Vacation (2015) Review

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A hot take on remakes of classic comedies: DUMBASSERY. As my rant on Poltergeist made clear, I’m not a fan of lazy remakes that imitate the original or do nothing with an updated time. Vacation, remake of Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon classic, falls into the latter category but mercifully saves itself from some ol’ bullshit with pretty well done farcical stunts…but little else to go on.

So Rusty Griswold, son of Chevy Chase’s character and now played by EdHelms, finds his family to be disconnected with his two sons fighting each other (mostly the younger one being a sociopath who torments his older, socially awkward brother) and his wife being bored with family life. He decides to take his family to his old favorite vacation as a kid, Wally World (the journey end of the 1980s film). A totally different journey is promised…yeah right.

As a remake of the original, this new version really doesn’t have the belly laughs that its predecessors had. Not helping is that the family in this version are either imbeciles or assholes. Ed Helms plays a completely clueless father who has varying degrees of social ineptitude. He goes between not knowing how to describe a rim job to his son to being eager to describe a glory hole to his other son. His wife, played by Christina Applegate, doesn’t have a whole lot to do except for one decent scene with her reliving her college days.

The kids in this are thoroughly unrelatable. The eldest brother is meek and loaded with social peculiarities while his younger brother crosses the line in bullying him by coming close to murdering him in the car with his oblivious parents. At least the younger one cusses like a sailor, and he’s got some spot on delivery at times.

It’s just a shame he and everyone else are working on a pretty bad script. Hardly any of the verbal jokes work or even come close to giving you a chuckle. Plus the script makes everyone in this movie throughly unlikable. This is particularly troubling since the writers of this movie are going to be scripting the next Spider-Man reboot…yeah looks we’re gonna get another reboot faster than we had anticipated.

What really saves this film are a bunch of farcical gags that kept me from sitting in the theater like a stone-faced gargoyle. Running the gamut of shit jokes, dick jokes, and some truly dark shit, these manage to elevate this film far above the atrocity that was Pixels. Plus you got a bunch of great cameos from Norman Reedus, Charlie Day, Leslie Mann, and Chris Hemsworth (and his massive schlong).

The only cameo that doesn’t work is Chevy Chase towards the end. The guy really is terrible in this, continuing his further descent into being an unfunny, crochety old man. He tries doing some slap stick to liven up the production, but it comes across as more sad than anything else.

Still, some jokes did work in there, so I’ll say skip this one in theaters and wait for the remake as a…

RENTAL.

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