Face-Off: Christmas Vacation vs. Home Alone

It wasn’t as close a race as I thought it would be in last week's Face-Off as James Cameron got the majority of your votes as he beat down on Kiwi director Peter Jackson and those adorable little hobbit-men of his. “Game over, man!”

Christmas is in the air and with the big day less than a week away now, it was only natural for us here at JoBlo.com to serve up a Christmas Face-Off for all you, whether you’ve been naughty or nice or just stone drunk all year long. My favorite Christmas movie is IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE but it would handily beat all competitors so I decided to instead throw two yuletide movies into the ring that I grew up with: CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) and HOME ALONE (1990). Interestingly enough, both these movies pay tribute to my favorite Christmas movie by having the film appear on a TV screen at some point during their story.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) ruined his family’s trip to Walley World in ’83 in VACATION and then took it one step further by spoiling their EUROPEAN VACATION in ’85. His heart is always in the right place but he constantly overdoes things in order to get family vacations just right and instead ends up turning everything into a colossal disaster.

This time it’s ‘89 and Clark has decided to plan the perfect Christmas family vacation at his home and as always he mucks it up but good! Written by the late, (very) great John Hughes, the movie is the perfect blend of continuous laughs, cozy X-mas sentiment and a topless Beverly D’Angelo. Actually, it was VACATION she was topless in and if you still haven’t seen it, stop reading this, look up the movie and forward to the shower scene. Anyway, if you want to see Chevy Chase’s last good movie and want to enjoy some quality laughs to drown out your family arguing, this is the movie that’ll get all your holiday kinks out.
John Hughes has the Christmas spirit firmly nestled in his heart as he was also responsible for writing HOME ALONE in 1990. A couple of extremely neglectful parents (John Heard and Catherine O’Hara) forget their 8-year old boy Kevin at home alone right before Christmas when they fly to France on their holiday vacation. Kevin, believing his wish the night before that this family disappear came true, takes advantage right away by eating junk food, causing havoc around the house and looking through his older brother’s porn mags.

Soon enough, a couple of bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) plan to rob Kevin’s house thinking a young boy is no match for their criminal expertise. Although young Kevin is not bright enough to easily seek refuge with trusted adults in town he is crafty enough to plan elaborate and painful methods of keeping the would-be thieves from robbing his family’s home. HOME ALONE has become a Christmas classic over the past 20 years and with good reason.
Christmas Message
If your boss is an asshole, don’t count on your Christmas bonus until the check is in your hands.
You can still have the time of your life at Christmas even if your entire family is far, far away on another continent.
Chevy Chase made some really funny movies in the 1980s (and only in the 80s) and was especially hilarious in the role of Clark Griswold, a part I can’t imagine any other actor playing (nobody can do the ‘crazy eyes’ like Chevy can). Chase carries these movies and with a new Russ (Johnny Galecki) and a new Audrey (Juliette Lewis) in the mix and the always sexy Beverly D’Angelo as his very patient wife, the cast of the family Griswold is as solid as it’s always been. Throw in his crazy cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid before he went crazy in real life), his yuppie-scum neighbor (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) and veteran actors Brian Doyle-Murray, William Hickey and E.G. Marshall and you’ve got an A-1 cast of pros that make this movie as genuine and funny as John Hughes intended it to be.
Mac Culkin went nowhere and fast after the Home Alone movies so I wouldn’t say he is a big name in this cast even though this movie made him a star. Still, the likes of Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern and John Candy do add some flavor to the film but the bucks stops there as the only other “big” names in the movie are John Heard and Catherine O’Hara. Some might say this is a photo finish but it’s clear to me the best cast category is won by CHRISTMAS VACATION.
1) Clark: “Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.”

2) Clark: “Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?”

3) Clark: “'Tis the season to be merry.”

Mary: “That's my name.”

Clark: “No shit.”

4) Clark: “Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

Eddie: “Naw, I'm doing just fine, Clark.”

5) [Todd and Margo Chester, the Griswold's yuppie neighbors, appear]

Todd: “Hey Griswold. Where do you think you're gonna put a tree that big?”

Clark: “Bend over and I'll show you.”

Todd: “You've got a lot of nerve talking to me like that Griswold.”

Clark: “I wasn't talking to you.”

6) Ellen: “What are you looking at?”

Clark: “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...”

[Eddie, in the driveway, is draining the RV's toilet]

Eddie: “Shitter was full.”

Clark: “Ah, yeah. You checked our shitters, honey?”
1) Gangster 'Johnny': ”Keep the change, ya filthy animal!”

2) Kevin McCallister: “This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys, nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And in a few years time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?”

3) Marv: “He's gonna call the cops!”

Harry: “He's not callin' the - from a tree house?”

4) Marley: “You live down the street from me right? You know anytime you see you can always say hello, you don't have to be afraid. A lot of stuff has been said about me, none of it's true.”

5) Harry: “What's so funny? What are you laughing at? You did it again didn't you? You left the water running. What's wrong with you? Why do you do that? I told you not to do it.”

Marv: “Harry, it's our calling card!”

Harry: “Calling card.”

Marv: All the great ones leave their mark. We're the wet bandits!””

6) Check-Out Woman: “Where's your mom?”

Kevin McCallister: “In the car.”

Check-Out Woman: “Where's your father?”

Kevin McCallister: “He's at work.”

Check-Out Woman: “What about your brothers and sisters?”

Kevin McCallister: “I'm an only child.”

Check-Out Woman: “Where do you live?”

Kevin McCallister: “I can't tell you that.”

Check-Out Woman: “Why not?”

Kevin McCallister: “Because you're a stranger.”

Box Office
CHRISTMAS VACATION was the most financially successful of the four movies in the Vacation franchise, earning $71.3 million domestically.
HOME ALONE made $285 million domestically and sits very comfortably in the 59th position in the top 100 biggest box offices smashes in the U.S.
Christmas Songs
One of the key elements in making a good Christmas movie is the choice of songs in its soundtrack. CHRISTMAS VACATION has some beauties in it which include Bing Crosby’s ‘Mele Kalikimaka’, Gene Autry’s ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’, Ray Charles’ ‘That Spirit Of Christmas’, The Moonglows’ ‘Hey, Santa Claus’ and the superb ‘Christmas Vacation’ by Mavis Staples which plays over the brilliant animated opening sequence. ‘Holiday Road’ isn’t in this one but it’s still a damn fine holiday soundtrack that’ll warm your heart on a cold December night in.
It’s mostly a rock & roll Christmas in HOME ALONE with such favorites as Brenda Lee’s ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, Chuck Berry’s ‘Run Rudolph Run’ and The Drifter’s ‘White Christmas.’ Mel Tormé brings it all home for us with ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.’ Both films have killer Christmas tunes in ‘em – this one’s a tie, kids!
Christmas Vacation
HOME ALONE is a sweet and touching Christmas film that I have very fond memories of growing up but watching both these movies again recently it was very clear to me that it is no match for CHRISTMAS VACATION when it comes to flat out laughs! I had forgotten how funny it is and it also manages to touch upon numerous cute and familiar Christmas moments. As the great George Costanza once said about HOME ALONE: “The old man got to me.” but it wasn’t nearly enough for it to nab the win in this holiday edition of the Face-Off.

Merry Christmas to you all and God Bless John Hughes...we miss you, man.



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