Every year, my family watches National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation twice. Once on Thanksgiving to start the season, and then again on Christmas Eve to bring it to a close. And in the tradition of my family, ’tis now the appropriate season to pay tribute to its glory. Unfortunately, I was a day late, but this will also serve as a belated birthday post, as the movie turned 25 yesterday! Here are the seven best lines in the movie – I had to limit it to seven to keep from transcribing the entire movie.
*Warning: I don’t usually use language, but it was impossible to pay proper tribute to this movie without it.
7. “If I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”
Clark’s reaction to Eddie (and family) showing up unannounced – Catherine says “Eddie wanted it to be a surprise”, to which Eddie adds: “You surprised, Clark?!” I love this line because it’s so well delivered by Chevy Chase, and anyone who’s ever had family stay with them for the holidays can sympathize with this feeling.
6. “You serious, Clark?”
The perfect representation of Cousin Eddie. At the Christmas Eve dinner table, Clark tells the kids – who don’t believe in Santa because Eddie and Catherine couldn’t afford Christmas presents in years past – that the news reported that Santa was spotted nearby. The rest of the family excitedly oohs and ahhs, and the kids’ eyes double in size. And then Eddie, full of innocence and skepticism, says “You serious, Clark?”
5. “Fixed the newel-post!”
If I walk into a living room full of my family and say “Want to watch Christmas Vacation?”, at least three people will yell this line. It is not only iconic, but also comedic gold. After Uncle Lewis burns down the tree that was dried up because Cousin Eddie’s dog drank all of the water (took me an admittedly long time to make that connection, btw), Clark decides to get a new tree. So he cuts down the one in his neighbor’s front yard. If that wasn’t enough of a sign that he’s about to lose his marbles, he swears to Ellen that he’s fine – as he reaches for his chainsaw on the bathroom counter – and on the way down the stairs, catches his hand on the wobbly post. Already in a problem-solving mood, he revs the chainsaw and removes the knob. “Fixed the newel-post!”
4. “Well that’s my name!”
This is only one line to represent one of the best overall exchanges in the movie. Clark is Christmas shopping at the mall with Rusty, and comes across a very attractive women selling lingerie. A bit tongue-tied by her beauty, what follows is a ridiculous slew of innuendos that come to a perfect climax with:
“‘Tis the season to be merry.”
“Well that’s my name!”
3. “If that cat had nine lives, it sure used ’em all.”
Honestly, my favorite part of the entire movie. Aunt Bethany’s cat – whom she wrapped up as a Christmas present – unplugs the lights on the tree and chews on them underneath the living room chair. When Clark discovers that they have come unplugged, he joyously fixes the problem. And then, not the first strand, but the SECOND strand of lights leads to the cat. I lose it every single time when you hear the cat screech and the power in the whole house flickers.
2. “Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!”
Oh Eddie. The best part about this scene is that it’s prefaced with Clark gazing out the window. Ellen asks him what he’s looking at, and he says wistfully: “Oh, the silent majesty of a winter’s morn. The clean, cool chill of the holiday air. An asshole in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer.” Then we see just that: Eddie, in his bathrobe, draining his recreational vehicle’s toilet (Because “that there is an R.V.”) into the storm sewer. When Todd, the uptight neighbor, comes out of his house for a morning job, he’s met with the sight (and smell), and Eddie’s cheery greeting drives him back into his house.
1. “Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol?”
What a perfect way to end a perfect rant. When Clark learns that instead of a Christmas bonus, he’s been enrolled in the Jelly of the Month club (in Eddie’s words, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year), he launches into a long, long list of things he’d like to call his boss, Frank Shirley. When he finishes his tirade, he takes what breath he has left and utters those last three phrases as a perfect punctuation mark.