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‘Christmas Vacation’ to show at The Smith

Like all the movies in the “Vacation” series, 1989’s “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is comedy grounded in the concept that what can go wrong will go wrong — and will be funny because of it. Screenwriter John Hughes (who also wrote “Vacation” and “European Vacation”) was a master at creating this type of comedy (witness the brilliant “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”). It is hilarious and absurd, but never does it fail to capture the spirit of the holiday upon which it is built. It returns to the big screen at 7 p.m., Dec. 19, 20 and 22, and at 2:00 0n Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St.Chevy Chase’s Clark W. Griswold is the hero of every “Vacation” movie, the endearing but disaster-prone man who is always finding trouble, but only because he tries so hard to make his family happy. Clark’s heart is always in the right place even when he’s angry because he only wants the best for his family. That’s what makes him such a lovable character. You cannot help but root for a guy who puts others ahead of himself, especially when comedy is the result.It seems that Clark learned a lesson from his misadventures in the first two films, so he and wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) decided to stick around home for this Christmas season. Of course, Clark cannot steer clear of trouble, especially when family comes to visit.And what a family it is. Clark and Ellen’s extended families are full of strange characters. The casting here is outstanding with such greats as Diane Ladd, E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts, Miriam Flynn, Mae Questel (the original Betty Boop), Brian Doyle-Murray, and the brilliant William Hickey as Uncle Lewis, the man responsible for torching the Christmas tree.But it’s one-time Oscar nominee Randy Quaid (“The Last Detail”) who steals every scene in which he appears. His Cousin Eddie is fantastically funny as the black sheep of the family, the guy you would never want to invite anywhere, but in the end is the one who saves Christmas.One of the best things about “Christmas Vacation” is that there is never a moment where a gag isn’t being executed or in development. And, yes, the gags are silly, but who cares? They’re funny because they’re creative and over-the-top. We’ve got Uncle Lewis’ hairpiece, the sledding sequence, the car stuck under the truck, the vicious squirrel, the turkey that blows up, and Clark getting stuck in the attic, just to name a few. It’s all hilarious.And if all that is not enough, there is a hilarious peripheral subplot about a stereotypical ‘80s yuppie couple (TV’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jamie Lee Curtis’ brother-in-law, Nicholas Guest) who are constantly inconvenienced by Clark’s oblivious antics. Who could forget the flying ice log or the obnoxious lights or the tree through the window?Full of funny moments and one-liners, and sporting good performances from the main roles, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” should warm the coldest heart, and is the perfect film to watch during the holiday period. It is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 97 minutes. All tickets for this special holiday screening are $3. Call 315-781-LIVE (5483) or toll-free 1-866-355-LIVE (5483) for details or to order tickets. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.TheSmith.org.To help spread holiday blessings to those in need, The Smith suggests all patrons bring a canned food donation for the Geneva Center of Concern.

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