MOTW: Five Quotes from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
December 4th, 2013

MOTW: Five Quotes from "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"

During the Christmas season, many people like to revisit their favorite holiday flicks, and although films like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" are perfect for the sentimental at heart, films like "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" are required watching for anyone who wants to have a holiday laugh. In this iconic holiday film released in 1989, Chevy Chase plays Clark W. Griswold. Chase is supported by Beverly D'Angelo as his wife Ellen, Juliette Lewis as his daughter Audrey, and Johnny Galecki as his son Russ.

This film is the third movie in the Griswold family vacation series, and it starts out with laughs right from the beginning. Led by Clark, the family piles in the family station wagon to go pick out their Christmas tree. Unfortunately, Clark realizes he forgot his axe, and he makes his family pull the tree out of the ground by its roots in a silly scene. After tying the tree to the roof of their car, the family heads back home. On the way, they are met by their yuppie neighbors, the Chesters.

After Todd Chester asks Clark what he plans to do with a tree that big, Clark responds that Todd should bend over and he'll show him. When Todd responds that Clark has a lot of nerve, Clark says, "I wasn't talking to you" and looks at Todd's wife Margo. Although this was one of the film's funniest quotes, it doesn't adequately convey the problems that Clark Griswold has had with women in all the National Lampoon vacation movies.

His painfully hilarious and awkward encounters with women are best illustrated by Clark's exchange with a woman in the jewelry store. While shopping for his wife, Clark can't take his eyes off the well-endowed female clerk. He can't seem to unknot his tongue either, as illustrated by this classic bumbling quote: "Oh, I was just smelling - smiling. I was just blouse - browsing. I, uh, heh heh. Well, I guess it just wouldn't... Oh hee hee, it wouldn't be the Christmas shopping season if the stores were any less hooter than they - HOTTER than they are. Whew. It is warm in here, isn't it?"

To make matters even more complicated, both Clark and Ellen's parents arrive to spend Christmas with the family. Their constant bickering is uncomfortable for the Griswold clan, but it gives the writers the perfect chance to work in some funny holiday quotes. Ellen is the one who sums up the holidays best with the following quote: "I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery."

In a scene that has become emblematic of the film itself, Clark covers his house in Christmas lights. Unfortunately, he has wired them incorrectly, and after blazing briefly for a minute, they all go out. As the family stands momentarily in darkness, Clark hands the string of lights to his son, and he says the following funny line: "Unravel these. We need to check every bulb."

As he hands Russ a huge tangle of lights, Clark continues with the following bit of advice: "Oop. Little knot here, you can work on that."

As the family tries to salvage the lights, the Griswolds receive some surprise visitors. Ellen's cousin Catherine and her husband Eddie arrive in their RV with their two ragged children, Rocky and Ruby Sue. After Eddie explains to the family that he lost his home and has to live in the RV, Clark decides to buy presents for Rocky and Ruby Sue. Later, after Clark complains about not getting his Christmas bonus, Eddie decides to offer him a little help in return.

Eddie's idea is to kidnap Clark's boss, a move that ultimately brings the SWAT team into the Griswold family home. However, as a result of Eddie's actions, Clark's boss decides to pay Clark his bonus with a 20 percent increase over the previous year. Near the end of the film, a giant explosion is caused by a match and the sewage Eddie has been dumping out of his RV and into the storm drain. Although all of the scenes with Eddie are funny and full of great lines, Eddie's character is best described by the following quote he shared with his family: "They had to replace my metal plate with a plastic one. Every time Catherine would rev up the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour."

From electrical outages to being held at gunpoint by the SWAT team, the Griswold family Christmas is never boring, but everyone wants to leave at some point during the holiday. Clark's response to that idea is summed up by the following quote: "Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye."