Movie Review: ‘Vacation’


Imagine you’re a drunk studio executive, sitting at a bar, and someone walks up to you. It’s John Francis Daley. You like the kid. You sometimes watch Bones. He pushes a napkin at you and on that napkin it reads “The Hangover + National Lampoon’s Vacation = Money”. You’re a studio exec, and you know that if you’re not rebooting something, you’re doing it wrong. And you like Money. So you shake John Francis Daley’s hand, not really understanding what just happened.

Cut to present day, where you have basically what was written down on that paper. It’s The Hangover meets Vacation. It’s so much raunchier than originally conceived. And the original was a National Lampoon movie, which says a lot about the level of raunch they were comfortable with.

You don’t know how to market the film. It’s not really family friendly. It’s a hard R. So, you hire a firm to make a trailer, and they have no idea what the film is about, so they take all the best jokes, hoping that will bring people to the theatre. The problem with that is that now the audience has nothing to laugh at. Sure, you left a few jokes out that were just too adult to be in the preview. But most of the accessible jokes are in the trailer.

So if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen Vacation. Sadly. You can get about the same enjoyment level from watching the trailer of Vacation. Yes, there are more jokes. Not all of them land with the audience. For example, the whole four corners segment was dumb. I also had a hard time believing the end sequence would ever happen. Same thing with Norman Reedus’s cameo. I can suspend disbelief only just so long.

The film also has no idea what is making it work. Steele Stebbins works really well as Kevin, and offers more laughs than the rest of the family. For some unknown reason, he basically gets neutered mid movie, around the same time when the film takes a downhill turn in quality. Then the film begins to rely heavily on Chris Hemsworth for some laughs, shoves Leslie Mann into the background, and hopes you love dick jokes. Then the film wraps up with Ron Livingston in the worst possible ending for the film you could imagine. Look, if I ran into someone halfway across the country like that, I’d be more shocked that I ran into them than anything else. That’s a pretty major coincidence. Again, I can totally suspend disbelief, but Vacation asks me to do that a lot.

If you haven’t seen the preview, there are some good laughs headed your way. The preview was entertaining and made me hopeful the movie was at least on the level of We’re the Millers. It’s not. If you’re interested in watching Vacation, I’d wait to watch it at home. This film doesn’t deserve 10 bucks of your hard earned income. It deserves $1.50 from Redbox.

FINAL GRADE: C+

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