National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)


The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster. (IMDb)
Something about this Vacation installment’s family Christmas/home for the holidays premise grounds and glues it together unlike any of the others, and puts it a step above. Finally solid acting for Russ and Audrey helps too-and with Chase in his best turn as the ambitious and high-strung Clark, and D’Angelo solid again as his pacifier, the family has consistently humourous chemistry dotted with some great quirky cameos that makes great use of the relatable Christmas chaos setting.
7/10 (Good)

Vacation (2015)


Rusty Griswold takes his own family on a road trip to “Walley World” in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons. (IMDb)
No, it’s not a particularly clever comedy (the “what could go wrong?” formula provides most of the jokes–usually telegraphed and juvenile) and the family bonding/marital drama sub-scenes are bland (family vs. family brawl and roller-coaster sing-along–regrettably cut off–aside), but so help me, I still laughed quite a bit (a few highlights: Day’s self-destructive rafting guide, Rusty as a terrible wing-man for his son, classic Clark fumbling a guitar, hot springs mix-up, police stand-off).
6.5/10 (Alright)


Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)


A malfunctioning time machine at a ski resort takes a man back to 1986 with his two friends and nephew, where they must relive a fateful night and not change anything to make sure the nephew is born. (IMDb)
Despite having the always fun time-travel trope, the plot feels pretty lame (it’s mostly just dumb party schtick with girls and booze), and a generally comedically flat lead foursome doesn’t help the entertainment value. There are a few good jokes (Glover’s recurring missing arm gag is great; the completely unexplained “Great White Buffalo” is a delightful bit of nonsense) and the usually annoying Lou’s manipulation of the past at the end is fun, but it’s a mostly mediocre movie otherwise.
5.5/10 (Poor)

Caddyshack (1980)


An exclusive golf course has to deal with a brash new member and a destructive dancing gopher. (IMDb)
With only the most minimal of plots, Caddyshack is more a series of comedy sketches set on a golf course than anything else, so when they don’t hit home, it feels pretty bland, but when they do, it’s quite entertaining–and with a great set of characters (Chase’s mellow Ty, Dangerfield’s obnoxious Al, Knight’s uppity Smails, Murray’s offbeat Carl) it usually is. Smails’ tantrums and Carl’s strange ramblings (his long scene with Ty is uproarious) are two particular standout aspects here.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Vegas Vacation (1997)

In the fourth outing for the vacation franchise, the Griswolds have to survive Vegas fever when they go to Las Vegas for a fun family vacation. (IMDb)
Fairly bland with only a few redeeming scenes and storylines–Russ’ escalating escapades with a fake ID being one of them. Chase seems to have lost his spark as Clark, who is less likeable and less funny than ever before, and Quaid with Cousin Eddie just feels like he’s trying too hard to mimic his famous character from days gone by. The whole movie feels too old and too tired: a half-hearted attempt at re-enacting the best aspects of the Vacation franchise, with a lame ending to boot.
4.5/10 (Bad)

National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985)

The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues. (IMDb)
Good for some laughs, but they are too few and far between. The memorable scenes (see the hotel room mix-up in England and the case of mistaken identity in Germany) are sparse amidst many slow and awkward ones where the humour tries but always falls just a bit short. The bad-guy-chase side-plot, meanwhile, feels cheap and does little to spice up the standard and uninspired mishap-laden plot. Altogether, the movie fails to ever pick up steam and consequently feels disjointed and boring.
5/10 (Poor)

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

The Griswold family’s cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated. (IMDb)
Definitely some laugh-out-loud moments, mostly thanks to Clark Griswold’s manic drive and ridiculous stubbornness, but they are too often separated by awkwardly slow scenes with bad attempts at humour. Poor joke execution aside, the 80s Americana road-trip cinematography is nice, and the film does well at building up the mishap-filled “Murphy’s Law” plot to a fittingly nuts-o climax.
6/10 (Mediocre)