Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vacation Retrospective: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure (2003)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure
Director: Nick Marck
Starring:  Randy Quaid, Miriam Flynn, Dana Barron, Jake Thomas, Fred Willard, Ed Asner, Sung Hi Lee, Eric Idle
Not Rated

Why the hell did I do this to myself?
      ~Brandon Peters

In this edition of "F*ck This Movie", we're looking at National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure.  As if the title wasn't a dead giveaway, this movie is an absolute disaster.  I put off watching this as long as I could until I finally had to, in order to complete the retrospective and move on.  I didn't go into this expecting anything great.  I was expecting it to be pretty lame or bad.  My oh my were my expectations set insanely high.  I never imagined I would be sitting down to watch one of the worst movies I've ever seen.  There is nothing worse for me than watching a comedy that never works.  Bad production aside, when you're not laughing at the jokes, its just a bad time all around.  Give me a crummy horror film or ridiculously bad action movie and I can at least get some giggles or find an appreciation. 
I'm gonna start with this title.  Sequel or spin-off, this is the fifth entry in the series.  I honestly believe there are people out there, and a LOT of them at that, that don't know or realize that Christmas Vacation is the third part of a film series.  I think a lot of people actually think its just its own movie and there's nothing else.  Or, there's people too dumb to put 2 and 2 together and realize its a sequel to a movie they saw many years before.  This movie feeds off that fact too, as they have Eddie wearing a hat that he had only worn in one installment before DESPITE them going to a tropical paradise.  This title is a mess.  Essentially this is Vacation Part III Part II.  You don't have to use a numeral to make this work either (since this series had never used them before this one).  How about just Cousin Eddie's Christmas Vacation?  This also saves the film from having the offputting subtitle of Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure which just screams "DANGER!!!" to any prospective viewer.
NLCV2CEIA, as I will refer to that dumb long and stupid title has jokes with punchlines you can see miles away.  The jokes they tell are old, tired and probably weren't even funny during a time where they were even considered fresh.  I've always said there's no use in taking side gag 1-note characters from television or movies and spinning them off.  This is a shining example why.  There's nothing to them aside from their schtick.  And when you attempt add depth or a compassion it feels really forced and uncomfortable to watch.  This is why spinning off Kramer from Seinfeld or Dwight from The Office is a bad idea (thankfully it never happened), but someone more human and maybe not has belly laughing funny will work like a Frasier Crane.  There was at no time during this I could even crack a smile.  It was pure torture from the moment anyone spoke.
Speaking of, we are first introduced in this movie to Clark Griswold III or "Third" as he's referred to.  And damn this kid cannot act.  His bad acting isn't assisted by the face that this is a terrible character on paper with atrocious lines of dialogue he needs to spew out throughout the film.  To compliment his crappy performance we get Sung Hi Lee as the family guide on the island.  We get a great wooden delivery of lines and jokes from her, but at least for us males...she's attractive.  Dana Barron returns and reprises her role as Audrey in this one and I couldn't help but feel so bad for her watching this.  Of all the movies in this series she got to come back to its this?  Poor girl.  She does her best with this utter garbage material and seems to be putting forth an effort, but this script and production is just too awful that there's no reward for her.  Also popping up we get a callback to European Vacation with Eric Idle returning to reprise his role.  I feel bad for him, too.  You get brought back...FOR THIS ONE?  Poor guy.
The production value of NLCV2CEIA only enhances the cheap and crappiness of the film.  There's absolutely no believability in any location here, be it interior or exterior.  It all looks like really cheap sets.  These sets are so poor they make sitcoms like Gilligan's Island and Step By Step look like they were shot on location.  And the effects?  Holy crap they were bad.  I know this is a TV movie but damn.  It made Sharknado appear as wow'ing as Pacific Rim was.  This whole movie, your eyes just don't believe anything you're seeing and there's absolute no sense of escaping into any of this. These effects, especially in the fishing/boating sequence are beyond terrible.  So much bad green screen work that you can just tell this production was nowhere even near a garden hose let alone a full body of water.
I'm really surprised I was able to write this much about it.  I was really thinking this piece would wind up one whining, bitching paragraph.  Instead, you got a full on piece from me.  I hope none of you have ever seen this movie and never will.  I wish this had been a "chore" to watch.  I didn't enjoy a single frame of this movie.  It kept egging me on minute after minute wanting me to dislike it more.  Its just a series of stupid situation after stupid situation that is loosely strung together by a rather stupid plot.  I never watched a Vacation movie wanting to know what following the life of Eddie was like, nor did I want a movie about it.  This movie stings and has made me happy to close the book on this retrospective.  Have any of you survived this movie?  Please share below.

Next Time: Rankings! Spoiler: This piece of shit is finishing dead last and beyond!

There was no song of note from this movie...but i think this is a fitting companion for the garbage I just sat through

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