Vacation is the latest installation of the well-known comedy series that began with National Lampoon’s Vacation back in 1983 and stars Ed Helms and Christina Applegate. In this reboot of the original, Rusty, son of Clark and Ellen Griswald, is all grown up with his own family. Now married to Debbie (Applegate) with 2 boys, and a pilot for super-budget Econair, he wants to change things up by doing something different than the run-of-the-mill vacation the family normally takes to Sheboygan. Rusty decides that a trip to Wally-world is just the thing the family needs, and so they embark on a cross-country journey very similar to the very first National Lampoon’s Vacation.
I was a little worried at first because the early scenes with Rusty as the pilot were just silly and not that funny. But the humor gets better as we meet the rest of the family, especially youngest son Kevin (Steele Stebbins). Kevin’s bullying of his older brother, pranks, and unexpected outbursts run through the entire movie and are one of the funniest elements in the film. Similar to National Lampoon’s Vacation, the family vehicle is a character unto itself. Ensuring the trip is doomed from the start, Rusty rents a “Prancer”, the last vehicle available for rent in the city and for good reason. It is a ghastly beast with questionable origins and perplexing features which the family explores with some pretty funny results.
The trek across the country includes a stop at Debbie’s former college in Tennessee where she disastrously competes in a sorority “chug run”, a “hot springs” in Arkansas which turns out to be a sewer pit, and an encounter with police at Four Corners Monument who engage in a hilarious battle of jurisdiction after they catch Rusty and Debbie having sex. A stop at sister Audrey’s ranch introduces us to her very good looking and successful husband Stone (Chris Hemsworth) who seems very flirtatious with Debbie. This sets up some very funny scenes, especially a bedroom scene where Stone is showing off his “sixpack”. One major dud though is the stop at the Grand Canyon, where their guide (played by Charlie Day) just received some very bad news and almost kills them on the rafting trip. The scene isn’t structured very well, isn’t very funny, and overall just doesn’t work. It should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Though it follows in a similar vein, Vacation does distinguish itself and is not a remake of the original. Veteran stars deliver good performances, but are actually outshined in many cases by the younger actors, which is not a bad thing. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part Vacation offers steady laughs throughout the entire film and delivers exactly what audiences would expect from this type of movie.
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::: Renowned For Sound Technical Director and Film Reviewer ::: Robert is an IT geek, movie fan and part-time movie reviewer/editor. Robert also looks after the ‘behind the scenes’ technical elements of Renowned For Sound.