Vegas Vacation Movie (1997)


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Perhaps the funniest film of the late 90s, Vegas Vacation, has continued to entertain its fans with some tremendous coming relief, thanks to the National Lampoon’s efforts. While it may be argued that it is not as hilarious as Europe Vacation, Vacation, or Christmas Vacation, the movie still packs up a punch and is guaranteed to entertain with some great comedy.

Clark earns a massive bonus at work for his efforts in coming up with an original food preservative. His wife decides that the best way to spend the money is to go for a vacation. Trust the kids Audrey (Marisol Nichols) and Rusty (Ethan Embry) to biker about where to go, so the family decides that it’s Vegas.

On their way to Vegas, the family encounters many mishaps that nearly tear them asunder for good. The husband takes to gambling like a magnet, Ellen becomes Wayne Newton’s fancy, while Rusty takes to gambling and thrives, albeit under Nicholas Pappagiogio. Audrey takes on dancing after a short meeting with Cousin Vicki. And then there’s Eddie, another Cousin, who can only be described as twiddle dumber. In the film, he follows Clark everywhere in the casino as he sips a generous pint of Busch Light.

While it pays to cast Wallace Shawn as the dealer who taunts and defeats Clark, the film keeps going back to this notion without really achieving much. The two kids are entertaining as expected, although the actors themselves bring more to the table. As usual, Embry is likable – the dorky teenager that the audience is most likely to root for. Nichols is Audrey’s sexualized version, although she retains her sweet nature.

While they are fresh faces in the series, Bob and Bell Ducasy bring some familiarity with the film. For the audience, the biggest plus is when Clark, a workaholic, claims that he no longer recognizes his children – the camera focuses on the two kids a while longer for dramatic effect.

It’s not clear whether we are meant to see the arcs roll out over four different films. However, the storyline in this particular film is somewhat mature. It’s easy to imagine the two kids leaving home to start their own lives, which means this will be the last chance Clark will ever have to impose a fatherly presence.

Sadly, it unbelievable that there isn’t an iota of the con to Clark’s fatherly lessons’ depth. That said, his efforts can be interpreted as a caution to kids to not gamble, although the film has a way of going around this lesson. Rusty’s incredible luck and the father’s eventual recovery of the money he had lost are devoid of reality – things happen at the script writer’s whim.

That said, this version of Vacation is full of humor, much more than the previous ones. In many instances, when a plot gets to this point in a series, things become cynical, and characters take things to the extreme. Vegas Vacation managed to stay on track. The scriptwriter is continuously aware of what works and does his best to capitalize on those things.

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