‘On The Second Day of Christmas, My True Love Sent To Me…National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ (1989)
The National Lampoon Vacation flicks were some of the most popular examples of Saturday Night Live’s Hollywood crossover in the early ‘80s, when the writers and comedians of SNL and their pals started to dominate the film charts with the likes of Caddyshack, The Blues Brothers and Stripes. Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswald became a modern icon, turning the classic stoic 1950s Eisenhower-era American father into a hapless, well-meaning imbecile, capable of wreaking nothing but havoc.
The third Vacation film is probably the best of all, and makes this list because Clark’s sincere desire to create the happiest Christmas ever for his entire family is so sincere and well-meant, that we are on his side from the get-go. Director Jeremiah Chechik (who went on to jettison any collateral goodwill by making the Diabolique remake and The Avengers) perfectly captures the agonising hell that comes exclusively with a houseful of too many relatives.
Its status has blossomed over the years because it is still genuinely, neverendingly funny. The attic-ladder into Chevy Chase’s face is hilarious every single time, as is Randy Quaid’s tight white V-neck sweater. Returning as Eddie, Clark’s hick brother-in-law, Quaid walks away with the film and repeated viewings have turned most of his lines into old friends, my own favourite being: ‘You know that metal plate in my head? I had to have it replaced, ‘cause every time Catherine revved up the microwave I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for a half hour or so.’