Awfully Good: National Lampoon's Holiday Reunion

National Lampoon's Holiday Reunion (2003)

Director: Neal Israel
Stars: Bryan Cranston, Judge Reinhold, Penelope Ann Miller

Judge Reinhold goes to visit Walter White for Thanksgiving.

Nothing says "heartwarming Thanksgiving film" like Bryan Cranston from "Breaking Bad" naked… bear hugging Judge Reinhold… (also naked)… in the shower…from behind. This is a scarier Turkey Day movie than THANKSKILLING.


Made and aired by TBS, HOLIDAY REUNION carries the NATIONAL LAMPOON'S prefix without any of the laughs. This seriously feels like a rejected VACATION movie, but instead of Chevy Chase you have Judge Reinhold, and instead of Randy Quaid's Cousin Eddie, you get Bryan Cranston's Cousin Woodrow. There's the exact same plot, exact same dynamic (the wacky, weird family vs. the stuck up family who doesn't know how to let loose) and the impending life lesson right before a national holiday. It's all just done very, very poorly.

It was love at first sight.

The one reason to watch this, however, is for the presence of Bryan Cranston. As a huge "Breaking Bad" fan, it's truly bizarre and amusing to see brilliant anti-hero Walter White as a long-haired idiot hippie who practices free love whether you want some or not. It's probably as far removed from Heisenberg as you could possibly get and I have no clue what non-monetary incentive drew Cranston to this project. Judge Reinhold I totally get, but Cranston was well in to "Malcolm in the Middle" when this was made. And make no mistake—this is completely a "last resort" movie.

His methods were unorthodox, but his meth was pure.

HOLIDAY REUNION has literally no plot except that Bryan Cranston needs to ask Judge Reinhold to borrow money. That's it. The rest is complete, mind-numbing filler. Here's how it breaks down: Reinhold's Mitch Snider is a celebrity anesthesiologist with a horrible, gold-digging wife and annoying kids. He's dreading Thanksgiving and wishing he had a better family when, out of nowhere, he gets a letter from his long lost cousin Woodrow inviting them to spend the holiday together. So Mitch piles his family, as well as his uncle/neighbor Phil—who only exists as a character to regularly pass gas throughout the movie—in to the car and sets out cross-country to spend a week with someone he's never met, spoken with or knows anything about. (There's a road trip montage set to an original song called, "I'm On a Holiday Reunion." That's what you're working with here.)

CORNHOLIO: THE MOVIE was a scatological masterpiece.

When they arrive at their destination, they discover Cranston's Woodrow is a complete nutjob who's the laughing stock of the town—essentially Cousin Eddie with longer hair. He's a washing machine repairman that has a pet turkey with tuberculosis, which of course they're going to kill and eat on Thanksgiving. He's a mantra-chanting free spirit, so it's totally cool when he sneaks in to the shower with his cousin and soaps him up before wet-humping him. And he believes in free love, so it's not weird at all when he busts out the sex swing and tries to have a foursome with his own family members. It's later revealed that Woodrow is weird and despised by everyone because he ran the wrong way and lost the big high school football game decades earlier. That explains it!

Once Peter Parker started going through puberty, things got weird.

If that sounds like a recipe for laughter, you're clearly already drunk as you read this. The "comedy" in HOLIDAY REUNION includes such hilarity as a dream sequence featuring a talking CGI turkey, MATRIX-style bullet time shots of an old couple about to make out, Cranston's son putting live spiders in his pants, and a recurring gag where the family dog keeps aggressively going after Judge Reinhold's taint. Also amusing are the original songs, which are laughably literal. There's the aforementioned "Holiday Reunion" road trip singalong. There's a song called "Yoko," which plays whenever the dog Yoko puts her nose in Reinhold's ass. And there's the unforgettable ballad "Hot Sh*t," which you'll hear when the two sisters inexplicably mud wrestle each other. (In keeping with the random incestual theme, the two male cousins are turned on by this for some reason.) I gotta say; I expected so much more from the director of SURF NINJAS.

Phoebe Cates said the same thing.

This ridiculous movie takes an unpredictably serious turn in the end when Reinhold's daughter gets in to a terrible car accident and he has to perform an emergency tracheotomy to save the life of her new boyfriend. At first I assumed that something silly was going to happen, like Bryan Cranston would accidentally vomit in to the boy's newly formed neck hole, but—surprise, surprise!—the film plays it straight as both characters Mitch and Woodrow find redemption as heroes. And then immediately after that, Judge Reinhold puts on a Cher wig and makes love to his wife, while the dog gives him a rimjob once again. The End.

Meet Bryan Cranston's wacky family and get introduced to Uncle Phil's toxic farts.


Thought Walter White's tighty whities were bad? Get ready to see him without them.

Say his name and buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Bryan Cranston does something sexual
  • Bryan Cranston hugs someone
  • The dog puts his nose in Reinhold's ass
  • Uncle Phil farts
Double shot if:
  • A word sets off Bryan Cranston

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: JoBlo.com



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