National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Release: December 1, 1989 cvacation

I can finally say I am in the mother -F-in Christmas mood! Even with Montreal’s green December, I am in the holiday mood after watching this little pre-90’s gem! I used to watch Christmas Vacation every Christmas, along with A Charlie Brown Christmas. I think I might just have to start doing that again every year; as I do with The Godfather right up to the horse head in the lawyer’s bed scene.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the third installment in NL’s Vacation series. It stars a young Chevy Chase playing Clark W. Griswold Jr. in his quest for holiday bliss with his family. Though his intentions are pure, what he does usually ends up hitting him in the face. Literally.

Christmas Vacation is written by The Breakfast Club’s John Hughes. You know the guy who wrote: Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, Home Alone, Weird Science, Ferris Buller’s Day Off, and The Great Outdoors; just to name a few. At the directing helm is Montreal native Jeremiah S. Chechik. So you know this flick was born for greatness.

I have to say: THIS FILM IS EPIC. This jewel of the holidays is a prime example of what “family” comedies are missing today. It was wholesome but not corny. It was raunchy but not explicit. It was holiday but not politically correct.

I am truly flabbergasted over the fact that so many of my favorite television actors were in this flick. Playing Mrs. Griswold is Beverly D’Angelo. You know; Babs from Entourage. She still looking… Da-yumn. (Two syllables) A prepubescent Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory plays Rusty Griswold.

What Worked For This Film:

– The Pacing. I think I mention this in every review I write. The editing of a film is probably just as if not more important than the script. Because if a flick has a bad script it can be saved but some tricky editing. Christmas Vacation is a perfect example of how a comedy should be. Quick enough to make 90 something minutes feel good but slow enough that each gag is properly digested before you through something else at me. When Clark is stuck in the attic I had my hot chocolate with marshmallows come up my nose.

– Chevy. The Chase man was at his prime. Well come to think of it. He’s still at his prime. Just watch Community Just watch a DVD of Community to know what I mean. Although everyone else in this film is right on the money too.

– The score. Yep. Sometimes in a comedy the music can be it’s downfall. However, Jeremiah S. Chechik did an amazing job at keeping it on cue without drowning out the action. I also love the opening theme.

What Didn’t Work For This Film:

– The animated opening. I could have done without it. Adds nothing to the movie but minutes to the run time. Maybe they added it for Europeans to make sure they knew it was a Christmas themed motion picture.

The Lowdown:

If you’re searching through you vast collection of holiday films; this is definitely the one to pick. It will put you in the Christmas spirit faster than uncle John’s homemade eggnog. Chevy and the gang are all awesome in this light hearted, goofy spectacle that every Christmas celebrating, North American family can relate to.

Paranormal Activity 3

PA3It’s always smart to be weary of any horror film’s second sequel. With all the Saws and whatnot. However, Paranormal Activity 3 stands up pretty well, even on it’s own.

This time around it’s Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost at the directing helm of this flick. These guys directed the documentary Catfish They take the “surveillance camera” tactic to it’s OG roots with VHS and home-brew rigs.  This is another prequel to the 2007 film that started it all. Taking us all the way back to when Kristi and Katie are but little gals in 1988.

What worked in this film:

Little Kristi! (Jessica Tyler Brown) This kid has some acting CHOPS! I’m not too sure how old she is. That means IMDB and Wikipedia don’t have anything on her yet. But she can’t be more than 7 in this and she just blows the rest of the cast away. With the noted exception of Toby.

The continued lack of music. I know you’re saying “Duh, this is a hand-held docu-style horror film!” But it’s what kept me on the edge of my seat. I have a pretty large posterior so it a feat in itself.

The fact that the characters in the film never get concrete idea about what is going on leaves the viewer feeling their panic.

What didn’t work for this film:

The mom Julie. (Lauren Bittner) I know I’m just pulling at straws but She really got blown out of the water by a ginger-child-of-the-corn.

It really takes a while before this film gets going. I’d say the first 30 minutes feel much longer than they really need too. I had the time to finish my Ice Cap and contemplate getting a second. But just as those thoughts start, so does the movie’s true suspense and freaky I’m-not-going-to-stand-near-almost-open-doors-again-ness.

I wasn’t a fan of the first two films in the series, but I’m totally digging on this one and might have a hard time sleeping tonight.

Paranormal Activity gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

PS: Paramount is once again using social media to help promote the flick. For PA3, they’re using twitter with @TweetYourScream.