Over the years movie studios have competed to have a classic Christmas movie and, as you would expect, many of them have found success. Home Alone, Dying Hard is a Wonderful Life are some of the films that have managed to make it into the prestigious Hall of Christmas Classics. Another movie making its way into the acclaimed theater is National Lampoon ‘s Christmas Vacation. It was released in 1989 as the third addition to the National Lampoon’s Vacation film series. Although it received mixed reviews upon its release, it became a classic seen by millions over the Christmas season.
Christmas Vacation is the brainchild of John Hughes, king of comedies in the 80s and 90s. Some of the best comedies released during those times were his handicrafts, such as Home Alone 1-3, The Breakfast Club, Day of the baby, and many more. John Hughes originally wrote Christmas Vacation as a short story in National Lampoon magazine, but due to its popularity in the magazine, National Lampoon decided to adapt the story into a film. Production began on the film on March 27th , 1989 and it was released on December 1st , 1989.
The film received mixed reception after its release, and it still sits at 64% on review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes. Popular critic Roger Ebert gave it a 2 out of 4 rating. Despite the mixed reception, the film was a box office success, earning $71.3 million at the box office on a budget of $25 million. The film also sold a large number of home video release copies, from Blu-ray to special edition DVDs.
Clark Griswold, the family patriarch and protagonist of the story gets into the Christmas spirit by taking his wife Ellen and children – Audrey and Rusty in search of a Christmas tree.
As a comedy, the plot progression is based on a number of peculiarities, such as Clark’s insistence on a fun, old-fashioned family Christmas despite the arrival of his parents and his wife’s parents, causing a lot of tension in the House. Her determination to have a perfect Christmas despite the tension is frustrated by such efforts as covering the entire house in twinkling lights, which has caused a blackout in the town. The situation is further complicated when Ellen’s cousin arrives with her family and the year-end bonus he expects from his boss is replaced with a year of free membership at a “Jelly of the Month” club.
He lets out his frustration in an angry tirade, prompting Eddie, Ellen’s cousin’s husband, to kidnap Clark’s boss after he interprets some of the comments in his tirade literally. The police intervene and after an explanation, Clark is allowed to leave and his annual bonus is paid. The film ends with a Christmas celebration with the police and the whole family.
Christmas Vacation Cast and Crew: Where Are They Now?
Here is the cast list of Christmas Holidays and their current position in their respective careers.
Chevy Chase-Clark Griswold. Jr.
Chevy Chase was the Vacationfilms protagonist, Clark Grisworld Jr. Before starring in the Vacation series, he was a writer for the National Lampoon Radio Hour after he started writing comedies.
Like the Holiday series themselves, Chevy Chase had a successful 80s career before things took a turn for the worse. He directed three successive films nominated for the Razzie Award and participated in several projects that failed, including The Chevy Chase Show on Fox which was canceled after five weeks.
Despite all his failures, Chase earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994 and he is still an active actor in film and television.
Beverly D’Angelo – Ellen Griswold
Beverly D’Angelo was among the recurring faces in the holiday movie series. She has acted in more than 60 films since her acting career began in 1976 and her first screen appearance the same year. She has been nominated for several awards during her career, including a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award.
She has starred in films like The Gamblers, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, and Wakefield. On TV, she played Barbara Miller on the popular HBO show, Entourage and also starred in Family Guy, The Simpsons, Mommy, Cougar Town and a few others.
She is still an active actress in film and television. In 2018, she appeared in The Unicorn and landed guest appearances on Insatiable and Shooter. She is currently single and dated Al Pacino. She was married to Don Lorenzo Salvati. She also has two children.
Johnny Galecki – Russ Griswold
Before becoming the lovable Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory, he starred in comedies like Christmas Vacation as the son of Clark and Ellen Griswold. Before that he starred in films like Orderly Murder, Prancer and A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon
Since appearing in the Christmas Vacation movie which was his only appearance on the show, he has gone on to star in notable films like Hancock, On the Hour and Rings. Television is where Johnny Galecki made his name through the hit CBS show, The Big Bang Theory. He received several nominations for his portrayal in the role. Other shows he has appeared in include Entourage and Family Guy
Juliette Lewis – Audrey Griswold
Juliette Lewis is one of the most successful actresses to star in the National Lampoon franchise. Known for films like Old School, The Other Sister and Cape Fear, she has been nominated for some of the biggest awards in the film and television industry, such as the SAG Award, Academy Award and Golden Globe Award.
On TV, she has starred in shows like The Firm, Hysterical Blindness – A TV Movie and Stray Pines
Juliette is also a musician and led the rock band, Juliette and the Licks from 2004 to 2009. After the band broke up, she continued her role as a solo artist. She has a discography of five projects the last of which was released in 2017. She has managed to combine her music career with her acting career with several credits under her belt. She is due to appear in The Conners in 2018.
Randy Quaid – Cousin Eddie Johnson
Randy Quaid played Ellen’s cousin’s sketchy husband, Eddie Johnson. His hilarious mistake of kidnapping Clark’s boss is a major plot element in the film. However, before he landed the role and became part of Christmas movie lore, he starred in The Last Detail, for which he received three major nominations – the Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globes. He was also a member of Saturday Night Live and has starred in over 80 movies and TV shows, including numerous films in the Vacation franchise, including his own movie, Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Adventure
A highly awarded actor, Randy Quaid has set him apart as one of Hollywood’s finest actors. He is also the older brother of Dennis Quaid. One of his signature roles includes Lyndon Johnson in a 1987 drama LBJ: The Early Years. Besides film and television, he is also a theater actor.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Margo Chester
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the most legendary names in television history. She currently holds the award for best actor on television. Before starring in Christmas Vacation, she performed as a comedian on Saturday Night Live and starred in movies like Troll, Soul Man and Hannah and Her Sisters
Since Christmas Vacation, her career has had a meteoric rise to become one of television’s biggest talents. She has starred in Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Veep, all comedy shows that received rave reviews, especially Veep where she is an executive producer.
She battled breast cancer and is set to reprise her role as Selina Meyer on Veep in 2019. She is currently married to Brad Hall and the couple have two children.
Diane Ladd – Nora Griswold
Diane Ladd is one of the film’s great talents. During her career, she has been a director, producer and author. She has won several awards, including a BAFTA award and a Golden Globe; she was also nominated for several Oscars. Diane Ludd has starred in over 80 movies and TV shows.
She starred in movies like Route 66, Joy, Chinatown, Alice Doesn’t Live There Anymore. Before she starred in Christmas Vacation, she had 18 film credits to her name and went on to star in many more, earning Golden Globe and Oscar nominations as a result.
She has been married three times and has two children, including critically acclaimed actress Laura Dern. At 83, Diane is still an active actress currently playing on Chesapeake Shores as Nell O’Brien
John Randolph, who plays Clark’s father, Clark W. Griswold Snr; John Randolph died on February 24th , 2004.
Miriam Flynn played Catherine Johnson, Cody Burger played Rocky Johnson, Nicholas Guest, and Todd Chester, among others.