If you're even remotely familiar with I-Mockery, you probably know that I'm a big fan of bad movies. Of course, when I say "bad movies", I'm talking about the kind that are so bad they're good. You know, the kind of flicks that are unintentionally hilarious, because the creators were so inept in their craftsmanship that they ended up producing something absolutely absurd, and viewing audiences can't help but laugh and wonder how somebody ever greenlit the project in the first place. Still, even with subpar filmmaking skills, you can often tell that some real love went into these kind of movies, because they weren't made ironically. The filmmakers were dead serious about the subject matter. They believed in the story lines.
Then there are movies like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure. The kind of movies that were made not because some insane person truly believed that a gymnast saving the world would be a big hit with audiences, but because they simply wanted to cash in on an existing franchise while putting forth absolutely zero effort. Make no mistake about it... Christmas Vacation 2 is as bad as it gets. With no budget, no Chevy Chase, and an awful script, it becomes crystal clear within the first five minutes that you're watching a train wreck that unjustly used the Vacation film franchise name to draw in fans. It's an incredibly painful movie to sit through; and that's coming from a guy who has watched The Star Wars Holiday Special multiple times. You probably shouldn't even call it a movie. Call it an endurance test.
Well, today I'm gonna do all of you a solid. I'm going to share with you the reasons why Christmas Vacation 2 is one of the worst holiday films in the history of cinema so you don't actually have to sit down and watch it. Granted, you probably already know it's going to be horrible, since it doesn't feature Clark W. Griswold and currently has a 2.7 rating on IMDB (which is far more than it deserves). I knew this too, but I still had to see just how bad it really was. So while the idea of a Vacation film without Chevy Chase sounded about as good of an idea as The Shining without Jack Nicholson, I still dared to throw myself headfirst into 83 minutes of made-for-TV torture called Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure. Just remember... I do this for you. Merry Christmas.
Cousin Eddie vs. A Monkey Named Roy
You know when a comedy film breaks out a monkey for comedic relief within the first several minutes, you're in for something truly terrible. As we all know, Cousin Eddie has held a lot of jobs that have proven quite hazardous to his health over the years, but now he's working for a company called "Atomic Testing Agency" and they're monitoring him as he plays a game of tic-tac-toe against a monkey named Roy. Naturally, he loses against Roy and the scientists decide that they can only afford to keep the smarter of the two, so Eddie gets fired. Not even Fred Willard's cameo can save this scene from being the first of many disasters to come in the film.
A short while later, Eddie returns to beg for his job back, at which point Roy bites Eddie on the ass. Professor Doornitz (Willard) offers Eddie a free tropical island vacation as compensation for the monkey bite, which Eddie gladly accepts instead of suing the company. And that's how this movie ends up taking place on a tropical island: Eddie gets bit on the ass by a monkey and then gets sent to a tropical island. I wish I was making that up, but that's what the writer actually came up with for the plotline of this movie. Who needs a high school diploma when you can write for National Lampoon these days?
The Title Font
I've seen local car dealership commercials display better typography skills than this crap. It may seem minor, but little things like this can quickly set the tone for a movie - if you're not willing to make the opening title sequence look decent, chances are you didn't put much effort into the rest of the film either. Look, I get that they probably didn't have the budget to make a wonderful animated intro sequence like in the original Christmas Vacation film, but I'm sure whoever edited this thing could've put forth an extra minute or two to spruce it up a little bit. But no, they used whatever default font came with the free trial version of the editing software that was surely used to piece this abomination together with. I dunno about you, but with high quality visuals like this, I simply can't wait to see what's next!
Eddie's Bug-Zapping Forehead
Due to all of the studies he's participated in at the Atomic Testing Agency, the metal plate in Eddie's forehead apparently lights up and zaps bugs to death now. The way it's introduced makes you think it's going to come into play later on in the movie and maybe accidentally help save the day or something, but no... it's just a visual gag to remind you about how wacky Eddie's health problems are. It's also there to remind you that watching this movie will forever poison your soul.
Since they lost the RV camper, Cousin Eddie, Catherine and company have moved into Cousin Audrey Griswold's house until they can afford a place of their own. For no reason, Eddie uncharacteristically decides to take a shower, and as soon as he turns the knob, it pops off and water starts shooting out. Soon enough, it's gushing out of the walls and toilet with the strength of a firehose. This agonizing scene continues on for for what feels like a half-hour, and we eventually see water gushing out of the house itself. But again, it makes no sense here. This isn't Eddie's home, where you could maybe expect everything to be in complete disarray; this is Audrey's home. It's a nice house and there's no reason for the plumbing to go cartoonishly haywire just because eddie turned on the shower faucet.
They also show it overflowing once again much later in the movie; you know, because nobody would've reported a house with water gushing out of the windows over the course of a week or so. It scares me to think how much of the film's overall budget was used on this one stupid joke.
Remember Eddie's dog, Snot? Well he's back for the sequel, sort of. You see, instead of being a hyper, reckless animal with a sinus condition that leaves his face constantly covered in mucus, Snot is now docile as can be. Docile and gassy. Whenever Eddie picks him up, Snot farts. Comedy!
Now I'm certainly not above a good fart joke or anything, Leslie Nielsen was the master of them as far as I'm concerned, but it's executed so poorly in this movie that you wish they'd just leave the damn dog at home. Snot was one of the many hilariously chaotic components to Christmas Vacation, but he's a practically lifeless shell of his former self here. It's bad writing for sure, but the sound mixer is also to blame. You can always tell when a sound effect was slapped on top of video footage rather than properly mixed with it, and that's certainly the case with all the gas passing here. But come on... should you really expect proper sound mixing on a direct-to-video release? Actually, yes... you should. It's not too much to ask.
Uncle Nick Is Rapey
Uncle Nick, played by Ed Asner, is a new character in Eddie's family who tags along for their vacation because his wife recently left him and he has nothing better to do. Call me crazy, but maybe his wife left him because he's extremely rapey. Upon arriving in the South Pacific, Nick starts groping and ogling every woman in sight - particularly Muka Luka Miki (Sung Hi Lee), who is their island vacation tour guide. Staring at her chest, watching her bathe nude, and trying to grope her... it doesn't come off as comedic at all. It just comes off as creepy. There's even a few frames where I swear I caught Randy Quaid looking into the camera as if to say, "Is anybody else getting creeped out by this too?"
Look, I get it... she's a beautiful girl, but having some old man perving out on her for over an hour does not make comedy.
The Shark Scene
There are countless things in Christmas Vacation 2 that demonstrate just how low the budget was, but the shark scene is definitely near the top of the list. While on vacation, Eddie and pals go fishing, and he manages to hook a shark. A huge shark. The shark is so powerful that it pulls the entire boat in its wake, and somehow doesn't pull Eddie into the water instead. Movie magic! It's a silly looking animated scene for sure, and I could forgive that since it's a cheap comedy, but it's what happens next when they turn on that boat that I can't forgive.
Realizing they're being towed out to sea, Uncle Nick turns on the boat engine in an attempt to win their watery tug-of-war with the shark. Rather than adjust the animation to make it look like the shark is now really being pulled by the boat, they lazily reversed the animation. It's incredibly obvious too, because the shark's fin isn't even facing the right way in the shot of them towing it! Brilliant!
Oh, you're also treated to lengthy green-screened shots of Randy Quaid with a fishing pole wedged in his crotch. Enjoy!
Listening To The Cast Butcher A Christmas Carol
After the ridiculous shark incident renders their vessel shipwrecked, Eddie and company make their way onto a nearby island and set up camp. There are plenty of agonizing scenes I could report on, such as Eddie trying to start a fire or catch a wild boar, but nothing is quite as painful as when the group suddenly decides to sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". As they come together, this Christmas carol is completely butchered while Eddie plays the ukulele with a twig as if it were a fiddle. There's background music playing along, but they're not in time with it (or each other), and they're not in tune with it either. I'm not even convinced that Ed Asner was conscious during this scene; wouldn't be surprised to learn that they just propped him up. I'll stick with Bad Religion's rendition of the song this season instead. At least they can carry a tune.
The Tarzan & Jane Dream Sequence
Sensing that more needed to happen on the island than showing the cast with piles of bananas, the filmmakers decided that what Christmas Vacation 2 was missing was a dream sequence. Cut to Eddie sleeping on the ground where he dreams of being Tarzan while his wife Catherine plays Jane. She's stuck in a tree and a large snake is... doing absolutely nothing to threaten her, yet Eddie must still come to her rescue. What's incredible is that Eddie's dreams are like Silent Movies. Seriously, his dreams are mimed in sepia tone and even have title cards. I'm sure the director was hoping this would make an excellent clip for his reel. It isn't.
Eddie bumbles the rescue and falls after swinging from the tree, and guess who's on the ground to laugh at his misfortune? If you guessed "Roy the Monkey", collect your prize. Roy laughs away at Eddie. Or maybe he's not laughing. He's a monkey... I honestly couldn't give a shit what he's doing. I just want this movie to end.
After awaking from his nap, Eddie sees Melbourne Jack (another pointless character shoehorned into the story) fly his plane over the island. He's come to their rescue. Naturally, no rescue attempt could go completely unbotched, right? Sure enough, Eddie nearly kills him by accident, and as he's flying them all back to civilization, Jack passes out. Now up to Eddie to land the plane and prove he's not the bumbling sack of flesh we all know him to be.
Now let's be honest: Seeing the entire cast crash and burn in a fiery death would be the only possible way to salvage the movie at this moment. You know, something completely unexpected that would make you realize the filmmakers were actually geniuses hiding a huge twist ending all along. Of course, that's not the case here. Instead, they drag out the emergency plane landing scene for an awful five minutes or so, but it feels like it goes on for days. I actually yelled out loud, "Come on! Just land the goddamn plane already!" at the TV.
I never yell at my TV... and I have Time Warner Cable. That right there should tell it all.
Anyway, the agonizing sequence eventually draws to a close as Eddie manages to land the plane and everybody survives. And what's so bad about that? Well, it means that they could try to film another one. That's right... there could be a "Christmas Vacation 3: Cousin Eddie's Jungle Jamboree" in your future. Good luck trying to sleep tonight.
The Almost Complete Lack Of
Anything To Do With Christmas
As my mind glazed over the last minutes of the movie, one key factor really hit home: it's called "Christmas Vacation 2", yet it hardly has anything Christmassy in it! You have Eddie in a science lab, a dog farting in an airport, a boat being towed by a shark, a shitty Tarzan reproduction... is it really too much to ask for a single shot of some Moose Mugs or kids building a snowman? You see that picture of Ed Asner wearing a torn plastic grocery bag as a makeshift Santa Claus beard? This is honestly the most Christmassy thing that happens in the entire movie. That's some ho, ho, horseshit if I've ever seen it.
Eddie & Roy Become Co-Pilots
I shit you not. That's how this fucking movie ends.
If you want to watch a bunch of people bumble around an island for a while, I suggest watching some classic episodes of Gilligan's Island. If you want to watch a Christmas movie that takes place on an island, I suggest watching Jack Frost 2: The Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman. If you want to watch a movie that empties the full contents of its shitter directly onto the legacy of the original Christmas Vacation movie, then check out Christmas Vacation 2. Or better yet, just go set yourself on fire, because it'll be a far less painful experience. Mele Kalikimaka.
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