came out four years before the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The director has won worst movie of the year for his film Avengers in 1998 though The National Lampoons Christmas Vacation made a revenue of $71.30 million which put the title as one of Chechik’s best films.