August 6, 2015

Movie Review: Vacation (2015)

I am not against the idea of remakes or reboots. Sure, the majority seem to turn out rubbish, but some of them actually turn out to be good. It's all right, you can stop laughing now. Now, the idea of giving the Vacation franchise some life by having the kids take over is a good one. The problem is that the execution of this idea is just awful. I suspect it is a product of its time, but that doesn't make it any better. This new take on Vacation follows a very similar path of the original, only meaner. It just doesn't work. Yes, there are a couple of chuckles to be had, but I was more looking forward to the end credits.

In 1983, John Hughes and Harold Ramis gave us the story of a man with a plan to bring his family closer together by taking them on a road trip to an amusement park. Thirty-two years later, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein (the team behind the Horrible Bosses movies and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) have given us the story of a man with a plan to bring his family together by taking them on a road trip to an amusement park. If you watch both of these movies you can see how the same concept can be executed in such differing ways.

Ed Helms is Rusty Griswold, the son of the original films, all grown up with a family of his own. His wife is named Debbie (Christina Applegate) and they have two sons, the elder sensitive James (Skyler Gisondo) and the younger bully Kevin (Steele Stebbins). They proceed to engage in a steady stream of vulgar jokes and unfunny situations as they make their way across the country. There is one amusing bit where they cross paths with Rusty's older sister, Audrey (Leslie Mann), and her husband, Stone (Chris Hemsworth). Although, it feels like a setup for a sequel.

The formula is there. Nothing about this Vacation is particularly surprising. If you are looking for a laugh a minute comedy, you are not going to find it here. This has mrore cringes per minute than laughs. I do think it is a reflection of the time in which it was made, it has a bit of cynicism and a mean streak below the surface. It was just not all that funny.

The one bright spot in the film is Christina Applegate. She was pretty funny and a seemingly game for whatever they happened to throw at her. Ed Helms, on the other hand, does not fare as well. He is going for that Chevy Chase thing, and it just isn't working, he is just there being mostly unfunny. I have to wonder if they thought about using any of the original kids? There was a gag early on as we see family photos from the previous films with the other kids who played the roles over the years. That was funny, as well as the other few self-referential moments, but as quickly as they are there, they are gone.

Vacation, the 2015 edition, is not a good movie. It may be fun to watch if you are not interested in quality and you try not to think about the original. Mean spirited comedy can work, but here it is just mean and did not sit well with me. The best thing to do with this one is to let it sit there and enjoy the original. They may have wanted to pay tribute to the original while standing on its own, but it just fails to come together.

Not Recommended.

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