Directors: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Screenplay: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Charlie Day, Catherine Missal, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key, Regina Hall, E’Myri Crutchfield, Alkoya Brunson, Hannah Davis
Running Length: 98 minutes
Synopsis: The next generation of Griswolds is at it again – and on the road for another ill-fated adventure. Following in his father’s footsteps and hoping for some much-needed family
bonding, a grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) surprises his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate), and their two sons with a cross-country trip back to America’s “favourite family fun park”, Walley World.
Review: It has been 32 years since the first Vacation movie opened, and while it is surprising (in this age of remakes and reboots) that a sequel to the franchise hasn’t come along in quite some time (the last official installment being National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2 back in 2003), this new Vacation actually manages to do very well for itself. Of course, this is also because the expectations for such a movie is quite simple – it just needs to be entertaining and funny, and in these aspects the movie more than delivers.
Shifting focus from Clark Griswold to his son Rusty, now played by Ed Helms, the premise remains largely the same – Rusty is on a quest to bring his family on a road trip to Walley World, and hilarity ensues. Sure, it’s a wildly inconsistent film that perhaps gave away a little too much in its trailers, but when it hits a comedic sweet spot, Vacation can be a truly hilarious experience. Like most comedies of our era, this new episode of Vacation does delve a bit deeper into gross-out and scatological humour that its predecessors, but at least they are well-executed gags (Christina Applegate’s unfortunate visit to her alma mater is a particularly noteworthy one).
It’s to Goldstein and Daley’s credit that they have managed to find some new material for such a well-treaded subgenre – having the younger sibling be the bully is an inspired choice, for example, and breathes new life into the family dynamics of the Griswolds. There are also a good number of cameo appearances, and almost all these don’t disappoint either. Without going into spoilers, the Michael Day sequence as a white water rafting guide is both filmed innovatively and manages to bring on the belly laughs. Of course, it would be a crime not to mention Chris Hemsworth’s cameo as the extremely well-endowed Stone Crandall, and for some this extended sequence with Stone and Rusty’s sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) alone would be worth the price of admission.
Although Vacation starts to flag and lose the energy in its final reel, there’s enough goodwill in the lead up to not make the film feel like a total bust. There’s a nice, affable chemistry amongst the members of the Griswold family, and together with the high hit to miss ratio for the comedic elements, makes Vacation a worthy successor to the Vacation series and a fun cinematic experience for the grown-ups (its M18 rating is a well-deserved one), even if it doesn’t really come close to the iconic status and cultural relevance of the first film.
Rating: * * * (out of four stars)