Having seen European Vacation almost yearly (given how often it is screened on television) I’ve somehow made it this far without seeing Christmas Vacation, and I’m glad I’ve finally seen it, in all its slapstick glory.
The story is pretty typical of a Christmas film; a man wants a perfect Christmas for his family, and has little consideration of how it may affect those around him. The man is Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), and his family are his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), son Buck (Johnny Galecki now known for The Big Bang Theory) and daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis). And all the ring-ins – both sets of parents and trailer trash brother-in-law. Clark is expecting his Christmas bonus, and has put a deposit on a pool in anticipation, however he is left waiting for a long time. Meanwhile, everything he does seems to be ruining the lives of the yuppies next door (Julia Louise Dreyfus and Nicholas Guest)
It’s fun and stupid and worth a watch, just don’t be expecting Citizen Kane. Unless you really like disappointment; or hate Citizen Kane.
Mysterious spaceships appear over many major cities across the USA and, indeed, across the world. No-one is sure if they are friendly or not – no-one, that is, apart from David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) who needs to get himself in front of handsome President Thomas J Whitmore (Bill Pullman, and for more on the hotness of Bill Pullman, click here) and convince him of this. Meantime, drunk Vietnam veteran and ex-alien abductee Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) continues to embarrass and annoy his family. Until the aliens attack, killing many and destroying whole cities. Few survive, but they include First Lady Marilyn Whitmore (Mary McDonnell) who is left injured amongst smouldering wreckage and stripper Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A Fox) and her small son (and dog. Of course, the dog couldn’t die). Why do we care about the stripper? Because she’s got a hot boyfriend – Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) who is not only hot, but becomes one of the heroes as the world (well, let’s face it, the USA on behalf of the world) tries to find a way to battle these aliens.
I love Independence Day so much. I love that it is a simple story with a million flaws, but there are a whole heap of explosions and a lot of humour. It is far from a perfect film, but I’ll watch it again and again and again. Without a doubt.
Independence Day won an Oscar for Best Effects, Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Sound.