AMC's Best Christmas Ever: 10 Things We Love About National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation | AMC Talk | AMC (2023)

Posted by undefined Editors | December 23, 2019

Yearly viewings of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation have become a holiday tradition for families everywhere. As part of AMC's Best Christmas Ever,a holiday movie spectacular featuring hours of Christmas movies, specials and more, you and your loved ones can watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and more holiday favorites now through December 31st.

Featuring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid and more, the beloved Christmas comedy turned 30 this month. To celebrate the milestone anniversary of the film that brings families the "hap, hap, happiest Christmas" every year, we're reflecting on what we love about the Christmas classic:

1. It's Written by John Hughes

John Hughes is often remembered for his iconic teen movies like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and more, but he brings his talent for witty characters who can't get along to the Vacation franchise. In his pre-Hollywood days, Hughes was actually a frequent contributor to the humor magazine National Lampoon. The idea for National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation started as a short story he wrote for the magazine in 1980 titled "Christmas '59." If you look closely in the movie, when Clark is stuck in his attic watching old VHS tapes, one of the tapes is labelled "Christmas '59."

2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Multi-Emmy Award-winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus was only 28 when she played the Griswold's much maligned, disdainful yuppie neighbor, Margo Chester — though it's hard to feel too bad for the Griswolds here when Clark returns the Chester's scorn with even worse behavior throughout the movie. Louis-Dreyfuss is actually one of four Saturday Night Live alumni in the film; Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid and Brian Doyle-Murray also took a turn on SNL.

3. The Griswold Family Tree

The film opens with the Griswolds on their way to collect their Christmas tree for the season. Clark is obsessed with finding the best Christmas tree in the forest, just as he's obsessed with creating a "picture perfect" Christmas in everything else — before things go awry. Clark of course forgets to bring a saw, so the film implies that he literally digs up the tree by its roots to cart it to their home. When the Griswolds finally set the tree up in their house, it blows out their windows because it's so large. What does Clark have to say about it? "Lotta sap in here." It's a sequence too ridiculous not to love.

4. Brian Doyle-Murray

Brian Doyle-Murray returns for his second role in the National Lampoon's Vacation franchise, this time as Frank Shirley, Clark's penny-pinching boss (he appears in the original Vacation movie as the Kamp Komfort clerk). Doyle-Murray has had a prolific career in film and television, but if you still can't quite place why his face looks so familiar, it might be because he's Bill Murray's older brother. You can see Brian Doyle-Murray in AMC's Lodge 49 as Ernie's boss, Bob Kruger.

5. Cousin Eddie Is Allegedly Based on a Real Person

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is full of a hilarious cast of characters, but Cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid, might just take the cake as the most memorable. Cousin Eddie seems like such an out-of-this-world character, but allegedly, Randy Quaid has said that he adapted some of Cousin Eddie's mannerisms (like the tongue-clicking), from someone Quaid knew while growing up in Texas!

6. Johnny Galecki's Glow Up

Johnny Galecki was only 13 years old when he played the Griswold's teenage son, Rusty. While he had done some acting before Christmas Vacation, Galecki was still wet behind the ears. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Galecki recalls, "Chevy [Chase] worked like a puppet master for me in some scenes since I was young and had never done comedy before. He’d almost cue me for my timing." Fast-forward to 2018, and Galecki was reported to be the second highest-paid television actor that year for his role as Leonard Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory. Looks like those comedy lessons from Chevy Chase really paid off!

7. The Squirrel Scene Caused Actual Chaos

When Clark brings in a new Christmas tree from his lawn, he releases an unexpected guest into the house: a squirrel. The squirrel causes rampant chaos throughout the Griswold home, especially when Eddie's dog gives chase. In real life, filming the squirrel chase scene was it's own kind of pandemonium. An animal trainer had spent months training the dog and squirrel "actors" to run through the set, but on the day of the shoot, the trainer broke bad news to director Jeremiah Chechik: the squirrel was dead. Chechik recalls the trainer said, "Ya know, they don’t live that long." The crew resorted to using an untrained squirrel. Diane Ladd (Norah Griwsold) toldRolling Stone that sheremembers during filming: "I’m supposed to pass out on the floor and the squirrel runs past me. And the director said, 'Diane, please get closer to the squirrel!' Meanwhile, the squirrel wrangler was saying, 'Diane, please don’t get closer to the squirrel. If someone screams or scares one, their claws are like razor blades.'" No wonder the Griswolds are terrified of it!

8. Pep Talks With Dad

In the previous National Lampoon films, there's a man-to-man talk between Clark and his son, Rusty, but in Christmas Vacation, Clark's dad is the one to take him aside. After Clark explodes in anger at his family when everything goes wrong, his dad gives him an emotional pep talk. "You're too good a father to act like this," Clark, Sr. tells his son privately. It's a memorably sweet scene in an otherwise insane movie — and it's the turning point to reminding Clark about the true meaning of the season.

9. Christmas Bonus Solidarity

In the climax of the movie, the police come to rescue Clark's boss, Frank Shirley, after Cousin Eddie kidnaps him as a gift for Clark. The armed officers storm the Griswold home and keep the family frozen at gunpoint, but when the truth comes out that Frank suspended Christmas bonuses for his employees, the tides turn. Even Frank's wife is upset with him! It's a funny twist on a tense scene.

10. The True Meaning of Christmas

Despite the shenanigans, explosions and disasters, Clark makes it to the end of the movie finally understanding the true meaning of Christmas. It's not about making a "picture perfect" holiday, but it's about the people you love — even if they frustrate you during the holidays. The movie's message makes it one of the most enduring holiday classics of all time.

Watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation now, or settle in for a "Stay-Cation" with an all day marathon of the Vacation movies on Thursday, December 26 on-air on AMC. Check out the full schedule here.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is available to watch with a cable login on and the AMC apps through December 31. Got an Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One or Fire TV? Hallelujah! Download the AMC app and start streaming National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on your television right away. Looking for some Christmas cheer on the go? You can also watch the Griswolds on your mobile device with the AMC mobile app, available for iOS, Android, Windows and Fire Tablets, andAMC+, the company’s premium subscription bundle (currently available to Comcast Xfinity, DISH and Sling TV customers. and with Apple TV Channels and Amazon Prime Video Channels).

Check out the full schedule here to see when your favorite holiday movies are airing on AMC. Don't want to wait? Take a look at our full holiday offering of Christmas movies on and the AMC apps.

For more details on how to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and the rest of AMC's Best Christmas Ever holiday movie spectacular, sign up for the AMC Insiders' Club.


How many cuss words are in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? ›

While some, like 1990's Home Alone, are relatively tame (it has just nine swear words), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) has a relatively robust 23.

What are the inappropriate parts of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? ›

In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation you can expect to see partial nudity, some sexual content, suggestive references, and some characters using profanity. To sum it up, the unedited version of Christmas Vacation is not kid-friendly.

Which National Lampoon Vacation movie is most popular? ›

And one movie stood out among the rest. According to the website, 40 states love watching the 1989 film “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation!” during the holidays. The site claims one state, in particular, loves the movie more than the others: Iowa.

Is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation good for kids? ›

Parents need to know that much of the slapstick humor in 1989's National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is directed at younger viewers -- from the cartoon opening to an impossibly high-speed sled ride -- but language and sexual references make it iffy for younger kids.

What is the F word in a Christmas story? ›

That said, both kid and adult characters use and discuss strong language ("ass," "son of a bitch"), and one famous scene involves young Ralphie using the "F" word (though viewers hear the word "fudge"). Afterward, he's punished for swearing by having his mouth washed out with soap.

What is the most cuss words in a movie? ›

The top 10 movies with the most swear words:
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013) – 715.
  • Uncut Gems (Josh and Benny Safide, 2019) – 646.
  • Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995) – 606.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Kevin Smith, 2001) – 509.
  • Fury (David Ayer, 2014) – 489.
  • Straight Outta Compton (F.
Mar 12, 2022

Does Christmas Vacation say Santa isn't real? ›

Best for: Ages 10+ This movie isn't intended for kids young enough to really want to believe in Santa, but just in case: Phoebe Cates' character gives a memorable speech about how she found out that Santa wasn't real.

What is dirty movie rated? ›

Why are the kids always different in National Lampoon movies? ›

In each of the main films of the series, the Griswold children are portrayed by different actors. This is usually attributed to the fact that after Anthony Michael Hall declined to reprise his role in European Vacation in order to star in Weird Science, director Amy Heckerling requested both children be recast.

What city was National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation supposed to be in? ›

Plot. Chicago-area resident Clark Griswold intends to have a great Christmas with his entire family. He drives his wife Ellen and children Audrey and Rusty out to the country to find a tree, ultimately choosing the largest one they can find.

Why is it called National Lampoon's? ›

National Lampoon was started by Harvard graduates and Harvard Lampoon alumni Doug Kenney, Henry Beard and Robert Hoffman in 1969, when they first licensed the "Lampoon" name for a monthly national publication.

Is it Griswold or Griswald? ›

In the first two films, the Griswold name was spelled with an "a" (Griswald). However, by the third movie (Christmas Vacation), they changed the spelling from Griswald to Griswold.

Why do people like National Lampoon's Christmas? ›

They are sweet stories about the perils of commercialism, the value of friendship and family, and spreading joy and goodwill to others. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is not your typical Christmas classic. Clark Griswold would love nothing more than to host the most perfect Christmas ever.

Why is vacation rated R? ›

Vacation is rated R by the MPAA for crude and sexual content and language throughout, and brief graphic nudity.

What is the best age for kids to go on holidays? ›

Traveling with a 10-12 year old can be the perfect age for family vacations. These kids are still young enough to want to come along, but also old enough to have opinions on the itinerary and activities. It is helpful to plan ahead and share the plans with older children so they know what to expect each day.

Does Clark say the F word in Christmas Vacation? ›

Clark's "f' bomb.

The line, "We're gonna have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny f*cking Kaye!", was a nod to a scene from White Christmas (1954), and the quote was the second one in a 1980s PG-rated movie to feature the "f" word uncensored (Big was the first).

What Christmas movie has the most swear words in it? ›

Bad Santa” ranked #1 with 255 swear words.

What show has the most swear words? ›

By Jake Rossen | Jun 2, 2023
RankShowExpletives Per Minute (EPM)
1The Thick of It3
3Peep Show2.04
4The Wire1.41
6 more rows
Jun 2, 2023

What cartoon has the most swear words? ›

Fun Fact: Till date, South Park holds the Guinness World Record for 'Most Swearing In Animated Series'.

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