Taking a Gamble
Release Date: February 14, 1997
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Stephen Kessler
Executive Producer: Matty Simmons & Susan Ekins
Producer: Jerry Weintraub
Writer: Elisa Bell
Address Comments To:Robert A. Daly & Terry Semel , Co-Chairman
Warner Bros., Inc.
4000 Warner Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91522
Clark and his wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), have come to Vegas to renew their wedding vows, but as Clark becomes addicted to blackjack, the renewal of the marriage vows becomes less and less a question of when and more and more a question of if. Wayne Newton enters the picture causing Ellen to swoon. As Ellen receives multiple gifts by the singer/entertainer, Clark quickly begins to feel intimidated, and jealously rears its ugly head.
Rusty Griswold (Ethan Embry) meanwhile tries his luck with a false ID at the casino and can’t seem to lose. Having won four cars and the penthouse suite, his successful gambling stands in stark contrast to his dad’s loss of $23,000 at the blackjack table. Meanwhile, Audry Griswold (Mariso Nichols ), becomes entranced by the world of her punk dancer cousin/girlfriend. To round out the “family” together experience, Ellen finds herself alone with nothing to do and decides to accept an invitation to join Wayne Newton for lunch.
This movie continues to show the ironies between Clark’s expectations and reality. With the intent on providing the “perfect” family vacation, just like the “perfect” Christmas, he finds himself sidetracked, or in this case obsessed, with a vice – gambling − or rather, with losing. He just can’t win. This obsession leads him to abandon his wife and children. Ellen tries to lead him back to reality, telling Clark to his face, “find the man I married and I’ll remarry him.” After losing all his money and some of his pocket lint, Clark comes to the realization that the only thing that matters is his family – a realization costing him $23,000.
This film is cleaner and more enjoyable than the VACATION episodes of the past. With a decidedly pro-family slant, the film has a moral worldview. However, due to the nature of the family experience (greed, gambling and temptation) it cannot be wholly recommended. There is no violence and no sexual improprieties either, though temptations linger. Wayne Newton does express his interest in Mrs. Griswold as a beautiful lady, but he tries to resolve the issue by exhorting Clark to recognize how precious she is and not to lose her. There is a smattering of questionable language, unnecessary, but expected. This light, brainless and funny piece of entertainment almost succeeds as a family film, but because it deals with the foolish and destructive force of gambling, it will better suit older fans of the original VACATION films than young minds unspoiled by greed.
This film is cleaner and more enjoyable than the VACATION episodes of the past. With a decidedly pro-family slant, the film has a moral worldview. However, due to the nature of the family experiences including greed, gambling and temptation, it cannot be recommended for children. There is no violence and no sexual improprieties, though temptations linger. This light, brainless funny piece of entertainment almost succeeds as a family film, but because it deals with the foolish and destructive force of gambling, it will better suit older fans of the original VACATION films than younger minds unspoiled by greed.