NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION Wednesday 30 November, 2011

How did we forget that Chevy Chase is very funny?

I remember repeatedly watching National Lampoon’s Vacation on a taped-from-the-TV VHS. This was in my pre-teen childhood. I suspect most of the jokes didn’t make that much sense to me at the time but I loved them all the same. This would have been around the same time that Bill Murray (who’s brother actually features in this film) became a life-long favourite. Chevy Chase’s career has followed a similar arc to Mr Murray’s except that Chevy never came back. As I watched this film I found myself wondering why that is because he is very funny.

I was almost dreading watching this film because I had feared it would do a Lucas-esque re-writing of childhood memories. I am sure you all know the feeling where somebody takes something you were fond of as a child and then shows it to you again in adult life only this time they’ve made it turn to shit. In actuality I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed this just as much as I would have when I was ten years old. We can extrapolate that either this is timeless comedy or that I am suffering from arrested development. Let’s assume it’s the latter and swiftly move on.

This film follows the Griswald family as they celebrate a big family christmas. Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) are played by the same actors but the kids are now played by (a very young) Juliette Lewis and (an even younger) Johnny Galecki (the guy from The Big Bang Theory).

Obviously, as this is a Griswald christmas, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. I found these mishaps very funny but I’m not going to pretend it’s sophisticated humour because it’s not. At one point a fireball is created by igniting gas from the sewer. Which, if you think about it, is the same as setting fire to a communal fart. It’s not very clever but it is funny.

If you go into this film with low expectations you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised. If you don’t like slapstick humour you’re going to hate it. If anybody knows how we can get Chevy Chase to have a Bill Murray style renaissance please put that knowledge into action.

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