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Case Number 06031

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National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure

Warner Bros. // 2003 // 83 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 21st, 2005

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All Rise...

It's official: Judge David Johnson would rather undergo minimally invasive surgery than sit through another Vacation movie.

The Charge

The Khmer Rouge generated more laughs than this movie.

Opening Statement

National Lampoon, intent on defecating on its one-time respectable commodities, issues this pointless and brain-dead sequel. Hoping to get some extra mileage out of their long-since departed Vacation series, the filmmakers dredge up a few familiar faces and plunk them in the middle of this plotless, unfunny bedsore of a movie.

Facts of the Case

Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid, Kingpin) and his family have been living a life of freeloading off of his niece Audrey Griswold (Dana Barron, the original Audrey from National Lampoon's Vacation). He and his wife Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and their son "Third" (Jake Thompson) have had a bad run lately: Eddie lost his job in a nuclear-testing laboratory to a monkey, the house's plumbing exploded, money is scarce, Third is depressed because he's surrounded by idiots.

But the family hits the jackpot when Eddie is attacked by a lab monkey and the company offers the family an all-expenses-paid trip to the tropics to avoid a lawsuit. To make matters more interesting and knee-slapping high-larious, Eddie's crazy, horny Uncle Nick (Ed Asner, slumming something fierce) shows up in time to go on the trip.

Once there, the family soaks up the sun and takes in the gorgeous sights of the island, including their tour guide, Muka Laka Miki (Sung Hi Lee). While on a fishing trip, Eddie catches a giant shark that drags the boat out to sea, abandoning them on a deserted island. What follows is an unrelated set of laugh-free comedy set-pieces, until eventually Eddie and company make it off the island. The end. Oh, Merry Christmas, too.

The Evidence

I went into this flick with low, low expectations, hoping that the National Lampoon crew would be able to exceed them, and I wouldn't walk away hating myself.

I was wrong.

This movie sucks so hard. Oh, so hard. Not a single laugh escaped my wired-shut jaw. Not a giggle, not a chortle, not a smirk. The filmmakers tried. They threw in slapstick and one-liners and sight gags and CGI and crazy monkeys and Fred Willard and Eric Idle and dirty old men, but to no avail; the end result was as funny as a pipe wrench to the testicles.

The main reason for this movie's failure is the whole premise of shaping it around Eddie. Granted, the Griswold saga has certainly run its course, but better to let these franchises die with a shred of dignity (although a case can be made that Vegas Vacation did adequate enough besmirching).

The character of Cousin Eddie worked because he was a foil. He was funny because of (a) his juxtaposition with relatively normal people and (b) the barbs Clark threw at him. A piñata is fun because you can hit it. But take away the hitting part, and there's nothing amusing about it anymore. The same with Eddie. Quaid does the hapless, ignorant white trash bit decently enough, but the fact is the character, judged by his own merits, just is not funny. The bottom line is that Eddie is not a suitable character to carry his own film.

That leaves the rest of the cast to shoulder the burden. Sorry…not happening. Ed Asner just isn't interested, Jake Thompson has trouble delivering his lines, Miriam Flynn's Catherine was always just a background actor in the previous films (so there's not much here to mine), Sung Hi Lee is the requisite hot object of lust, but also contributes the right ethnicity to prompt some tasteless "mispronouncing-the-foreigner's-name" jokes, and Dana Barron's Audrey seems to be included solely because she once starred in a Vacation movie.

That being said, even if the greatest actors ever assembled had to deal with this script, the movie still would be balls. There is no story here. Just an assembly of comedy-starved sequences.

Look at Eddie and Catherine grappling with that faulty plumbing! There's water everywhere! They must be soaked! (Anyone? Anyone? Hello?)

Hey, Eddie is getting attacked by that monkey! Monkeys are hilarious! (Anyone? Anyone? Excuse me, is this thing on?)

Whoa! Eddie caught a shark and now it's dragging him and the boat all around the ocean! The physics don't seem to make any sense, and Eddie is hanging on to the boat with his toes, but still, that's funny! (Anyone out there? Hello?!)

Okay, I've devoted enough manpower to this movie. Trust me, you don't want to have anything to do with this, unless you like comedies that won't make you laugh, and characters you'd like to see eaten by mountain lions.

The widescreen transfer is okay, sporting that TV-movie feel. Despite a few patches where the look seems washed out, for the most part the colors hold up, especially in the deserted island scene. The sound works—a 2.0 stereo mix—but doesn't do anything else of note.

Extras include theatrical trailers for all the Vacation movies, which is just a painful reminder of how far these movies have fallen. Finally, a photo/video gallery documenting the making of the film, narrated by the producer and the director, offers some light-hearted insight into this exercise in psychological torture.

Closing Statement

Maybe National Lampoon should turn its filmmaking energies toward the direction of educational dental hygiene videos. This comedy thing just ain't working.

The Verdict

The accused is found guilty on all counts and thrown into a burlap sack, weighted down with rocks, and tossed into the closest body of water.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 75
Extras: 75
Acting: 30
Story: 20
Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Bad
• Christmas
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Outtakes Commentary
• Trailers


• IMDb

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