Here Are All the Laws Clark Griswold Broke in ‘Christmas Vacation’

“Let’s all acknowledge that Chevy Chase is the true hero of Christmas.”

Legal Eagle is a popular Youtube channel on which an attorney posts videos about various real-world legal issues as well as occasional videos telling us just how many laws characters break in some of our favorite movies. 

And since Chevy Chase is back in the news as Clark Griswold in a commercial for Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E (see below) anyway, it’s a great time to review with said lawyer just how criminal Clark’s behavior in the 1989 holiday comedy classic Christmas Vacation really is. 

First, we have to challenge counsel on one important point unrelated to the Griswolds: At the outset of the video, he declares Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, citing a Bruce Willis bit during a Comedy Central roast. 

It is our contention—based in part on statements made by Die Hard director John McTiernan and screenwriter Steven deSouza—that he’s wrong about that. Where Clark Griswold is concerned, however, he’s got a point. 

For anyone who hasn’t watched the video yet, here are the basics: While the attorney first says “Let’s all acknowledge that Chevy Chase is the true hero of Christmas, ” it’s also apparent that Clark Griswold is an idiot savant in the art of criminal damage. He commits all five forms of it in the movie. Power surges, turning his house into a firetrap—he goes for broke.

In the end, according to the Legal Eagle, Clark committed acts, including bank fraud and aggravated kidnapping, that could net up to $75,000 in fines and 15 years in prison.

All for our entertainment. But that would’ve been one terrible Christmas in the real world.

This isn’t the first time the Legal Eagle has taken on an 80s holiday film: In 2019 he took on Home Alone—and as you might imagine, it’s chock-full of felonies that could put Joe Pesci’s and Daniel Stern’s burglar characters in jail for decades—but in part, because he is a minor, Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin McCallister would pretty much get away scot-free with everything he does, including shoplifting and attempted homicide.

There you go. Christmas in reality: A time for festive holiday cheer, fun, and relaxation. Christmas in the movies: Kind of like The Purge but with less random murder.