Volume 90, Issue 81

Tuesday, February 18, 1997



Back for another getaway

Vegas Vacation
Directed by Stephen Kessler
Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid
At Famous Players 6, 7:25 and 9:30 p.m.

The Griswolds don't disappoint Vacation fans as they go for their fourth attempt at the perfect family vacation.

Clark (Chevy Chase) decides to take the Griswolds to Vegas – "The number-one family destination in America" – for one last trip before the kids get too old. While in Vegas, he plans to renew his wedding vows with Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) for their 20th anniversary. That's the premise and if you've seen the other three Vacation movies, you can probably guess the rest: Clark tries really hard to make the vacation perfect, everything goes wrong, Clark freaks out, lots of running around, the vacation is almost ruined and then there's a happy ending.

A fresh augmentation to the recycled plot is the actors playing the Griswold children Rusty and Audrey. Rusty is played by Ethan Embry (That Thing You Do!) and newcomer Marisol Nicols plays Audrey. The children are much older and are now in their late teens. This difference becomes quite clear as they explore the City of Sin without mom and dad. Audrey becomes a go-go dancer and Rusty wins big under the alias of Nick Pappagiorgio.

Vacation fans won't be disappointed with the recurring characters. Randy Quaid isn't as brilliant as he has been in recent films Independence Day or Kingpin but he successfully portrays Cousin Eddie, the ultimate symbol of American white trash. Christie Brinkley almost steals the show by making only her second film appearance ever, returning as "the woman in the red Ferrari."

Director Stephen Kessler makes his feature-film debut and he doesn't have the zip that Harold Ramis did in the original – but let's not kid ourselves – a trained monkey could direct this stuff.

The movie successfully captures the essence of Vegas: the glitz, the glamour, the greed and the all-you-can-eat buffets. The image is reinforced with cameos from magicians Siegfried & Roy and lounge star Wayne Newton, who tries to woo Ellen away from Clark. But the town is epitomized by one of the more entertaining supporting characters, Wallace Shawn (We're No Angels) who plays the blackjack dealer from Hell.

The movie is more dependent on sight gags than its predecessors, but that seems to be the current trend in Hollywood. The laughs are natural and they don't have to be forced, but if you're in a really sour puss mood, wait for a better day.

When it comes right down to it, you probably already know if you're going to like this movie. If you get all excited and giddy when you hear the song "Holiday Road" you're probably going to like it. If you're looking for a direct comparison, then it's more like the first two Vacation movies than the Christmas installment.

If you did enjoy the first installments, this is definitely a must see. And if you do take another trip down "Holiday Road," make sure to tell them Nick Pappgiorgio sent you.

–Dave Tompkins

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997