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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Movie Review: Vacation (2015)

Have you ever taken a family vacation? In July 2015, Rusty wants to take his family down the same road trip of fun he had as a kid.

Directing this 99 minute adventure/comedy is John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein.

Some of the cast is: Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold, Christina Applegate as Debbie Griswold, Skyler Gisondo as James Griswold, Steele Stebbins as Kevin Griswold, Chris Hemsworth as Stone Crandall, Leslie Mann as Audrey Crandall, Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, Beverly D'Angelo as Ellen Griswold and Ron Livingston as Ethan.

Rusty realizes the annual family vacation to their cabin in Michigan isn't as much fun for the rest of the family as it is for him. Thinking back to the Wally World vacation he took as a kid, Rusty decides
to hit the road and take his family on the same fun trip he took years ago. Before they know it, the car's packed and the family's strapped in and ready to enjoy a new different kind of vacation. So, look out Wally World, here come the Griswolds... again!

Back in 1983 a man named Clark Griswold wanted to take his family on a road trip that would end up in a theme park called Wally World. That fun loving, adventure-filled chaos was a launching point for National Lampoon's series that we've all watched over the years. Now, Vacation (2015) is the fifth installment to the series, but the 83' vacation that started it all was initially based off of a short story John Hughes wrote, called Vacation '58, that was published in National Lampoon's magazine.

When I first heard they were doing the Vacation film I was seriously, we'll go with... upset so I can keep this review in the  PG rating. At first they were throwing around the (over used) idea to make it a reboot. Then they decided to go with a sequel of "sorts". A sequel of... "sorts"?!? I wasn't quite sure what that meant and even Google couldn't explain it to me, which was depressing because I thought the internet had all the answers I would ever need in life.

So, I gathered my angry mob (which wasn't hard to form), armed them with pitchforks and torches (standard mob tools), and we were ready to storm the hills and tell Hollywood how upset we were at the atrocity they had the nerve to label National Lampoon's.

Well, I have to say, I felt a little foolish when I had to disband a riled up mob because there was no need to storm the hill.  Luckily for me these days there are a lot of reasons for a mob to storm the Hollywood hills, so they moved on with little fuss. No thanks to the internet, I now know what a sort of sequel is, and yeah, I wouldn't mind seeing a few more flicks go this way instead of a full reboot.

Writers Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley came up with a great idea to further the franchise based off of the characters by John Hughes. I liked the story and the way they did it. We pick up years later with Rusty all grown up with a family of his own. I didn't mind spinning it off of a family member like that because you still have the history but can easily build something new. I liked how the writers completely embraced the original but still spun something kind of new-ish and very funny.
                                              


So, does this one win any points for originality? Afraid not, because it's just like the 1983 vacation. We get a bubbling but loving dad that road trips the family while everything that could (and shouldn't) go wrong, does. However, because of the good writing and great work done by the cast, the film does stand on its own and is worthy to carry the Lampoon's title. After watching it, I wouldn't mind them throwing out some more Griswold family adventures with Helms and Applegate.

The playthrough, surprisingly, was very entertaining. There are a lot of jokes and sight gags throughout the film and Helms does a killer job filling Chase's job as the dad heading the family trip. One of the things I didn't like was, character wise, Rusty was almost too much like his dad Clark. I remember Rusty's character wasn't a genius by any means, but he wasn't so comically dim witted either. Somehow growing up made him... dumber I guess. Other than that I can't say I have much else to complain about. I will warn you, there is a l-o-t of crude and sexual humor throughout the movie, which (depending on the person) could make it uncomfortable to watch or make for a ton of laughs.

The cast did a great job all around. Applegate and Helms made a perfect team and both had great timing with their deliveries when bringing the jokes. Lately, we've gotten used to seeing the mighty Thor (Hemsworth) swing his hammer around and save humanity. Well, he's still swinging a hammer... of sorts. (When you watch the movie or the trailer, you'll see what I'm talking about.) Now, Hemsworth's role isn't very big, but he had enough time to deliver a few laughs while he was around.

The young Griswold brothers, played by Gisondo and Stebbins, were cracking me up with their characters. The cast line up also had a few cameo surprises like Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key, Regina Hall, Nick Kroll, Michael Pena and Colen Hanks. The cameo crowd dropped their lines and moved on pretty quick but each added their own touch of humor to the scenes.

Overall, it may not be the Vacation you remember, but it's one you won't quickly forget about either. As awesome as it is though, I would still wait to catch it at the cheaper theaters or rentals because it doesn't have a car chase explosion filled need to see it on the big screen. It is however, worthy of a space on the movie rack at home, so start making room for a copy.

It's rated R for language and nudity.

4 stars

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