Oh, how that lovable Griswold family has fallen. The first two movies were terrific, I thought. The third one, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, was not nearly as good. This is the first one to drop the National Lampoon brand. There is only one good thing I can say about it: I heard it was terrible, so my expectations were so low that I actually found a few parts that I sort of liked. In other words, there were a few laughs, though they were widely spaced.
Chevy Chase is awful. He should have studied his earlier performances. In the earlier ones, Clark Griswold is a rather happy-go-lucky goofus, and only becomes a demonic obsessive when his plans for a perfect vacation are thwarted. Here, he is manic all the time, widening his eyes madly to no comedic effect at all. The screenwriter has managed to excise all the charm of the character, and the situations, and replace it with stupid excess. The son putting a quarter in a slot and winning a Viper is mildly funny. Having that happen three more times is just dumb. There’s nothing funny about Clark pissing away $22,600. All gambling addicts do that. And for some reason, someone thought it was funny that major Wayne Newton fan Ellen Griswold should be inexplicably irresistible to Wayne himself.
Sadly, one of the funniest things left from the original is horrible Cousin Eddie (the really horrible, and apparently insane, Randy Quaid) and his ability to be totally out of place wherever he goes. Eddie flapping through a casino in swim fins and a diving mask is fairly funny … and if that’s the funniest thing you’ve got, you are in deep trouble.