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VACATION | Movie Review

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VACATION | © 2015 Warner Bros. Pictures

If ain’t broke, don’t fix it

What was it that made those original VACATION flicks a charm? Aside from Chevy Chase’s comedic chops, it would have to be the subtlety among awkward situations and how an average, everyday family handed it as best they can. Road trip movies are usually a hit-or-miss, especially if the aim of it all rests on the hands of comedy. Organized and smart, no matter how ridiculous, old-school VACATION movies provided more than goofs. The element of familial structure soothed along the way no matter how dysfunctional they may have seemed – and that was part of the fun. The balance between crazy and comedy allowed you not only to relate (we’ve all been part of whacky trips with family), but also drag you along a messy journey.

That said, of all reboots and sequels unleashed during these times, I never expected VACATION to be one of the franchises tapped for one.

Following in his father’s footsteps and hoping for some much-needed family bonding, a grown-up Rusty (Ed Helms) surprises his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and their two sons with a cross-country trip back to America’s favorite family fun park, Walley World. What could go wrong?

A lot apparently, only not in a good way. As its “own film,” it does lots of things to try and pay homage to its much funnier predecessor(s) while implementing new goofs. Whether they work, or not, lies in the eyes of the beholder. At most, the comedy in this piece worked for about a quarter of it (if that), while the rest falls flat on its face, breaks its nose, and bleeds boredom. Relying more on contemporary, harsh comedy for laugher leverage, the narrative didn’t really work for it much. With a mixture of predictable, forced jokes and outcomes, there’s very little that saves this piece – not even Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo who are back to reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold. For a side-gag, VACATION also gives us a glance of Audrey’s (Leslie Mann) life which also comes off a bit sour as she’s exposed to be stuck in a strange marriage to a conservative manly-man (Chris Hemsworth) hell-bent on self-worth and wacky ideals.

While cringing at most of its humor, I’m grateful for the rare moments that did create chuckles and enjoyable cameos by Norman Redus and Charlie Day. As it tried balancing itself going between safety and edginess, VACATION doesn’t elevate the franchise in one bit. To say I hated it would be extreme, but this isn’t one I’d ever watch again.

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Grade: C- / Genre: Comedy, Remake / Rated: R / Run Time: 1:39

Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo , Steele Stebbins

Directed by: Jonathan M. Goldstein, John Francis Daley

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