National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2 is all about Cousin Eddie's own Christmas vacation. So, what's a vacation like without the original Griswold couple and the many incarnations of their children?
Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) is back, and this time, he's a guinea pig at an atomic research lab. But he gets fired because he's not as smart as the monkey. This is one of many jobs he's lost since the foreclosure on his farm. Right now, he, his wife, Catherine (Miriam Flynn), and his son, pre-teen Clark Griswold Johnson (Jake Thomas) are house-sitting for Audrey Griswold (Dana Barron—who breaks the cardinal rule and reprises her role from the FIRST movie as Chevy Chase's daughter). In one of many weak attempts at slapstick humor, the plumbing breaks in the house, and completely irrelevant scenes keep flashing back to the house constantly sprouting leaks while the family is on vacation. And speaking of the vacation, this is how it comes about. Cousin Eddie returns to the lab to beg for his job back—and gets bit in the butt by the monkey. So he's given a free trip as a bribe to not press charges. And so, he and his family are off to the South Seas for the holidays. But before they can leave, Audrey comes home, distraught after discovering her boyfriend is married. So she needs a vacation, too. And so does Uncle Nick (Ed Asner) who appears at the front door when his wife leaves him for a deliveryman. Which makes this the only Vacation film with a tragic ending—a tragic ending to Ed Asner's career that is. WHAT was he thinking?
They are all off to an island in the South Seas, with their family dog, a Rottweiler whose peeing and farting are supposed to be a real laugh riot throughout the film, along with the ridiculous plumbing problem back home. So, before long, the family has a boating accident. On board is sexy tour guide Muka Laka Miki (Sung Hi Lee). And when the boat crashes and the group becomes stranded on a deserted island, Uncle Nick spends the rest of the film as the dirty old man trying to get some from her. And young Clark Griswold obsesses over her while also thinking his father an idiot. And the idiot—Cousin Eddie, that is—spends the movie in tiny bathing suits, trying to hunt food and do other odd jobs that just create little setups for him to make stupid faces. But most important is when the family tries to bring Christmas to the tropical island. Not much Christmas here. Although my interest in Vacation movies pretty much ended after I saw the first one in the theaters, I would practically consider the original Christmas Vacation a holiday classic compared to this tragedy.
The 1:78:1 aspect ratio is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The skin tones are natural, and the print is quite clean. There are sufficient color levels and black contrasts. The image is mostly sharp, but it's not consistent, and at times, edge enhancement leads to softness.
The Dolby 2.0 track kicks in with some Pro Logic, which brings mono sound into the rear speakers. Oddly enough, more use seems to be made of rear surround than left/right channels, which only offer occasional separation. The bass is clean, if perhaps a bit too high frequency to serve its real purpose. The overall audio track is clear.
There are really poor quality trailers for all four Vacation movies starring Chevy Chase (what a cruel tease). Language options include subtitles only, in English, Spanish or French. Chapter breaks come in at 27. And finally there's a 9 minute featurette called "National Lampoon's Christmas Card," with behind the scenes stuff, outtakes, and comments by the director and the writer. Of course, the movie is so bad, how can we really care about this?
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2 is a perfect example of a movie studio trying to squeeze the life out of a franchise. And they succeeded this time, because this film has forever killed the series. It's not a Christmas movie at all, and it's not a worthy Vacation. Avoid.