Posts Tagged ‘soundtrack’

12 Days of Highly Tolerable Holiday Movies: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

December 21, 2010

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1989).

The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters — Male Kalikimaka.

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That’s the island greeting that we send to you from the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to you!

Randy Quaid said that he based a lot of Cousin Eddie’s mannerisms and delivery on a guy he knew growing up in Texas. Also, wearing the extremely obvious black dickie under his white sweater was Randy Quaid’s wife Evi’s idea.

Even more exciting fact about Randy Quaid: He went to high school with Brent Spiner! (That’s Data, if you are not a dork and have one of those “lives,” or whatever you people call them. And if you are still lost, Data is a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and may I add that it is weird that you are even reading this blog because you are way too cool for this school. I assume you are here for soft-core porn and nothing more.)

John Hughes, departed King of the Eighties, wrote but did not direct this modern holiday classic, in which the star-crossed Griswold clan takes a stab at Christmas. He based the screenplay on a story he wrote for National Lampoon magazine in December, 1980.

That story, “Christmas ’59,” was his follow-up to “Christmas ’58,” his story from the previous year, on which National Lampoon’s Vacation was based. “Christmas ’59” is referenced in the movie when Clark goes up to the attic. As he goes through old tapes and reels, he passes a box that says “Xmas ’59.”



What are you looking at?

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.


You set standards that no family activity can live up to.

Wha– When have I ever done that?

Parties, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, vacations, graduations…


The scene where the cat bites on the Christmas lights cord and gets electrocuted was nearly cut from the movie. Prior to the first test screening. the studio execs wanted the scene taken out, fearing that it might offend some viewers, but producer Matty Simmons begged them to leave the scene in, and they eventually gave in to his request. After the first test screening, the test audience had scored the cat electrocution scene as the No. 1 favorite scene throughout the entire movie.

(the imdb)

I’m not the least surprised: test audiences are notoriously bloodthirsty.

I’m not sure from where they pull these twisted test audience members, but it’s a super-prevalent problem. As an example, it was a test audience who suggested that scene where the witch is drinking horse blood from a hollowed out hoof be left in My Little Pony: The Movie.

All the houses on the street in the Griswolds’ neighborhood are on the Warner Bros. backlot. The house in which the a-hole yuppies live is the Murtaugh house from the Lethal Weapon film series. The housefront in the home movie when Clark is upstairs in the attic was first used in Bewitched and then in the 1980’s in The New Gidget.


I am not a fan of defining gals by the dudes they’ve notched on their belts but I do bring it up if it’s as noteworthy as this case. Beverly D’Angelo has had a very, um, varied love life that includes marriage to a duke who is a descendant of Lorenzo de’Medici, Al Pacino, director Neil Jordan, and Anton Furst, who committed suicide after their separation. She’s got twins with Pacino and will be seen next year in Nailed, a David O. Russell picture also starring Jessica Biel, Kirstie Alley, Jon Stewart, Tracy Morgan, and Catherine Keener. Juts a bunch of super-cool funny guys. No big deal.

This was all brand-new news to me. I’m pretty surprised. I guess I did not know shit about Beverly D’Angelo.

The film is aired every Christmas night in Australia on the Nine Network. In America, it has a more tortured television history involving corporate games and censure. And let us not speak of the Cousin Eddie Island Adventure sequel.


Bethany is played by Mae Questel. The former mimic and vaudeville sensation is probably most famous for providing the squeaky voices of Olive Oyl and Betty Boop. This was her second to last role: she retired from show biz and died of complications related to Alzheimer’s in 1998.


As the unsinkable Clark Griswold of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Chevy Chase survives a holiday season that would try Job’s patience. His dreams of “the most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas ever” soon give way to the realities of bulbs that won’t light and a pine that’s too big for the living room.

(Kempley, Rita. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” December 1, 1989. The Washington Post.)


Never mind. Clark’s faith in family tradition is Rockwellian, his spirits up there with the mistletoe. When the yule log smolders and the turkey explodes, this avowed family man counts his blessings, such as they are.

(Ibid.)

Movie Moment: (500) Days of Summer

January 5, 2010

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer (Mark Webb, 2009).


“Tom meets Summer on January 8th. He knows almost immediately she’s who he’s been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story.”

(Summer is the consummate Virgo. Anal in both senses and an overanalytical, old-fashioned, misanthropic commitment-phobe, to boot.)

Pretty much, Nancy Boy. He is the opposite of Summer — oh, noes, but Tom loves her so much, what will happen next?! Can these crazy kids work it out when all the odds and Summer’s lack of romantic soulful feelings to Tom are against them??? Actually, SPOILER, it does not pan out. Major spoiler, really. The ending is optimistic but also underlying it is a cheap joke by its creator, which on reflection aptly typifies the reality of love, doesn’t it?, so I take that back as a criticism; now that I think about it, it almost makes me like the stupid joke more. The complaint I have heard most often is that this movie is good except for them breaking up. I dig what you’re saying but to me it’s like when people complain about the fact that Jo and Laurie in Little Women did not get together — that’s how the world is, sometimes you think a thing should go a way, and it doesn’t, and that’s amor fati; i.e., part of the plan too big for you to understand, for now. I think that’s what makes it good.

Screencaps from this movie are everywhere, but these nifty subtitled ones come courtesy One Day, One Movie. The soundtrack is pretty darned good, too, although I am aware there’s been a weird backlash against it. I’m not good at worrying about people’s opinions of what is cool or not cool within my weird range of musical tastes (she says as George Jones follows The Cardigans which followed Pink Floyd on her iTunes playlist — I truly never know what to expect), so I still strongly advocate you buy or illegally download the soundtrack. At least go to my previous post somewhat related to this issue and get Zooey’s cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “Sugar Town”.

Movie Moment: Ghostbusters (1984) – Janine Melnitz edition

November 20, 2009

I think about Ghostbusters a lot. Maybe more than anyone should. But I find it uplifting and comfortable, like slipping in to bed at the end of a long day: it’s just right. I also used to use Ghostbusters as an age gauge: since I was able to see this in theaters — albeit pretty young — then if you were not born when Ghostbusters came out, the cultural divide between us was insurmountable and it would be creepy to date you. For the record, I’ve lifted that. I’m well up to Mannequin (1987) now. Call me!

Anyway, Annie Potts portrayed Miz Janine Melnitz, the Ghostbusters’ secretary, and here is some of that.


Type something, will you? We’re paying for this stuff. And don’t stare at me, you got those bug-eyes.

[pause]

Janine? Sorry about the bug-eyes thing. I’ll be in my office.

Cue Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats. I have this soundtrack on LP and I’m not ashamed.