In search of the elusive perfect family Christmas, the Griswold’s holiday uproariously goes awry with the unexpected arrival of some obnoxious relatives in NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION. Starring Chevy Chase, the film was cast by AFI Conservatory faculty and alum Heidi Levitt (AFI Class of 1987).
AFI Movie Club: NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION
Watch AFI Faculty and Alum Heidi Levitt go “Behind the Scene” and talk about casting NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION in this exclusive conversation.
DID YOU KNOW? NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION is the third installment of the VACATION series. John Hughes based the screenplay on a short story he wrote for the magazine titled “Christmas ’59.” It marked the final film in the VACATION series to be branded as “National Lampoon’s,” and was also Hughes’ last writing credit in the franchise. It remains the highest-grossing film in the series.
DID YOU KNOW? NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION was filmed in Colorado during the summer of 1989, as well as at several studio locations in Burbank, California. The Griswold’s home was shot on the Warner Bros. backlot.
DID YOU KNOW? While Chevy Chase had made several sequels previously – including FLETCH LIVES and CADDYSHACK II – he called NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION “definitely the best.” Although Chase vowed it would be his last time making a sequel, he would reprise the role of Clark Griswold in VEGAS VACATION (1997).
DID YOU KNOW? Director Chris Columbus was initially hired to direct NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION and even began working on the picture – with establishing shots that remain in the film, however his strained relationship with the film’s star prompted him to leave the production. Writer John Hughes nonetheless worked with Columbus again – sharing the script for HOME ALONE with him just weeks later.
DID YOU KNOW? Oscar®-nominated actress Diane Ladd, who plays the role of Chevy Chase’s mother, was only one year older than the actor.
DID YOU KNOW? NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION featured four alumni from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brian Doyle-Murray.
DID YOU KNOW? NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION marked the final film of actress Mae Questel, who was known for providing the voice of iconic animated characters Betty Boop and Olive Oyl.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions
- NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION has become a holiday classic with lines that are highly recognizable even to those who have never seen the movie. Why do you think it is so memorable to audiencesand ingrained in popular culture? How is the humor relatable?
- Describe one of your favorite scenes of the movie’s physical comedy. What makes it so effective?
- In NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, Clark Griswold is the eternal optimist, stating: “Christmas is about resolving differences and seeing through the petty problems of family life.” How does this play out in the movie?
- Holidays bring families together, but also can rekindle old disputes and prompt discord instead of the expected familial unity. How does NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION represent family and the challenges of coming together at Christmas?
- How would you rate NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION?
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