Vacation Retrospective Part 4


Chevy Chase serenading The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” is a cue to the insipidness ahead for us in Vegas Vacation, the toothless, regurgitated swan song for Chase’s reign over the Vacation label. Stephen Kessler is an inept  hack director who resorts to a record scratch and zany music for guffaws. The one quasi-funny in-joke is Clark’s line that he “doesn’t even recognize [the kids] anymore” because the actors for Audrey and Rusty have been recast with each successive movie.

Like Jerry Lewis who should’ve outgrown his juvenile pratfalls, Chase is obviously anaesthetized as to when he should retire from a young man’s sports like being suspended bodily over the Hoover Dam. Chase is too listless to even lob jeers at Cousin Eddie. At this point, he is a doddering old man without copacetic comic timing.

Wayne Newton was a surprisingly Machiavellian villain in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane but this is a charmless send-up of his glitzy stage persona. Every rimshot is a joyless retread from Eddie’s disability capitalization to Clark yelling for Rusty (Ethan Embry) when he is plainly in sight to Cousin Catherine’s (Miriam Flynn) silent rage over “not having a minute free” and multiple pregnancies.

The Vacation movies don’t necessarily require obscenities for their levity but it’s a snapshot of the zeitgeist that they’ve shackled themselves from the R-rated original to this PG-rated appendage. Squeaky-voiced Wallace Shawn and loutish Randy Quaid can usually disentomb chuckles wherever they are but they are nuisances in this strident outing.

It’s such a tawdry, last-ditch effort to conjure the cockles of the heart when Lindsay Buckingham’s iconic song begins and Clark is revisited by the Girl in the Red Ferrari (Brinkley again). The payoff to the callback is that Brinkley is now a coquettish mom which is a pretty discouraging illustration of the passage of time and the necessity of sowing one’s oats.

After this debacle, Vacation would lie dormant like a Sleeping Giant before New Line bought the rights and began tinkering with the misbegotten notion of a remake. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and a sequel-reboot is slated for release July 29th with Rusty as the newfangled patriarch. Let’s hope it continues the odd number trend of solid comedies.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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