***/**** Image A Sound A- Commentary B
starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Miriam Flynn
written by John Hughes
directed by Jeremiah Chechik
Updated to correct an embarrassing blunder on 12/28/2022.-Ed.
by Bill Chambers After turning in a subpar first draft of National Lampoon's European Vacation and ghosting the production thereafter, John Hughes made an unexpected return to the franchise by writing and producing National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, loosely basing his screenplay, like that of the first ...Vacation, on one of his short stories for NATIONAL LAMPOON magazine. Both "Vacation '58" and "Christmas '59" are written as a childhood reminiscence and get their humour from the discordant pairing of morbid memories and misty-eyed prose. (Think Jean Shepherd in charge of the police blotter.) There is no Clark Griswold per se in these stories, only a hazy father figure coming unglued. As a result, Hughes butted heads with director Harold Ramis on the original, since Ramis was making a Chevy Chase vehicle, not a coming-of-age flick. By Christmas Vacation, Hughes was at a different place in his personal and professional lives, raising children and turning mogul, and the film finds him identifying with the patriarch almost to the exclusion of the kid characters. His screenplay, in fact, reclaims Clark from Amy Heckerling's aimless and conceptually fuzzy European Vacation, seizing on the pressure cooker of the holiday season as a poignant trigger for Clark's compulsive need to contrive Kodak, nay, Hallmark moments.