Eggnog and cereal varnish - Christmas is coming
With fall passing by, we enter the consumer-driven frenzy that leads up to the holidays, and I personally couldn’t be happier. Gifts, chocolates and Kahlua laden lattes not withstanding I’m most excited because this is about the time of year I bust out my favourite Christmas films. One flick stands head and shoulders above the rest in my personal opinion as Christmas Vacation has become more vital to my holiday cheer than many of my actual relatives. Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold will forever be one of my favourite characters, but especially in this story of a holiday gone wrong despite best intentions. I literally don’t consider it Christmas until I have viewed this film with an eggnog filled Morty the Moose mug in hand at least twice. The film itself is storytelling genius despite being considered largely a silly holiday comedy. The balance of heart, comedy and relatable scenarios that this film dishes out is truly a lost art. A recent trip to Due Date reminded me that although we have some amazingly funny people working in films today, they really can’t be mentioned in the same breath as the late 80’s wizards like Chase, Candy, Martin, Short, Ackroyd, Murphy, etc. From fumbling with exterior lighting to tolerating obnoxious relatives, Vacation hits on all cylinders. The attention to detail is really quite astounding, going so far as to sneak in tidbits such as youngsters having to loan their beds to aging relatives, and unflinching fathers with their quests to find the greatest tree ever no matter how misguided the search becomes. Who hasn’t tried their best to orchestrate a flawless Christmas while enduring all manner of roadblocks along the way? The botched turkey, the Christmas lights, and the goofy tree – it’s all there. Best of all, there is the relative nobody wants to be there. In this case it comes in the form of Randy Quaid’s Cousin Eddie. All of this time I thought he was a brilliant character actor playing a conspiracy dispensing, nomadic, hemorrhoid, it turns out he was method acting as his recent headline making antics would suggest. Welcome to Canada Randy. Bringing the RV septic overflow back as the propulsion to a beaten Santa and sleigh ornament is truly a landmark moment in comedy. That scene alone demonstrates a dash of gross-out humour from the earlier scene, action, comedy and of course the culmination of the holiday as Santa streaks through the night sky much to the underprivileged kids’ delight.
A comedy aiming for the same finite level of balance today would undoubtedly resemble the septic overflow and little else. This is of course due in large part to John Hughes having passed on leaving behind a legacy of great holiday films. “But he was all 80’s cheese,” you say. Well, toss on Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and Planes, Trains and Automobiles and just try to tell me you aren’t at least a little bit warmer inside after.