It seems there have been several reboots for film franchises recently. Or maybe it’s just my imagination. But at any rate, the latest reboot of “Vacation” (and I use the term loosely here as this could simply be another “long-awaited” sequel), has a grown up Rusty, played by Ed Helms, making that long family vacation trip to Walley World in order to reconnect with his wife and sons. The film even makes a reference to the “original” vacation as Helms assures his family that this vacation will be different because there are two sons instead of a son and daughter and probably several other differences along the way. He further states this new vacation “will stand on its own.” View the trailer below.
That being said, the film seems to try to emulate the comedy and style of the original 1983 classic, but with more crudeness and vulgarity than the original. Of course this is not the 80’s and the world is much different now, but I felt the writers tried a bit too hard to capture the comedy and feel of that first film and basically update the jokes and crude humor, which I don’t feel really worked well to sustain the film.
There are some humorous moments as Debbie Griswold (Christina Applegate), Rusty’s wife, takes on a Greek challenge at her old college in Tennessee on a stop along their trip. Or when elder son James (Skyler Gisondo) asks his dad what a ‘rim job’ is. Most of the crude humor comes from younger brother Kevin (Steele Stebbins) who appeared to have something rude and vulgar coming out of his mouth every other sentence or so. I found the comedy bits were a bit forced and some of them too similar to the original Chevy Chase classic. Chase and Beverly D’ Angelo do make cameo appearances in the film as the parents. They are now running a bed and breakfast in San Francisco so Rusty brings his family by and spend the night. This of course allows for a reconnection to his family and he decides to continue their journey onto Walley World. His parents still have the old green station wagon from the original and give it to Rusty so that he and his family can complete the journey to the famed theme park after losing their foreign rental car when it blew up.
Helms is decent here as a family man who is sort of an underachiever. His heart is in the right place, wanting to reconnect to his family. Applegate appeared to be less than a three dimensional character. She did have some motivation and character moments, but it just seemed her character did not have a rounded personality. Leslie Mann played Audrey Griswold and really seemed to be underused here. In a quick sequence of scenes, Rusty visits his sister and family. Mann just didn’t seem to appear enough in the scenes and it seemed like she could do more but the script did not apparently lend the character to more screen time, which allowed for a flatter character. Gisondo and Stebbins seemed to play off of each other as the rivaling siblings and the interaction between the two appeared genuine enough. Chris Hemsworth played Stone Crandall, Audrey’s husband, who was a rancher, weatherman, and was particularly well endowed, in one of the few true comedic scenes. His performance was a bit over the top and played more like an exaggerated caricature. (Which I guess is what a caricature is).
Whether you call this film a reboot or a long awaited sequel, it didn’t match the comedy and timing of the original. I think the film didn’t really stand on its own. “Vacation” was written and directed by John Francis Daley (stars in Bones, also a writer) and Jonathan M. Goldstein (producer, writer, “Horrible Bosses 1 & 2”), with characters created by John Hughes. The film was produced by Warner Brothers, runs 99 minutes and is Rated R.