Remember how in the late eighties/early nineties, every movie seemed to have a cartoon opening credits sequence? They usually served to summarize the events you would see following in the hour and a half of live action. Well, the one in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation did more than that: with Santa getting electrocuted, and reindeer almost crashing into houses, the opening effectively set up the tone for the film that would follow: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is full of sight gags, precocious kids, blunders with trees, lights and toilets, and road rage-- you know, all of the things that make up a typical modern Christmas spent with family.
Throw in some ritzy but nosy neighbors (including Julia Louis-Dreyfus), quarreling in-laws (like Doris Roberts), white trash extended families (Randy Quaid), and a Scrooge of a boss who stiffs his employees on a Christmas bonus...even after the bonus has already been spent, stir them all together under one roof, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation becomes full of more tension than cheer. But of course all of that tension only leads to comical exchanges and the relieving sensation that at least you aren't related to these people! Sure, we all may fight with Christmas lights, but how many of us can say the SWAT team has been called into our family holiday dinner??
Fans of The Big Bang Theory will also relish seeing Little Leonard (Johnny Galecki) sans spectacles and Star Trek tees!