Vacation: Crude Comedy Pales in Comparison to its Predecessor
Marking the first and second R-rated entry since the 1983 original National Lampoon’s Vacation –starring Chevy Chase- Vacation is the latest out-of-control-family-road-trip comedy that is funny, maddening, charming and disgusting all at the same time.
Written and directed by Horrible Bosses writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, the story is centered on the Griswolds; father and budget airline pilot, Rusty (Helms), his wife, Debbie (Applegate) and two sons, James (Gisondo) and Kevin (Stebbins). With their yearly family trip just around the corner, Rusty –who loves spending time with his family more than life itself- is looking forward to yet another vacation to their country cabin.
However, when he accidently overhears Debbie complaining about the repetitiveness of their life and the unchanging ways of their marriage, he decides to switch plans and take his family on a road trip across the country to “Walley World” theme park. Unenthusiastic about the idea of spending so much time in close quarters of their Albanian supercar, the family soon hits the road.
Naturally, things quickly go wrong for the Griswolds and their little cross-country adventure soon turns into a misadventure which involves swimming in sewage, river rafting and a visit to Rusty’s sister, Audrey (Mann) and her well-endowed husband, Stone (Hemsworth).
Attempting to revive its predecessor’s name – the 32 year old cult classic that is National Lampoon’s Vacation and with already a fair share of sequels– Vacation is unfortunately, not as inspiring. Coming across as a little desperate to please, its efforts, although pretty effective at times – with Stebbins the youngest and most hilarious of two sons and some pleasantly shocking profanity – there is just not enough subtlety or smart wits involved to bring around the necessary outcome; consistent and all-around pleasing viewing experience. Instead, Daley and Goldstein – who are currently working on the new and untitled Spider-Man reboot – go for the overkill and turn what was meant to be a friendly and an accessible family-road-trip comedy into a series of episodic gross-out gags and vulgar absurdity that only a few might appreciate.
Helms – as the overly enthusiastic father who only wants his family to have a good time – is relatively serviceable as the lead, while Applegate seems a little lost in her role of an unhappy wife. In the meantime, Gisondo is suitably awkward, whereas Hemsworth shows of his comedic chops as the exceptionally ‘gifted’ husband to the less-funnier Leslie Mann.
Overall, Vacation is definitely not the smartest of films and unlike the original, people will soon forget about its very existence. However, if you’re looking for a piece of mindless midweek distractions then Vacation is a movie to see, otherwise, stay well clear.