Picks and Pans Review: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2

UPDATED 12/22/2003 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/22/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sat., Dec. 20, 8 p.m. ET)
COMEDY

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Was Randy Quaid too morose for you in The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire? Well, to heck with the middle-aged angst of that defunct CBS series. Now NBC turns Quaid loose in a TV movie that gives him yet another opportunity to play dumbbell Eddie from National Lampoon's Vacation, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Vegas Vacation. The character's stupidity knows no bounds, but the laughs are as scarce as pre-Christmas parking spaces at the mall.

After Eddie receives notice that he'll be laid off from his job as a test subject at a nuclear research facility, his chimpanzee labmate bites him on the bum and the boss (Fred Willard) offers him a free South Seas vacation to ease the pain and forestall a lawsuit. Joining Eddie on the tropical getaway are his loyal wife, Catherine (Miriam Flynn); relatively intelligent son Clark (Jake Thomas), known to the family as Third; lovelorn cousin Audrey (Dana Barron); cantankerous uncle Nick (Ed Asner, seen in a better light as Elf's Santa); and flatulent dog Snots. Of the human supporting players, Asner has the most demeaning role, a dirty old man dedicated to the sexual harassment of the pretty tour guide (Sung Hi Lee).

The idyll turns into Gilligan's Island when the vacationers have themselves a little shipwreck for Christmas. Though the slapstick grows more and more labored (picture Quaid in too-tight shorts, hunting wild boar with a sharp stick), Asner does get one good chance to spread holiday anti-cheer. "We're all alive and we're all together—that's worth celebrating," Catherine says. Nick gives her a withering look and growls, "You're pretty damn easy to please." Too bad he then asks the tour guide for a full-body massage.

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