How 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' Is Connected To 'Lethal Weapon'

The holiday season is here. And for many, that means an annual screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The 1989 movie written by filmmaker John Hughes is the third installment in the Vacation series. More than 30 years later, it continues to be a popular Christmas movie. 

Christmas Vacation has all the makings of a go-to holiday movie. There’s snow, festive decorations, crowded stores, and, of course, family. But the comedy also has a connection to another popular ‘80s movie. One that has nothing to do with Christmas. The 1987 action movie, Lethal Weapon, starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Gary Busey. 

‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ is filmed in California

Like many films directed by Hughes, Christmas Vacation is set in Chicago. The Griswold family lives in the suburbs of the Windy City and at one point, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) even wears a custom Chicago Blackhawks jersey. However, most of the movie was filmed in Burbank, California, at the Warner Brothers Studios. 

On top of that, Christmas Vacation wasn’t shot in the winter. Filming took place in the spring and summer months of 1989. The majority of the snow was fake, save for a few scenes which were filmed in various Colorado towns, including Silverthorne, Breckenridge, and Frisco. Think: the sledding scene where Clark ends up in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  

The Griswold house is also seen in ‘Lethal Weapon’ 

Speaking to Rolling Stone with a number of his Christmas Vacation co-stars, Chase shared a connection the holiday movie has with Lethal Weapon. The action-thriller and Christmas Vacation filmed in the same house. 

“The house we used is on the back lot at Warner Brothers,” Chase said. “It was the same house where they shot Lethal Weapon.”

“The toilet that blew up with Danny Glover was actually lying out on the lawn when we arrived there, waiting for the next crew to come in,” he added. 

Lethal Weapon is a far cry from Christmas Vacation. The R-rated film follows two men as they uncover an elaborate drug trafficking ring. 

‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ is connected to another movie

Lethal Weapon isn’t the only film Christmas Vacation has ties to. The comedy has connections to the classic holiday movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart as a man who learns to appreciate what he has in his life. 

Not only does Rusty Griswold (Johnny Galecki) watch It’s a Wonderful Life in the moments leading up to his grandparents’ arrival but someone on the Christmas Vacation production team had a close connection to the classic. Frank Capra III, the grandson to It’s a Wonderful Life director Frank Capra, worked as second assistant director on Christmas Vacation.  

Christmas Vacation isn’t streaming on Netflix but like many other popular holiday movies, it will be on TV multiple times. 

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