If you need an abject lesson on how to milk a franchise until there’s nothing left but a burnt out lifeless husk, I present to you Christmas Vacation 2.
While not universally loved, the original Vacation had a lot going for it. Chevy Chase played the goofy Clark Griswold perfectly and his long suffering family held the series for a number of sequels spanning almost two decades. In it’s prime with European Vacation, the original Christmas Vacation in the 80’s, then scraping the bottom of the comedy barrel for the last drop in Vegas Vacation. The series still had some common elements that kept it going, namely Clark and Ellen Griswold and the kids Rusty and Audrey.
However, Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure seems to have taken the worst and least appealing of all the elements of the series and stranded them in a deserted island. Is anyone still reading?
Did you know that throughout all the Vacation movies the kids were never played by the same actors? Me either. Let the franchise die in peace already. The only highlight of this movie is seeing Dana Barron reprise her role as Audrey, 20 years on.
Since this pointless waste of plastic was made for TV it would be laughable to quote an original theatrical aspect ratio but the video transfer on this disc is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is surprisingly enhanced for widescreen displays.
The transfer isn’t as bad as you would expect given this made-for-TV production, colour saturation is perfect, shadow details is fine and blacks are likewise excellent. The only fault in the transfer would be the variation between the picture overly soft at times and overly grainy at others.
The audio choices on this disc are limited to a Dolby Digitial 2 track effort which is typically flat and dull when compared to what a 5.1 channel presentation would be. The majority of the sound comes from the front and middle speakers with the surround and sub woofer channels getting very little action, if any.
There are (again surprisingly) a couple of extras on this disc. First up we have National Lampoons Christmas Card Commentary. Imagine my horror when I glanced at the special features menu and realised that I would have to watch the whole movie again with a commentary. Dread set in but being the trooper that I am, pushed the play button anyway. To my delight I found that this feature was only a short (nine minutes) slide show of scenes from the movie commented by writer Matty Simmons. How this movie can be as unfunny as it is when penned by the same writer as all the other vacations is a total mystery but the need for beer money does strange things to people. Matty must be really hard up.
The only other extra on this disc is some token trailers for Vacation and Chrismas Vacation. If you rented this DVD looking for a laugh you will likely get more from watching these trailers than watching the feature - you have been warned.
Overall, if dog fart jokes and groan inducing slapstick humour is your thing this may be worth a watch but this movie is an insult to the Vacation franchise and if Chevy Chase was dead he’d be rolling in his grave.