November 19, 2009

The Griswolds Return... In an Ad

National Lampoon's Vacation, the original classic, is one of my favorite comedies. The sequels got worse and worse and til the franchise bottomed out with the straight-to-video clunker Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure that, for obvious reasons, I've never seen, but juding by it's title it sounds awful, shameless and embarrassing. Because of the sad state of the series, I had no ambition to see it revived. After the woeful, poorly written and poorly made Vegas Vacation, the franchise was essentially dead (and that was before the strangely titled Christmas Vacation 2, a direct sequel to the third film in the series that was made following the fourth film and is strangely titled part two, but that's neither here no there.) However, Chevy Chase, who hasn't really been funny since the late 1980's, has consistently been delivering the goods on the underated new comedy series Community so there's reason to believe Clark Griswold can still deliver the laughs.

Today came news that the Griswolds will in fact return, but not in another ill-fated sequel, instead, they will resurface in a Super Bowl ad campaign for HomeAway Vaction Rentals. Both Chevy Chase and Bevery D'Angelo, who played his wife Ellen in the series, will reprise their roles. D'Angelo, who's been seen recently on Entourage where she plays Ari Gold's partner, looks very different today then the woman we remember as Ellen Griswold. It should be interesting to see her step back into the role. Hopefully it's funny as well. No word on whether the kids, Rusty and Audrey will be featured in the campaign though because no actor can really claim to have "owned" the part, that casting is less crucial. The Griswold kids were recast in almost all of the sequels (only Dana Barron, who appeared in the original, in 1983, and returned to the series twenty years later for Christmas Vacation 2, has reprised the role.) It's really kind of irrelevant, the children were only a source of laughs in the first film when young Rusty Griswold was played by the brilliant Anthony Michael Hall. Hall, in the two years after Vacation, went on a great run starring in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science before joining the cast of Saturday Night Live as a 17 year old. (Then left the show a year later to check into rehab.)

It would be fantastic to see Anthony Michael Hall back in the role again for this ad campaign but I suspect that won't happen. Last month /Film reported that Fred Dobkin, the director of Wedding Crashers, has been hired to produce and possibly direct a dreaded "reboot" of the Vacation series that would focus on a now adult Rusty Griswold and his vacation road trip with his own family with Chevy Chase and Bevery D'Angelo returning as grandparents. Never was Anthony Michael Hall's name mentioned despite his excellent comedy pedigree. I've never understood why someone with his incredible delivery and timing hasn't done any comedy work in over twenty years.

But what the hell do I know?