Vacation isn’t a great movie. It tries but it fails, however the script is about two drafts away from being finished and many of the broad jokes miss the mark. Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley’s film has a few good moments but it can’t rise to the comedy gold of the previous Chevy Chase movies (except maybe Vegas Vacation). Ed Helms is Rusty Griswold (son of Chase’s accident prone Clark), the family man intent on reliving his memorable vacation to Wally World. Rusty packs -up his wife and kids (Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo and Steele Gisondo) into a dodgy rental car and sets out on the road – but things don’t go as planned. It’s effectively a 21st century remake of of the Harold Ramis directed/John Hughes written National Lampoon’s Vacation. Only not as good (obviously).
The right elements are there for Vacation to deliver, but the film is just a little hollow. The riffs on the previous entries in the franchise offer the best moments and the rest of it just feels a bit too laboured and disjointed. This reboot tries to make Ed Helms Chevy Chase 2.0 but sadly Helms lacks the charisma that Chase had in his prime. He tries, but he’s a supporting actor shoehorned into a leading role. Applegate fares much better as his wife, while a cameo from Chris Hemsworth injects some energy into the film’s sagging mid-section.
Fans of the original Vacation movies get to catch-up with Rusty’s Clark and Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) in the film’s last act and that might just be the highlight of the movie – however it’s sad to see how time has aged them. Their appearance pretty much ends the movie and therefore the actual finale feels limp and tacked-on. Might a comedy with Clark and Ellen taking their grandkids on vacation have fared better on a narrative level? Probably, but we have what we have.
Vacation is a so-so comedy. It just about does the trick but you might just be better off digging out your copy of National Lampoon’s Vacation instead.
The Vacation Blu-ray comes with lengthy interviews and behind the scenes bits and pieces, a fair few deleted scenes and a gag reel. Solid.