Vacation is a summer comedy hit.
Family road trips are never easy. Nonetheless, neither is rebooting one of the most beloved comedy franchises of all-time. Put both obstacles together, and you have yourself this newest addition to the Vacation repertoire.
The Griswolds are back on the big screen for the first time in almost 20 years with another outing to America’s favorite family fun park: Walley World. However, just how Rusty Griswold breaks the fourth wall in the initial moments of the film, this Vacation installment gives its best attempt to stand on its own. How so? For starters, this cross-country road trip is actually the brainchild of Rusty, who now holds the torch of primary father figure passed down from the infamous Clark Griswold. And, this time, Rusty brings his own family to Walley World in a nostalgic attempt to relive his childhood memories on the road.
Before any cult-following fans gasp for air, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo do reprise their respective roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, and both seem to practically walk into their characters as if they never even left that realm in the first place. Well-known comedian Ed Helms also stands out in a near-perfect portrayal of Rusty, simultaneously projecting Clark’s passion of providing for his family as well as bringing a new sense of modern culture to the role. Additionally, the audience is introduced to a whole new cast of Griswolds, including Rusty’s recently-extroverted wife, Debbie (humorously played by actress Christina Applegate), and his two polar-opposite sons, James and Kevin. This doesn’t even include the massive list of celebrity appearances throughout the 99-minute running time, including everyone from Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth to even Keegan-Micahel Key and Regina Hall.
With such an all-star cast, it seems almost impossible to mess up this high-budget endeavor to bring back the “glory days”. Nonetheless, as upsetting as it is for me to say it, Vacation falls flat. Furthermore, it almost concretely sticks to the formula applied to the original film in the series, leaving nothing but just a consistent struggle to find the charm in it all.
Despite the contrary, I should mention that I did laugh, and not just once. This summer comedy really has some side-splitting moments, for sure. Nevertheless, many of the jokes try to be both redundant amounts of witty and raunchy, which is where writer/director duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein start to lose track of their intended goals with this revival.
Overall,Vacation is definitely a great concept for a typical Hollywood experiment. However, like many experiments, sometimes the formula needs to be shaken up a bit. And, unfortunately, this fifth theatrical chapter for the Griswolds feels too close to home to feel new or replenished in any type of way. Hence, it’s probably a safe bet that we will not be seeing the inside of Walley World again any time soon. And it might just be for the better.
Vacation is playing locally in and around Montclair! Some theaters include AMC Essex Green Cinema 9 in West Orange, AMC Clifton Commons 16 and even AMC Loews Wayne 14. For show times, a list of even more theaters and ticket purchases, visit fandango.com.