Vegas Vacation [Blu-Ray] Stephen Kessler

Vegas Vacation [Blu-Ray] Stephen Kessler
5
Back in the early days of Saturday Night Live, Chevy Chase, along with many of the other original cast members, were quite funny. He made a name for himself with his acuity for physical comedy, along with the various, often dimwitted or erratic, characters he portrayed. Making the move from television to film, his National Lampoon's Vacation was by no means comedic excellence but was extremely successful for its time, becoming a cult hit in its own right, spawning three sequels. And while European Vacation and Christmas Vacation were quite well received, the fourth and, as of now, final installment, Vegas Vacation was almost unanimously panned. This time out, the Griswold family is off to Las Vegas for their usual familial shenanigans. As usual, Clark (Chase) is planning the entire vacation for his family—wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), son Rusty (Ethan Embry) and daughter Audrey (Marisol Nichols)—without a great deal of input from them. Upon arriving in Vegas, after engaging in some broad, overly cartoonish physical humour at the Hoover Dam, the family splits up, engaging in their own Vegas experience, collectively missing the point of a family vacation. Clark inevitably becomes obsessed with gambling, while Ellen develops a playful flirtation with Wayne Newton. Rusty becomes a Vegas hot shot thanks to a fake I.D and Audrey cuts loose as an exotic dancer, something she learns from her white trash cousin. Since this is a Vacation movie, Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) makes an appearance, contrarily acting as a savior for Clark, while delivering his usual over-the-top crazed trailer park hick routine. As is the case with the entire franchise, Chase's character plays as a satire of the all-American Dad, meaning well despite having instincts and urges that contradict the ideal of the wholesome nuclear family. Unfortunately this time around, the gags and one-liners don't produce a feeling of sentimentality or any real comedy. That's not to say that the film is completely dead in the water, but most of the funnier scenes happen when Chase isn't on the screen or the corny, omnipresent soundtrack and Saturday morning cartoon sound effects aren't imposing on the narrative. Stepping up this time out are Nichols and Embry, who inject Vegas with much-needed youthfulness in their roles as the Griswold children, managing to enliven this otherwise dull comedy. Seeing Rusty schmooze with men four times his age as he delves into the high roller lifestyle produces several laughs, as does seeing Audrey evolve into a total slut despite her daddy's little girl image. In contrast, the segment of Clark getting lost inside the Hoover Dam, plugging leaks with bubblegum and ending up on a hydro line is well past the point of being ridiculous. It becomes apparent that the writers didn't have a lot to go on with Vegas, not really capturing any of the original energy, resulting in plenty of filler material to fluff out the 90-minute run-time. The Blu-ray doesn't contain any special features, which isn't much of a surprise considering that this installment is easily the least marketable and memorable of the entire series. (Warner)