Warner Bros. is passing the torch of its "National Lampoon's Vacation" franchise to subsidiary New Line Cinema, which is appropriate since the series itself is making a similar generational transition. According to The Hollywood Reporter, following four installments focused on Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and family during different vacations -- plus one spin-off involving a holiday taken by the motley clan of Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) -- the franchise has been inherited by Clark's son Rusty, who now has a family of his own.
Rusty Griswold has been played by four different actors throughout the series' run. Anthony Michael Hall was the first to play the son, appropriate since the original film was scripted and based on a short story by the late John Hughes, who went on to turn the kid into a star with roles in "Sixteen Candles," "Weird Science" and "The Breakfast Club."
Hughes also wrote the first two sequels, "European Vacation," which cast Jason Lively -- yes, Blake Lively's brother -- as Rusty, and "Christmas Vacation," in which the son was portrayed by Johnny Galecki of TV's "The Big Bang Theory." For "Vegas Vacation," Ethan Embry, who'd previously starred in the Hughes-scripted "Dutch," stepped into the role.
Despite the always-changing face of the character, New Line really should bring one of the past Rusty players back. I'd love to see Anthony Michael Hall reprise the role, as Gelecki and Embry are really still too young to be a family patriarch. And Lively seems to be out of the business. Plus, of the four different actresses who've played Rusty's sister Audrey, the original film's Dana Barron got to return to the role already for "Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure." Perhaps she could appear in this film, as well, and reunite with her "Vacation" sibling.
According to the report, New Line is hoping to at least allow for cameo appearances from Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, who will now be grandparents. Could there be other cameos? It would be nice to see Quaid as Eddie again, especially if it keeps the actor out of trouble with the law. And if they do really want to acknowledge the road trip from the first movie, why not get "30 Rock" funny lady Jane Krakowski to return to the role of Cousin Vicki (now likely a washed-up Vegas stripper)?
As you can probably tell, I'm very excited about the possibilities for this "Vacation: the Next Generation" (actual title is currently unknown), since it appears to be in better hands than most rebooted and spun-off franchises. New Line has attached "Wedding Crashers" director David Dobkin to produce and possibly helm the sequel, and the studio claims to be more interested in a movie that's more "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "Little Miss Sunshine" than the family-targeted "RV" and "Are We There Yet?"
Are you also excited for this next installment in the "Vacation" series? Do you agree that Anthony Michael Hall should be brought back to his role at any cost?