A planned family vacation turned into a series of unfortunate events for the Griswold family in National Lampoon’s Vacation, the latest installment of the franchise’s Vacation series. After finding out his family is tired of visiting the same old cabin each summer, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) decides they need to spend quality time together and convinces them to take a cross country road trip to the theme park Walley World, a favorite destination from Rusty’s childhood, before it closes permanently.
His wife, Debbie (Christina Appelgate) and two sons, James and Kevin, (Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins, respectively) are less than enthused with the prospect of spending countless hours in a car together. Debbie, a dissatisfied housewife, longs for an exotic vacation to Paris and questions if Rusty wants to visit Walley World because he truly wants quality family time or wants to relive his childhood.
James and Kevin hardly get along because Kevin, the younger sibling, often bullies and torments his older brother. The torment is so incessant that Kevin enjoys putting plastic bags over James’ head just to see how long he can hold his breath. Nevertheless, Rusty and his family endure a seemingly disastrous road trip in a car that can only be seen as a death trap and filled with events such as sorority obstacle courses, being stalked by a tractor trailer, and a stomach-churning trip to Hot Springs.
While Vacation is predictable and slightly underwhelming, the movie carries a charm that I think made it an enjoyable movie. The film flips the conventional “older brother bullies the younger brother” shtick and it works for most of the movie. I didn’t care for the use of a love story for the older sibling in order to solve his issues with his younger one. I think that subplot could have been better executed if it had been resolved within their family.
The film’s better comedic moments can be credited to appearances by Nick Kroll, Keegan Michael-Key, Michael Peña, and Charlie Day. Chris Hemsworth also makes an appearance as Rusty’s southern, rich and attractive brother-in-law and is actually pretty funny. Or maybe he was just really pretty and that made me think he was really funny.
Viewers who have seen the first Vacation film may enjoy the cameos by Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. I assume they appeared in the movie to stir up nostalgia to people who are familiar with the franchise. However I didn’t think their characters were necessary to the plot of the movie.
Overall, I think this film is good enough for a matinee screening. The gags may have run on for too long in some instances, but the film isn’t terrible. I came into this movie knowing exactly what I was getting and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me a lot of the 2013 comedy ‘We’re the Millers’, which starred Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston. If you enjoyed that, then you would enjoy this movie as well.
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