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Hip-Hip-Hooray for 'Christmas Vacation

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It was 1989 when arguably the best (definitely the funniest) Christmas movie of all-time was released. Crazy thing: it's actually the third movie in a series. Yes, I'm talking about National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation", starring Chevy Chase as America's family man Clark W. Griswold.

Based on the short story "Christmas '59" by John Hughes, "Christmas Vacation" tells the story of the Griswold family during Christmas break and Clark's obsession to deliver the greatest Christmas of all. Now this isn't the first time Clark has gone overboard to give his family a good time. In "Vacation" he took his family cross-country to Walley World and in "European Vacation" he, well, that's pretty self-explanatory. But this time around, it's Christmas time in Chicago for the Griswolds.

"Seeing is believing. There are 25,000 lights on the roof. An exploding turkey on the dining room table. A SWAT team taking siege outside. A festive supporting cast (including Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Juliette Lewis, William Hickey and more). And a John Hughes script full of wit, heart and sheer goofiness. Yule love it!"

The movie really hits the ground running, picking up with the family (Clark, Ellen, Rusty and Audrey) out to pick out the "perfect family Christmas tree". And naturally, the one Clark finally picks is a monstrous evergreen full of sap. The scene is capped with Rusty saying, "This won't even fit in our yard." And Clark replies, "It's not going in our yard, Russ -- it's going in our living room."

Things start to spiral out of control when the entire family shows up for the holidays, even a surprise visit from Cousin Eddie and his family. But this isn't going to deter Clark from delivering, against all odds. And as a surprise gift for his family, he plans to put in an in-ground swimming pool as soon as the ground thaws. He even put a $7,500 deposit on it, one that depends on his annual bonus from work, which may or may not ever arrive.

In true National Lampoon's fashion, things are taken to the extremes when seemingly everything and anything is threatening to put a stop to his plans. Through several series of unfortunate events, Clark is forced to get a new tree at the last minute, one he actually cuts from his front yard. It's a beautiful tree with just one problem: it's inhabited by a squirrel.

"Christmas Vacation" is a holiday treat that truly is fun for the whole family. Unlike the original "Vacation", which was rated R, this one is PG-13. And it work (although an R-rated version could be a lot of fun).

For me, this film is a Christmas tradition. Hell, even on Christmas day a local radio station here in Indianapolis reads the "Christmas Vacation" screenplay in its entirety (94.7 FM, The Bob & Tom Show).

"Yule love it!"

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