My Christmas is filled with ritual, as I guess most people's are. Part of that ritual is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, about which I have nothing but good things to say. This should be part of your Holiday season too, because despite it not seeming like it all the way through, the film as a whole is just so thoroughly festive, cheery and good-hearted.
It opens with a great set-piece, Clark taking his family out in the "front-wheel drive sleigh" to dig their Christmas tree out of the snow-covered ground. He's a desperate loser, but you have to love the guy, working his butt off to give his extended family the perfect Christmas. (That's the difference in this Vacation movie, by the way - the Griswolds don't go anywhere, their folks come to them).
So the shenanigans finding a tree set the pattern for a season of chaos, fighting in-laws, squirrels, stupid relatives, huge dogs, snooty neighbours and collapsing turkeys. And as if that wasn't stress enough for poor Clark, he's waiting for his Christmas bonus to come through to cover a cheque he's already written.
The script brims with festive jollity, enthusing the audience with Clark's excitement for the holidays. Stand out moments include the welcome (and hilarious) return of Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie, the uber-hick sponger with a trailer-full of weirdo kids and rubber sheets, and Mae Questel's appearance as Aunt Bethany. She used to voice Betty Boo, and plays the crazy old woman to perfection.
See this movie. Get it on video. I normally watch it the first time on a miserable October Sunday, when I start to think properly about Christmas. Nothing can replace this movie as the one thing guaranteed to get me looking forward to late December. Fabulous stuff, and as festive for me as tinsel and carols. Cuddle up with this one.