Movie Review: ‘Vacation’

Director: John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein

Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins

Plot: Rusty Griswold, son of Clark and Ellen of the previous Vacation movies, tries to help restore his families bond with a road trip to Walley World. Hijinks ensue.

Review: Ok, first question…where did the baby come from?

When you watch it there’s a whole couple of scenes in the middle where they visit Audrey (Rusty’s sister) and her husband played by Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth. The following day when the Griswold’s drive away you can see a baby arm sticking out…clearly Audrey is holding a baby in front of her (we see them from the back). Where was this baby during the rest of their visit?

Right, moving on from the mystery baby. Out of all the old franchises sitting on the reboot shelf this one makes more sense than most. It’s a simple premise with the potential for lots of comedy. Any funny group of actors can step into the story and there’s not going to be many people getting bent out of shape if the original material isn’t ‘respected’ enough. For this adventure Ed Helm’s is the adult Rusty taking a cue from his father and forcing the family out on a road trip vacation. On the way they encounter a range of colourful characters and situations that will test the groups bond and, at some point, push Rusty over the edge.

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This new entry to the series follows the formula to a tee, with a pretty solid line-up of actors to deliver the gags. Things seem pretty bland during the first act as the characters are set up and sent on their way, but the momentum does pick up before long. Some of the running gags like the unpredictable car functions and singing to Seal manage to deliver a pay off in the end, making up for some of the jokes that fall flat. Some of the jokes are telegraphed far in advance, and when they arrive at the college and the hot spring it’s pretty obvious where what the joke is going to be.

Chris Hemsworth gets one of best roles, playing the ridiculously masculine cowboy celebrity married to Rusty’s sister, and is a great comic foil to the main cast. Most 0f the other cameo appearances stick around long enough for a single days filming, but it’s usually worth it, like Charlie Day’s rafting instructor.

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This feels like a pretty crappy things to say, considering this is a vehicle for him, but Ed Helms is the weakest link in the chain. He’s not bad in any way, but he isn’t the funniest dog in this race. He seems to trying to re-create Chevy Chase’s routine from the previous films rather than finding his own ground. Steele Stebbins as the youngest Griswold is possibly the most fun, having great comedic timing and getting the best laughs.

We do wonder if anyone considered Johnny Galecki for this film. He was Rusty in Christmas Vacation, is would be marketable as the star of The Big Bang Theory. Might’ve been fun to have that continuation of the role. 

Not every joke lands, but by the end of the ride you’ll have had plenty of laughs. It’s a fun comedy that makes for a good night out.

Rating: SIX out of TEN

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