Hoping to bring his family closer together and to recreate his childhood vacation for his own kids, an adult Rusty Griswold takes his wife and two sons on a cross-country road trip to Walley World. Needless to say, things don't go quite as planned.
After the Griswolds leave Clark and Ellen's Bed & Breakfast, they are seen driving north towards the Golden Gate Bridge despite Walley World being in southern California. They would be heading the opposite direction. See more »
"Vacation" stikes a great balance between honoring the original film and paving its own holiday road.
"I found out long ago. It's a long way down the holiday road." Those are the opening lyrics from the Lindsey Buckingham song that is found in all four of National Lampoon's "Vacation" movies of the 1980s and 90s. Those movies all starred Chevy Chase as the father who would stop at nothing to give his family the perfect vacation, whether it was a European vacation, a Vegas vacation, a Christmas vacation or a road trip to California's (fictional) Walley World theme park. The holiday road is indeed a long one. It led us to all those places and back and then it led us here. 32 summer vacations later, a movie called simply "Vacation" (R, 1:39) is a remake/sequel/reboot hybrid which also features Buckingham's catchy tune. The question is whether this vacation lives up to the legacy of the iconic film that shares its name.
This time, the only son of Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo) is all grown up. Rusty (Ed Helms) is a pilot for a small budget airline. Like his parents in the earlier films, he's married, has two kids and lives in Chicago. His wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), is loyal and supportive, but longs for a little more spontaneity and variety in the marriage. They have two kids, boys named James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). James is an awkward, nerdy teenager and his foul-mouthed kid brother teases him mercilessly for it. Maybe a cross-country road trip is just what this family needs to come closer together. After all, as the movie poster asks: What could go wrong? Rusty decides to drive his family all the way from Chicago to Walley World in California, recreating his family's similar (but infamous) childhood trip hopefully, with better results. Rusty starts by renting a "Prancer", a car that's even more interesting than the "Family Truckster" in the original film. It has two gas tanks, along with a plug which doesn't look like it would fit any outlet in the known universe. This boxy blue bastardized Toyota Previa has a key fob and control panel with a bewildering number and assortment of buttons and a GPS that too easily gets stuck harshly giving directions in Korean.
But taking this "Honda of Albania" out on America's highways is only the beginning of this Griswold adventure. Their ill-advised road trip involves being followed by an ominous-looking truck, being directed to a "hot spring" that really isn't, losing personal possessions, plus father and son having a sex talk that's more conjecture than fact. Stops on the trip include a very revealing visit to Debbie's old college, a river rafting trip with a highly unstable guide (Charlie Day), a visit with Rusty's grown sister, Audrey (Leslie Mann), and her hunky local TV weather man husband (Chris Hemsworth) as well as stopping at a bed-and-breakfast owned by a couple who will be very familiar to fans of the earlier films.
"Vacation" strikes a great balance between honoring its iconic origins and paving its own holiday road. The movie makes use of a few sight gags and incidents from the 1980s classic, but puts its own spin on them. The adult Rusty is every bit as earnest and bumbling as his dad, but Helms makes the character his own. As in the first film, the script makes good use of the comic potential inherent in a cross-country car trip, but doesn't copy any scenarios from the earlier movies. Despite the distractingly inappropriate amount of foul language coming from the family's youngest member, the humor, as raunchy and crude as it is, works well. While the first film's humor was often more subtle in nature, the jokes in this one are often laugh-out-loud funny.
"Vacation" has some self-referential fun as Rusty's family discusses who has heard of the original vacation and whether trying to duplicate it would just result in a big letdown. Whether an on-screen family conversation or a reflection of the thoughts of real-life moviegoers, those concerns are unfounded. The new fictional Griswolds are brought closer together by their trip and the cinematic portrayal of their misadventures is both fun & funny maybe even more than the first "Vacation". "A-"
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