Tag Archives: William Hickey

The Set of 400: #119 – My Favorite Attic Home Movies

Today! Because I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery –

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

Starring Chevy Chase (x3), Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid (x3), Juliette Lewis (x3), Johnny Galecki, Diane Ladd, E.G. Marshall (x3), Doris Roberts, John Randolph, William Hickey (x3), Mae Questel, Miriam Flynn, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (x2), Nicholas Guest, Brian Doyle-Murray (x4), Sam McMurray, Alexander Folk, Cody Burger, Ellen Latzen, Nicolette Scorsese

The funniest Christmas movie ever made, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation also falls into that oft-mentioned scenario where I think of its predecessors as being prequels. In other cases like this, it usually plays out that the sequel is so vastly superior to the original movie that I can’t help but think of the films this way. Here though, the issue is more that I’ve seen (and I actively see) Christmas Vacation way more than Vacation or European Vacation. The original Vacation is still a really funny movie, and without it some little bits in Christmas probably wouldn’t work as well – some, like the car getting such major air, are straight retread jokes – but I’m going to estimate that I’ve seen Christmas Vacation three or four dozen times in my life, whereas I’ve probably sat and watched Vacation once in the last two decades.

It also has one of the most perfect last lines in movie history

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The Set of 400: #253 – My Favorite Grocery Store Pickup Line

Today! Because I am the worst case scenario of Thomas Jefferson’s dream –

My Blue Heaven (1990)

Directed by Herbert Ross

Starring Steve Martin (x4), Rick Moranis, Carol Kane, Bill Irwin (x3), Joan Cusack, Melanie Mayron, William Hickey (x2), Daniel Stern, Ed Lauter, Colleen Camp, Deborah Rush, Jesse Bradford, Julie Bovasso, Gordon Currie, Carol Ann Susi, Ellen Albertini Dow (x3)

The third of the three comedies they’d appear in (if you don’t count Rick’s uncredited cameo in L.A. Story), My Blue Heaven makes the most out of teaming Martin and Moranis. Parenthood is more drama than comedy and Little Shop of Horrors only has them together briefly, but My Blue Heaven gives them a pair of conflicting, two-ish dimensional characters and let’s them run. Martin’s witness protected gangster Vinnie needs to stay out of trouble until the trial, and Moranis’s FBI agent Barney Coopersmith is tasked with handling him, to great comic effect.

While Moranis seems obviously suited for the nerdy G-man role, Martin as a slick Italian gangster doesn’t immediately sound right. In fact, Martin originally was supposed to play Barney, but after someone (Schwarzenegger? That can’t be right) dropped out, he switched roles and they brought in Moranis. Genius move! Both are playing extreme stereotyped versions of these parts – they weren’t aiming for a gritty mob film with comedic touches, it’s a wall-to-wall comedy – and their interplay, as well as their romantic entanglements, provide for a solidly underrated gem all around. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #379 – My Favorite Self Lobotomy

Today! Because you aren’t comprehending the position that you’re in –

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Directed by Henry Selick

Starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Edward Ivory, Greg Proops

As the years have gone by, The Nightmare Before Christmas has become more and more a vehicle to sell tie-in merchandise. Disney’s not one to let these sort of opportunities slide, so even though it was fairly successful in its initial release, it quickly morphed into something very different. And it’s nice that this movie found an audience – it is a terrific piece of ghoulish fun – but I do think the movie itself tends to get a bit lost in all the Halloween costumes, figurines, and whatnot. Continue reading

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