National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Movie Poster Image

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation



Silly humor for the holidays; some iffy.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: December 8, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

It is a National Lampoon film, so any specific message is secondary to crude humor and slapstick comedy. Still, it could be so much worse.

Positive role models

This movie makes all of its characters look ridiculous, but the only negative stereotype is of a busty woman who sells lingerie in the local mall.


Many laughs depend on mishaps like falling from ladders or traveling in a car stuck underneath a big rig, but nobody gets hurt. A pet cat, however, gets electrocuted.


Some flirting with a lingerie sales lady leads to some provocative dialogue and camera angles. Later on, she appears in a daydream stripping out of her bathing suit. The camera cuts away before she finishes.


Some profanity.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink too much.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that much of the slapstick humor is obviously directed at preteens, from the cartoon opening to an impossibly high-speed sled ride, but some profanity and mild sexual references make this a questionable choice for the under-13 set. Many laughs depend on mishaps like falling from ladders or traveling in a car stuck underneath a big rig, but nobody gets hurt. A pet cat, however, gets electrocuted. The foul language is toned down a bit from the previous Vacation movies, but moderate to extreme profanities are sprinkled liberally throughout the show. This movie makes all of its characters look ridiculous, but the only negative stereotype is of a busty woman who sells lingerie in the local mall.

What's the story?

Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase), a hard-working father of two teens, is determined to show his family a fun-filled, old-fashioned Christmas in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION. By the time all of the in-laws and a crude second cousin show up, Clark has 25,000 lights stapled to the house and this predictable comedy is in full swing. Lowbrow, potentially offensive humor makes this best for older viewers. For a moment during the opening scene, it looks like we're going on the road again with the Griswald's. Actually, the family is just going to the country to chop down a 40-foot tree for an old fashioned Christmas at home, the first in a string of overblown escapades in Clark Griswald's quest for the perfect holiday. "I just know how you build up things in your mind," warns his loving but slightly confused wife, Ellen. But this fanatical family man won't be deterred until his miserly boss has been kidnapped and a SWAT team descends on his house to the tune of "Here Comes Santa Claus."

Is it any good?


For those who enjoyed the original Vacation, this holiday edition offers virtually the same story and characters with more predictability and less help from the supporting cast. Those who found Vacation utterly tasteless will find this to be slightly (but not much) cleaner. Chevy Chase has some good moments, and those who enjoy his double-talk and pratfalls will find some redeeming value in this lukewarm movie. His frustration at 250 strings of Christmas lights and his overtures to a busty sales lady are among the movie's best moments.

The producers attracted some decent talent to act as Clark's foils, but neither the stuck-up neighbor (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), nor the disgusting second cousin (Randy Quaid), nor the boss who stiffs Clark on his Christmas bonus (Brian Doyle-Murray) generate any laughs to speak of. The Griswald kids might as well be cardboard cutouts with their eyes permanently rolled. One inherent problem parents will have with this movie is how it juxtaposes juvenile humor with sexually suggestive scenes and strings of profanity.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about sequels. Why is a sequel rarely as good as the original? 

  • Is there a temptation on the part of movie-makers to essentially repeat a winning formula? 

  • If you've seen the other Chevy Chase Vacation movies, did you find anything in this movie surprising?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 1, 1989
DVD release date:November 18, 1997
Cast:Beverly D'Angelo, Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid
Director:Jeremiah S. Chechik
Studio:Warner Home Video
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:profanity and sexual situations

This review of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byaidanqm1996 August 21, 2009


Language, language, and more language. You can barely go a scene in this movie without at least 1 profanity.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old December 21, 2010


This is the funniest thing ever! I watch it every Christmas and every year I end up crying it is so funny. THE LANGUAGE IS THE WORST THING ON THIS MOVIE! The f word is said once. i can't remember whether the s word was said or not. It is a funny movie that kids can most likely watch. But I would not recomend it to anone under 10. Unless they are very mature.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byhellomynameisgeorge November 26, 2010

great for middle schoolers and up

this is a great christmas movie for the whole family. some kids wont get all the jokes, and there is nothing bad in it. the slapstick humor is funny. this is for middle schoolers and up. mabey a fifth grader if he acts mature. overall i give this movie for a great christmas movie a 10/10
What other families should know
Great messages


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?