Movie Review: Vegas Vacation (1997)

Synopsis: After receiving a big bonus and time off at work, Clark Griswold surprises his family with a trip to Las Vegas, where he hopes to have one final vacation with his growing kids and re-marry his wife, Ellen. However, when Clark visits the casino and becomes obsessed with gambling, he risks losing his family as well as all their money.

Who's in it? The movie stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Ethan Embry and Marisol Nichols.

Review: My wife, kids and I participated in a 4th of July parade yesterday and, after being in the hot sun (two of us walking the whole way) for a couple hours, we were ready to take a break when we got home. As we relaxed on our couch, eating lunch, my wife and I came across this movie and, even though we've seen it countless times before, decided to watch it again. As it turns out, it was a good choice.

Other than the first film, this is my favorite of the Family Vacation movie franchise. This is mostly because, once Clark (Chase) gets the gambling bug, it's hard to tell what will happen next. Will he lose his family's money? Or, will he finally end up on a winning streak and bail himself out at the last minute? And, unlike many other films in this genre, the ending wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be.

One thing that really helps this movie is the supporting cast. This includes Wayne Newton (playing himself), who manages to steal his scenes, especially when he plays himself off as being extremely lonely and maybe a little insane. And, of course, Cousin Eddie (Quaid) manages to carry a few of the scenes himself and even, at times, manages to be the surprising voice of wisdom.

I think the thing that really wins me over about this movie is the way it gives the entire franchise some closure. The Griswold kids (Embry and Nichols) take another step into adulthood, Clark and Ellen (D'Angelo) survive yet another threat to their marriage and ultimately make it stronger. And, even Clark and Eddie end up bonding at the end. I've seen a lot of other film franchises end without making as much of an effort as this movie did and I think filmmakers should pay attention to it as a result.

Final Opinion: The first movie is still the best. But, this one is almost as good and is worth taking the time to watch if you haven't seen it.

My Grade: A


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