You guys are growing up so fast, I hardly recognize you anymore!
-- Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase)
Before the Griswolds head out on yet another vacation, Clark speaks these words to his children, a sly (for this movie, anyway) jab at the fact that the Griswold kids have been played by four different sets of actors in four different films. He might as well have been speaking for the series itself. Watching this movie again for the first time since its theatrical release, I hardly recognize Vegas Vacation as a Vacation film. If European Vacation was a disappointment, Vegas Vacation is a crying shame -- a sad, laughless cash-in devoid of wit, charm, and signs that anyone is doing anything more than grabbing a paycheck. It's the kind of bad that casts a negative light on the good Vacation films that came before. In short, it sucks.
I still remember the day I went to see Vegas Vacation. At this time I had seen the trilogy (particularly the first and third entries) countless times, but Vegas would be the first I saw in a theater. I am not ashamed to say I was excited. Within about five minutes, I was slumped in my seat and was checking my watch. Why do the makers of movie franchises do this? If you've got a beloved property on your hands, why not put a little care into making each installment work? Just a little! It's not like they didn't have time; Vegas Vacation was released eight years after Christmas. Why sign off on such a lazy, unfunny script?