Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

(National Lampoon's) Christmas Vacation (1989)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

(National Lampoon's) Christmas Vacation (1989)

In director Jeremiah S. Chechik's slapstick-filled comedy with outrageous sight gags:

  • the trek to the country on a Saturday to find the most perfect X-mas tree, the Griswold Family Christmas Tree, by family head Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) ("We're kicking off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols") - he was accompanied by his reluctant family members: wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis), and son Russ "Rusty" (Johnny Galecki) - during the drive, they played chicken with a small redneck-driven truck, and then with a gigantic 18-wheeler logging vehicle (Ellen: "Clark! We're stuck under a truck!" - she began to recite a modified version of the Lord's Prayer)
  • in knee-deep snow after trudging into a snowy forest to cut down an oversized Christmas tree for their living room, Clark informed his family: ("The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the thpirit of the Griswold family Chrithmath"); the excitement diminished when Rusty asked: "Dad, did you bring a saw?"
Sighting X-Mas Tree:
"There it is!"
Trek to Cut Down
Gigantic Christmas Tree
  • back home, Clark appeared in his garage, looking like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer, with a chain-saw used to resize the tree; after his neighbor Todd Chester (Nicholas Guest), with his wife Margo (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) looked over and asked: "Hey, Griswold! Where do you think you're gonna put a tree that big?" - he rebuked them: "Bend over and I'll show ya" - inferring that he was speaking to Margo
  • the invitation to many in-laws to join them (Ellen's parents, Clark's own parents Nora (Diane Ladd) and Clark Sr. (John Randolph), and his Uncle Lewis (William Hickey) and senile Aunt Bethany (Mae Questel)), including crazy Kansas redneck Cousin Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid)
  • the sequence of sex-crazed Clark's visit to the mall, where he nervously ogled busty lingerie clerk Mary (Nicolette Scorsese) at the display counter, who asked: "Can I show you something?" - with his reply about how cold it was: "Yes, yes it is, it's a bit nipply out. I mean nippy out, ha, ha, ha. What did I say, nipple? Huh, there is a nip in the air, though"; she also demonstrated how her high-cut thong underwear didn't leave a line, as Clark bent over to inspect her more closely: "These are cut really high on the hip. Look, I'm wearing something similar. See? You can't see the line"
  • the over-the-top Christmas lights display on the exterior of the house (Clark described earlier how excessive his light display had become: "250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights"); the first attempt to light everything was a total disaster
  • and the moment the lights were finally turned on, requiring auxiliary power from the utility company, and the electrocution of the cat
The Failed Christmas Tree Lighting
  • the sequence of cousin Eddie explaining how his Rottweiler dog named Snots had a sinus condition, and was also sex-crazed: "You pet him on the belly and he'll love you till the day you die...He's cute, ain't he? Only problem is, he's got a little bit of Mississippi leg hound in him. If the mood catches him right, he'll grab your leg and just go to town. You don't want him around if you're wearing short pants, if you know what I mean. A word of warning, though. If he does lay into ya, it's best to just let him finish"
  • the scene in which Clark had waxed his round silver sled with a revolutionary grease (Clark: "A new non-caloric, silicon-based kitchen lubricant my company's been working on. It creates a surface 500 times more slippery than cooking oil. We'll fly down the hill with this stuff"), although Eddie had encouraged him not to: ("Don't go puttin' none of that stuff on my sled, Clark. You know that metal plate in my head?... I had to have it replaced, because every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I'd piss in my pants and forget who I was for a half hour or so. So over at the VA, they had to replace it with a plastic one. It ain't as strong, so, I don't know if I oughta go sailin' down no hill with nothin' between the ground and my brain but a piece of government plastic") - and Clark's unexpected streak of fire in the snow after announcing: "Nothin' to worry about, Eddie. Going for a new amateur recreational saucer sled land speed record. Clark W. Griswold, Jr. Remember, don't try this at home, kids. I am a professional" - he careened down a hillside and into oncoming traffic before crashing in front of a Wal-Mart store
  • the scene of Eddie (in his bathrobe) dumping his RV trailer sewage into the street's storm drain (Eddie: "The shitter was full!") - a disaster waiting to happen (Clark: "He oughta know it's illegal. It's a storm sewer. If it fills with gas, I pity the person who lights a match within ten yards of it")
  • the traditional Christmas Eve turkey meal dinner preceded by 80 year-old Aunt Bethany's (Mae Questel) "Grace" (actually, the Pledge of Allegiance) and the cutting into the bone-dry bird: (Clark: "If this turkey tastes half as good as it looks, I think we're all in for a very big treat!" Eddie: "Save the neck for me, Clark")
  • Clark's angry rant about his Scrooge-like boss, Mr. Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray): ("I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-assed, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey s--t he is! Hallelujah! Holy S--t! Where's the Tylenol?")
  • a terrifying squirrel incident when the wild animal was set loose in the Griswold house, causing massive destruction, and ending up jumping onto the chest of neighbor Margo followed by Snots
  • Clark's determination to have a good old-fashioned Christmas celebration, after all the disasters: "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 f--kin' Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse"
  • Eddie's kidnapping of Mr. Shirley - (Clark had suggested it as a "last-minute gift-idea" and Eddie took him seriously); he was tied up with a big red bow on his chest; it was retaliation for Clark not receiving a cash bonus, but a one year membership in the Jelly-of-the-Month Club ("the gift that keeps on giving the whole year"); a SWAT team was summoned and they stormed the Griswold house, although Mr. Shirley changed his mind and reinstated Clark's bonus
  • two of the children saw a real shooting star and ran outside, and everyone followed them; it was interpreted as the 'Christmas Star' by a soppy and sentimental Clark: ("It's the Christmas star. And that's all that matters tonight. Not bonuses or gifts or turkeys or trees. See, kids, it means something different to everybody. Now I know what it means to me"); Uncle Lewis retorted: "That ain't the frigging Christmas star, Griz. It's the light on the sewage treatment plant"; a final disaster occurred when Uncle Lewis threw his lit match for his cigar down a storm drain, and the entire sewage system destructively exploded (after Eddie had dumped raw sewage down the drain)
  • the blast sent Clark's flaming Santa-sleigh and reindeer decoration across the sky in front of a full moon; as explosions rocked the neighborhood, Aunt Bethany led a sing along of the National Anthem ("And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air") as the film ended

18 Wheel Logging Truck

Clark as Chain-Saw Killer

Clark to Lingerie Clerk: "It's a bit nipply out"

Lingerie Clerk Showing Off 'No Underwear' Line

Eddie's Warning About His Dog Snots: "Just let him finish"

Waxed Sledding

Eddie Dumping RV Sewage Into Storm Drain

Grace Preceding Bone-Dry Turkey Meal

Clark's Rant About Boss Mr. Shirley

Squirrel Jumping Onto Neighbor's Chest

After Many Disasters, Clark's Statement: "...we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas..."

SWAT Team Attack

Clark's Sentimental Interpretation of Christmas Star

Clark's Santa Decorations Sent Sky-High


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