After surviving our own summer vacation, Dan and I needed a laugh.
PLOT - In this reboot of the National Lampoon Vacation series, we find an adult Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) struggling to reconnect with his family. He gets a brilliant idea to shake-up their stale summer vacation plans by taking the family on a road trip from Chicago to California to visit Wally World. Naturally, the trip isn't without an endless onslaught of problems, including scary truck drivers, swimming in sewage and a bizarre European rental car. Along the way, the Griswolds visit Audrey (Leslie Mann) who is living with her hunky, conservative, weatherman, husband ( Chris Hemsworth) in Texas. They also make a stop to visit Clark ( Chevy Chase) and Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), who are running a Bed and Breakfast in San Francisco. Will the next generation of Griswolds survive the journey to the iconic Wally World?
LIKE - Right from the opening credits, a montage of old vacation disaster pictures, I was laughing. The opening credits set the tone for the rest of the film, which had me giggling throughout. Vacation is much cruder than the original films, but it still kept some of the familiar gags, like the painfully awkward teenagers, uncomfortable talks with the dorky dad and the flirtatious women in the hot cars. Vacation is a film for a new generation, but it keeps the spirit of the originals.
The cast makes this film. Ed Helms was a perfect choice for Rusty, but Christina Applegate as his wife, Debbie, really steals the show. She makes the best "suffering wife" facial expressions. I know that Vacation didn't do great at the box office, but if they make another film, I hope that Leslie Mann gets more screen time. Adding to the cast, were some familiar faces in supporting roles, like Charlie Day, Ron Livingston and Norman Reedus. Funny stuff.
I liked the message about how family vacations should be a bit miserable and that it's the pain of the journey that makes the destination so sweet. It's so true that the worst things that happen while on vacation, become magically transformed into the best vacation stories very quickly after the fact.
DISLIKE - A big chunk of the story was dedicated to the Griswold kids, older brother James (Skyler Gisondo) and younger brother Kevin (Steele Stebbins). James is an incredibly awkward and sensitive teen, who is mercilessly tormented by Kevin. The writers laid this on thick, with Kevin being the absolute worst, foul-mouthed kid. He was just awful. This element could have been toned down to where we still get the point, but where we might like Kevin when he changes his attitude later in the film. Kevin's behavior also made me question Rusty and Debbie, who are generally likable characters, but I guess crappy parents?
I disliked how so many of the funny parts of Vacation were ruined by the trailer. It's not that ALL of the funny parts were ruined, but there were plenty of key moments that would have made a stronger impact, if I hadn't seen them a billion times in the trailers. This is such an iconic franchise, that they could have spliced a trailer that gave away nearly zero elements the film and it would have been effective.
RECOMMEND- Absolutely. This is a funny cast and a decent script, a good addition to the franchise.