Hotel Hell Vacation (2010) — A very strange epilogue for the Griswolds

“It’s complementary with an E. The water complements the room”

Justin’s rating: Nostalgia roooooo–aaaaaaa–ddd!

Justin’s review: The National Lampoon’s Vacation series is one of the longest and strangest comedy franchises under that label, with four main movies, a spin-off, and a sort-of reboot. But in 2010, there was yet another entry — and this one perhaps the oddest of them all. It was basically a 14-minute commercial for vacation rental company HomeAway, which financed a short film to be aired during the Superbowl that year. While there were many good Superbowl commercials that year, this one just so happened to be a reunion of Vacation stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprising their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold.

On their way to visit the grandkids, Clark and Ellen decide to take a one-night romantic detour at a four-star hotel. There, they meet a grumpy valet (who mistreats their classic Vacation Truxter), a snooty desk clerk (who guilts them over ordering “standard” towel service), and shown to a very tiny hotel room. It’s here that the genuine laughs pick up, with the principles bumping their heads on the ceiling, people in the next room shouting “bless you!” when Clark sneezes, and Ellen accidentally showing Rusty #5 a little more of his dad in the shower than he ever wanted to see.

Suffice to say, their stay — as short as it is — turns nightmarish pretty quickly, and it’s here that you see Chase and D’Angelo easily slipping into their old roles. There are a few great jokes (Clark finding a poster in the room that has a kitten hanging from a string and the word PRIDE: “That doesn’t even make sense!”), not to mention a scattering of callbacks to the previous movies (a hot girl for Clark to ogle, Rusty showing up right behind his dad). It’s all done quite well and kind of does the series proud.

The shame here is that it’s over all too quickly. Sure, it’s a commercial. But this is like an appetizer for a full, proper movie we didn’t get, and that is regretful. I could see a lot more potential in mining a laughably poor hotel stay or the beach vacation that followed, but 14 minutes (well, 12 before credits) is all we get. Just a little “bloop!” of an epilogue to 30 years of Vacation movies, all done for the purpose of up-selling people on a travel planning website.

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