MovieChat Forums > National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) Discussion > Clark's problem solving inability makes ...

Clark's problem solving inability makes no sense

This is a grown man. He is supposed to have learned logical problem solving by now.

Sure, an ongoing, mysterious problem can REALLY grate your nerves, I should know - just thinking about some things I can't understand and yet tried to solve can still almost drive me mad.

However, Clark is NOT in a desperate situation with the lights.

At first, yes, he can't figure out, why it doesn't work. But instead of doing the sensible, logical thing, he just keeps trying to connect two plugs - why do those lights not have a proper LIGHT SWITCH instead of having to dangerously (with SPARKS flying, mind you!!) connect two live wires is beyond me..

I mean, first of all, Clark should just check the WHOLE distance from the plug to the first light, and see if there are obstructions, if everything is indeed connected, and so on. Try it with the most MINIMAL thing, try it with one light bulb to see if the outlet itself works, then add things until you figure out where it stops working. THE LOGICAL THING, you know, what the F?

Also, WHY is it that in every damn movie and TV show, when a character EXCLAIMS that 'do you REALLY think I would..', that's EXACTLY what they did or didn't do? Why would Clark just say 'Do you think I would blah without checking blah', instead of just CHECKING IT, since he _OBVIOUSLY_ did not do it? What's wrong with him, is he a child that lies to himself??

Second, and maybe even more important point; he experienced a situation where the lights DID work. Instead of just assuming they will always work from that point on, he should STILL investigate and check things, because it's STILL important to gain knowledge as to WHY they suddenly worked, but not before. He suddenly doesn't care, until they go off again (see, it would've been useful to KNOW at this point).

Now, why is he becoming angry? It makes no sense.

He _JUST_ got one MAJOR step closer to solving the problem! He knows now that:

1) The lights WORK
2) The lights CAN BE MADE TO WORK just fine!

All he has to figure out now is _HOW_, and he's in the clear. One, simple task that should be done with the feeling of HOPE, not anger. "Oh, phew, at least now I know that the lights work AND that they can be made to work, it's just a matter of small detail to figure out how to establish this permanently"

All he has to do now is just explore every possibility, instead of just standing in place outside making the cables kiss over and over again. Just FOLLOW the damn cable, go in the house, INSPECT EVERY CENTIMETER (I won't support your nonsensical imperial crap system) of every single cable that has anything to do with the lights and you are done.

Why doesn't Clark know his OWN HOUSE's electrical systems AT ALL? I mean, the overly-plugged place that the wife (yay, woman is always smarter than man, go matriarchy!) keeps flicking the switch of, should be very well known to Clark, and the first thing he should go to.

He should also know, as a grown man, how DANGEROUS and unwise it is to plug SO DAMN MANY things into one outlet, extension cord or not! What the heck is going on in there anyway?

Also, something that has THAT many things plugged in, would not go unnoticed if it's turned on OR off! If you really are THAT desperate in that massive house that your electric system is that badly thought out, or you are that stupid that you plug everything to one big mess instead of planning things a BIT more carefully and wisely, then shouldn't all of those things be so useful they'd be on most of the time, so wouldn't you NOTICE if all of them go on/off?

I mean, what are those things plugged in there anyway?

Is Clark a grown man or not? Why would he let this kind of mess be any part of this otherwise almost well-designed house (or the attic ladder come down SO violently, and yet he somehow doesn't KNOW it does that, somehow he OWNS an attic ladder that comes down like a punch, but he still hasn't gotten used to it enough to be able to avoid it? WHO DESIGNES A LADDER THAT WAY ANYWAY AND WHY?!)

I know, comedy and all, but think about it, could a comedy at least make SOME sense?

This is why I hate this movie and love the original. The original makes so much more sense, Clark is not a complete child-brained IDIOT in that one.

The other reason I hate this movie, is that they try to include 'sappy moments' to make you cry instead of just making you laugh. Why? What's wrong with making you JUST LAUGH, why do they always try to insert these sappy moments to try to make you cry as well? Is it because of women? I think it's because of women.

Look at Seinfeld; no sappiness, just laughter. Then look at Frasier, suddenly laughter wasn't good enough. We have to have sappy 'cry, now'-moments, too.

Clark should be HAPPY that the lights worked, no matter how shortly, because now he is a BIG step closer to solving the problem. I am always happy at this kind of moment when solving something, it means I am approaching the solution. Clark has a tantrum.


He's a food chemist, not an electrical engineer.


In a silly, absurdist comedy, his ineptitude makes perfect sense. Immerse yourself in the genre, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the story for what it is intended to be.


As far as the lights go it seemed like a fairly logical problem. Looked like he had dozens of strands of lights and different types along with dozens of extension cords. When you see him looking over his wires they're plugged into a reasonably organized power strip. Everything was actually done correctly save the switch that turns the socket on. IMO it was a perfectly understandable thing that he simply overlooked a double switch, probably because he was focused and occupied by all the more complexities.

At the end of the day its a comedy! A comedy that wanders by and forth from realism!