Vegas Vacation

on February 14, 1997 by Pat Kramer
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   Although the Griswold family adventures have always had a flair for mind-numbing slapstick humor, "Vegas Vacation," the latest in the formulaic comedies starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, is so far from funny it's actually painful to sit through. Perhaps "Vegas Vacation's" tired writing and old gags are due in part to the newness of the medium for both director Stephen Kessler and screenwriter Elisa Bell, both of whom make feature debuts here.
   This fourth in the "Vacation" series finds Chase's character, Clark Griswold, taking his family to Las Vegas to spend "quality time" together. Shortly after arriving, Griswold turns into a compulsive gambler, throwing away the family's savings at blackjack playing against a steely-eyed dealer ("The Princess Bride's" Wallace Shawn). As the dealer continues to win, Griswold feels his manhood is at stake; regaining it becomes Griswold's ultimate challenge throughout this tedious, lackluster movie.
   Griswold comes across as pathetic, which is a death-knell even for a comic hero; even Randy Quaid's reprise of the imbecilic Cousin Eddie does nothing to elevate the laugh-factor. The only scenes that do provide a glimpse of the original hilarity of this series are those involving D'Angelo's Ellen Griswold, who becomes star-struck by sugary Vegas headliner Wayne Newton, joining him onstage for an impromptu duet. Further scenes with Newton are also worthy of a chuckle as they immortalize and satirize the glitzy but shallow lifestyle of the rich and famous. New additions to the cast include Ethan Embry ("That Thing You Do") as Rusty and newcomer Marisol Nichols as Audrey, providing some comical moments of teenage angst. On the whole, however, "Vegas Vacation" loses its momentum very early on. A town like Las Vegas would seem to provide plenty of opportunities for satire, but this watered-down sequel rolls snake-eyes this time around. Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid and Miriam Flynn. Directed by Stephen Kessler. Written by Elisa Bell, Produced by Jerry Weintraub and R.J. Louis. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated PG for sensuality, language and thematic elements. Running time: 95 min
Tags: sequel, Griswold, vacation, National Lampoon, family, Las Vegas, gambling, slapstick, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Wayne Newton, Miriam Flynn, Ethan Embry, Marisol Nichols, Stephen Kessler, Jerry Weintraub
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