"National Lampoon's Holiday Reunion"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Bryan Cranston as WOODROW SNIDER
Judge Reinhold as MITCH SNIDER
Penelope Ann Miller as PAULINE SNIDER
Hallie Todd as JILL SNIDER
Meghan Ory as ALLISON SNIDER
Calum Worthy as DANNY SNIDER
Britt Irvin as TWIG SNIDER
Reece Thompson as HARLEY SNIDER
Antony Holland as UNCLE PHIL
Directed by: Neal Israel
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This movie was a desperate shot in the dark for National Lampoon. Not too long ago, they produced “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2.” But this sequel of a sequel didn’t exactly keep the original cast. It was spearheaded by Randy Quaid as Clark Griswold’s white trash cousin.
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Now, National Lampoon has even sunk lower than Randy Quaid headlining. They dug up Judge Reinhold, who is rather lumpy looking in a Patrick Swayze sort of way. They’re desperately trying to cling to the success of the “Vacation” movies but can’t even bring themselves to call it a “Vacation” film.
Reinhold plays Mitch Snider, the “anesthesiologist to the stars.” He has the same Clark Griswold attitude with his belief in family fun amid total dysfunction. The only problem is that Judge Reinhold is no Chevy Chase in this part. (Heck, even Chevy Chase was no Chevy Chase in the last disastrous “Vacation” film “Vegas Vacation.”)
This film tells the ultra-predictable story of the dysfunctional yet rich family that clashes with their dysfunctional yet poor counterparts, yet eventually bond and learn to like each other and become a family again. Mitch gets a letter from his long, lost cousin Woodrow, asking him to bring the family to his place in Idaho for Thanksgiving.
Mitch, who doesn’t realize that his family would rather spend Thanksgiving with their own friends, agrees and drags the wife and kids (and their gaseous neighbor) to the sticks to meet his cousins. At first, they’re horrified, but eventually they get to like each other.
This made-for-TV mess seems to be cast by the “Who’s Got a Mortgage Payment Due” agency. I pity Judge Reinhold because after the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies dried up, so did his career. But it blows my mind that Penelope Ann Miller made it into this film as well.
The saving grace of the cast is Hallie Todd, who is trying to build her credits now that “Lizzie McGuire” has gone the way of the dinosaur and Disney isn’t exactly handing out recording contracts to anyone else from that cast. (And besides, I’ve always had a thing for Lizzie’s mom’s sexy turn as a Pamela Anderson look-alike in this film was nice to see.)
Sometimes a bad movie can be saved by decent extra features on the DVD. Not so in this case. The DVD itself is virtually worthless with nothing extra to add to the presentation than both full screen and widescreen versions of the film on flip sides.
It taunts the viewer with a “Special Features” selection on the main menu, but when you click that, all you get is a promo for the FOX television show “Arrested Development.” Now, I like “Arrested Development” as much as the next guy, but this is hardly that special of a feature.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Full screen (1.33:1) and widescreen (1.78:1). Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.