Halfway between sequel and reboot lies Vacation, a humorlessly uncouth retread of the 1983 Harold Ramis classic, which swaps out the heart of the original film for … well, nothing. This movie is as soulless as they come, barely worth the words I’m expending upon it now.
Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms, who is never funny YEAH I SAID IT) is taking his family to Walley World. He claims it’s because he wants to bond with his family much like his own father had done so many years ago, but it’s actually because he’s an idiot who doesn’t understand things. His wife Debbie (Christina Applegate, who is much, much better than this garbage) is feeling lost in her marriage. Vacation wants us to think it’s a communication issue, but in reality it’s because she’s married to an idiot. Their two sons, whose names I can’t remember because this script is trash, are easy to hate. The younger one is a foul monster who is constantly bullying his older brother, a whiny caricature of awkward teen angst. Anywho, since the younger brother bullies the older brother it’s supposed to be funny. It’s not. One wonders if they’d be less insufferable if their dad weren’t a complete idiot.
The Griswolds of the original film and its many sequels (all of which I’ve enjoyed, more or less) felt like a family. More importantly, they felt like my family. And the reason why the original film is invariably on TV at any given moment is because everyone feels this connection. The Griswolds represented the typical suburban family. But if the 2015 Griswolds represent today’s typical suburban family, I suggest that we poison the well, because we are doomed.
There are a handful of cameos which threaten to provide entertainment value, but each are squelched to the point of embarrassment by the atrocious script. Yes, “Asperger’s” sounds like “assburgers” and no it isn’t funny now, nor was it funny back when that tired joke was first made, likely in the seconds after the syndrome was named.
Even the most cash-grabby cash-grabs tend to have some sort of consideration for their audience, usually in the form of a well-intentioned effort. Jurassic World is a great example of this. Vacation, on the other hand, seems to hate its audience, or at the very least considers them idiots, just like Rusty Griswold.
Nobody, short of whoever designed the opening credits, put any effort into this movie. Thank goodness for Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” If not for the catchy melody of what has ostensibly become the Vacation theme, there would be nothing to enjoy here. Take a staycation on this one, folks.
Vacation opens in Philly area theaters today.
Author: Dan Scully
Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.