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'Vacation' sequel: Does the link to the original hurt or help this movie?

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national-lampoons-vacation_lJust how valuable is the Vacation brand? Does Chevy Chase’s quartet of family comedies even qualify as a brand? New Line executives and director David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) seem to think so and are gambling that moviegoers still have a soft spot for the Griswolds, last seen in 1997’s Vegas Vacation. The Hollywood Reporter wrote yesterday that the proposed film would focus on a grown-up Rusty and his own family, while Chase and Beverly D’Angelo might make token appearances as the grandparents.

As Vegas Vacation reinforced, the Griswold films are hardly sacred territory, so I’m not upset by New Line’s intentions. But why make a “Vacation” film at all? Does the name-recognition really help that much at the box office? According to the Hollywood Reporter, New Line hopes to craft a movie more like Little Miss Sunshine than RV, the Vacation-y 2006 road-romp starring Robin Williams.  Great! Outstanding! But why bother calling it a Vacation movie at all? In fact, if New Line crams a Little Miss Sunshine movie into Vacation packaging, they threaten to alienate the few true Griswold fans who remain.

I’m not blind. I know that sequels and remakes are an essential pillar of the moviemaking industry, but in some cases, they seem to be bad business. Will Dobkins movie be penalized rather than rewarded at the box-office for being a Vacation film? I envision many people, even fans of the original and the underrated Christmas Vacation, sticking up their nose at this go-around, prejudging Dobkins’ personal LMS and condemning it to obscurity, fairly or unfairly.

This is a bad idea, right PopWatchers? Is the Vacation label a badge of courage or a scarlet letter at this point? Does a Vacation movie of any kind hold any promise for you? Can you imagine a new star capturing Chase’s goofy earnestness in the film?

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