Release: 14th December 2015
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Remembering fond, childhood memories of his trip to Walley World, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) surprises his wife (Christina Applegate) and two sons with a cross-country excursion to America’s favorite fun park. Following in his father’s (Chevy Chase) footsteps, Rusty and the gang pack up the car and hit the road for some much-needed family bonding. Soon, the promise of fun turns into one misadventure after another for the next generation of Griswolds and anyone who encounters them.
On a scale of one to ten, how disturbed are you by the prospect of a Chevy Chase star vehicle being remade by the guys who brought us Horrible Bosses? Thankfully, if you are on the “please, God, no!” end of that spectrum, then Vacation will be a pleasant surprise.
National Lampoon had a hyper-realistic, gross and uncouth comedy that was the golden standard from college humour in the ‘70s and ‘80s. So it makes perfect sense that someone like Ed Helms (a man who has had his beer flavoured toes dipped firmly in the modern style of this comedy for many years) would find a home with remake / reboot / sequel Vacation. Helms fills the role of poor old Rusty Griswold as he borrows a leaf from his dad’s book and drags his highly dysfunctional family on a road trip to Wally World. The results are uneven, but regularly and refreshingly funny.
Vacation has a little bit of everything. It is broad, irreverent, peculiar, crass, ironic, loud and ever so slightly absurd. This scatter shot of comedy works to the film’s benefit, as it never lingers too long on a given style or tone. The result is that Vacation is really hard to get bored with. Whether this helter-skelter journey into unpredictability was intentional is immaterial, as this is the sort of film you watch every six months of so and laugh every time. Much in the vein of recent sleeper hits such as 21 Jump Street, Pitch Perfect 2 and Let’s Be Cops; Vacation is a film that sits comfortably in the realm of “I didn’t expect that to be as enjoyable as it was.” This isn’t a film that will necessarily gain a sequel, but it probably deserves one.
Helms and Christina Applegate have proved themselves time and again in the comedy genre, so they’d be forgiven is they approached Vacation on autopilot and just cashed a cheque. But in actuality, both give Vacation everything they have; and the results are incendiary. Applegate’s Debbie Griswold is a delicate lunatic pent up with frustration and sexual energy; a time bomb of a woman who occasionally lets the porcelain veneer crack. And when it does a shower of vomit or tears usually follow. Helms, meanwhile, delves into his usual bag of tricks to deliver the goods. But his best and most hilarious moments are engaging with the Eastern European death-trap he calls a car. The rest of the supporting cast are brilliant; even Steele Stebbins, who shows no hesitation in being super bastard Kevin Griswold.
Vacation has exploding cows, poo filled water, silly in-jokes, desperate losers, and even finds time to drop in a few well placed cameos. Well worth a watch. Cue some Lindsey Buckingham…’Holiday roooooooooooaaaaaad.’
Film Grade: C
Not yet reviewed
Special Features Grade: TBA