Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
From Writers/Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein comes the newest installment in a beloved Hollywood institution. After meeting him 30 years ago, a grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) decides to takes his own family on the vacation that his dad Clark (Chevy Chase) took him on at famed Walley World.
Rusty and his family go on the same vacation every single year to a cabin and realized that he is the only one who actually enjoys this trip. He discovers his wife Debbie’s (Christina Applegate) discontent when complaining to some dinner guests about how unenthusiastic she is about yet another upcoming cabin trip. Later that night, after going through some old family photos seeing how Debbie has become progressively miserable throughout the years at the cabin, Rusty decides to spice things up and take Debbie and their kids, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stibbins) on a trip to Walley World. After all, the first time the Griswolds tried to took-on Walley World it went well, didn’t it?
What Vacation manages to do is pay proper homage to the original National Lampoon’s Movie that we all fell in love with 30 years ago. It recreates scenes from the first installment with ridiculous payoffs and so much outlandishness, it’s hard not to laugh. But more importantly, they used some of the same music from the first installment for that extra bit of nostalgia – a nice touch. If Vacation could be faulted for anything, it would be the effort it exerts to be funny. Earlier Films in the Franchise were less shock-reliant, although we understand the need to adapt to changing paradigms in humour.
What makes Vacation interesting is Ed Helms taking a different approach to his acting from what we’ve seen from him. Instead of playing it safe as he does often, he goes out of his comfort zone and delivers the laughs even if the moments get a bit uncomfortable. Christina Applegate plays her role very safe and close to the chest and we wish she’d have taken more risks. The most memorable performance of the Movie however, comes unexpectedly from a Character who is not even a Griswold, but a son-in-law in Stone Crandall (Chris Hemsworth).
Vacation isn’t a Classic by any measure, but then again with John Hughes and Harold Ramis behind the original, it is a daunting task to top their work. So strap yourselves in, check all four mirrors of the Albanian Tartan Prancer, and prepare for a memorable road trip!
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release VACATION in theatres Friday, July 31, 2015.