With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.”
There are so many different family Christmas movies out there to choose from, and many of your options are terrible. I know this because we bought "Santa Buddies" for our car ride up to grandma's house. Do NOT watch "Santa Buddies." In fact, do not watch any movie with "Buddies" in the title. You will be in for a world of talking dog-inflicted pain. And don't force "It's A Wonderful Life" on your kids, either. That's downright cruel. You've got two hours of boring olde tymey movie with a half-hour episode of "The Twilight Zone" tacked onto the end. It's intolerable if you're a modern child.
That leaves us with a handful of options. You can watch "A Christmas Story," which is fantastic. You can watch "Elf," which is good but will persuade your kids to put syrup on their pasta. Or you can try and imbue your children with a dose of 80s nostalgia and subject them to "Christmas Vacation," which isn't as good as the original "Vacation" but is MUCH better than "European Vacation" (I won't mention "Vegas Vacation"). Is this holiday classic, written by the legendary John Hughes, appropriate for your little ones? Let's see consider a few factors:
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Yes. "Christmas Vacation" falls squarely into the category of "80s movies you pray your children will love just as much as you did".
The Dead Parent Factor: None. The only serious moments in "Christmas Vacation" have to deal with Clark Griswold's economic concerns, which seem quaint in today's day and age. No bonus, Clark? AT LEAST YOU HAVE A JOBBY JOB.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: Can we talk about the pool scene? We should talk about the pool scene, because it's awesome. That's Nicollette Scorsese (daughter of Martin), stripping out of her bikini while standing on the diving board. I cannot begin to tell you how strong of an impression this scene made on me when I was a child. Scorsese would later get fully naked in "Boxing Helena." Seems like you should know that. Anyway, between this scene and Scorsese's first scene displaying her underwear at the store, NLCV has more sexual overtones than your standard Christmas movie. That's probably why people like it.
The Scare Factor: If you're scared of horrible relatives, deflating turkeys, and holiday-induced psychopathy, it's quite a scary film. But not anywhere near as scary as "Wonderful Life." That thing is terrifying.
The Violence Factor: Mostly of the pratfall variety, with Chevy Chase falling from pretty much every elevated platform you can think of. There's also the kidnapping at the end, with Cousin Eddie bringing Clark's boss to the Griswold house in an attempt to force the boos to give Clark his Christmas bonus. AND IT WORKS! Who knew kidnapping would pay off so handsomely? A sound lesson for your little ones.
Age Range: 9 and up.