“If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow… It can happen every day, you’ve just got to want that feeling.”
– Bill Murray in SCROOGED
That’s right – it’s time to feel the moment and that holiday spirit thing. It’s time for SpoilerFreeReview’s 12 days of Christmas 2021 edition! We will be posting our favorite holiday experiences with 12 reviews and illustrations of movies, TV, and music. So sit back, enjoy some spiked eggnog, and welcome to SFR’s 12-days of Christmas 2021!🎅🏽
Growing up, my parents had different opinions on movies and TV. My mom loved horror movies, but dad could do without them. Dad loved goofy comedies, and mom could do without those. At the holidays, she put up with repeated viewings of HOME ALONE because she knew me and my nieces and nephew loved it. She never liked A CHRISTMAS STORY and in recent years, would say, “this is still on?!” even though she did enjoy the jokes about an era that came long before I was born.
Now, as I’d like to remember it, CHRISTMAS VACATION was the one film that brought us all together. I’m still not sure my mom truly enjoyed it, but she did enjoy watching it with me and my dad, who loved this film most of all in December. I remember buying the movie for my parents on VHS (cough, dating myself here) with the money I made babysitting, so we didn’t have to rely on premium cable that we never had. I think some of the appeal of this film to middle-aged men is that Clark Griswold is the uber-punched up version of what many men aspire to be at the holidays: Personally cut Christmas tree, put up ALL the holiday lights, has a terrible relative that drives them crazy, but in the end is able to have all the family over for a fun and wacky Christmas.
CHRISTMAS VACATION is the best of the VACATION films for me. It’s even more relatable than the original VACATION because while not everyone might take long road trips with their families, mostly everyone has had a family reunion of some sort – even those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Written by the late great John Hughes, the laughs come rapidly when Clark annoys his neighbors, and everyone else annoys Clark. It’s also a movie that pretty much the whole family can enjoy. There’s one f-bomb that the PG-13 rating allows, although it seems very tame in 2021.
I can’t help but wonder if younger audiences enjoy this film as much as those of us that grew up with it. When you’re a kid, there’s often that period of life when enjoying the same things as your parents do isn’t the cool way to be. This movie came out during that period for me, but I absolutely loved that we could enjoy this together. Even after I left for college, we’d still watch it together when I was home during break. After my dad passed away, our tradition faltered. I moved across the country and wasn’t able to spend every single Christmas with mom. I tried to get her to watch it a few times in recent years, and she reminisced about how we loved it as a family back in the 90s. Perhaps she enjoyed the fond memories more than the movie itself, but I’ll never know.
This will be my first Christmas without any parents, and it really sucks. There’s just no other way to put it. But I plan to have another CHRISTMAS VACATION viewing to cheer myself up and think of the amazing holidays I did get to spend with mom & dad.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION is streaming on HBO MAX and available to rent or own across digital and physical media.