Vacation

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Vacation, is this what we wanted? Vacation, is this worth your pay? Vacation, next reboot of ‘Home Alone’  — Belinda Carlisle/Josh Board

 

Vacation was one of the first of the John Hughes comedies in the ‘80s that was huge. It was mediocre, but had a few laughs; and a sexy Christy Brinkley in a red Ferrari. The Ferrari scene in this is hysterical, and…surprisingly many of the jokes are inventive. Some sight gags feel like they could’ve fit nicely into some classic comedies. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot that fall flat, or are rather crass. In fact, one scene with the Griswold’s swimming in sewage is just gross.

Chevy Chase shows up briefly, but this movie is about Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms), his son. He does a decent job playing the same type of character – a clueless guy who means well, despite everything going to hell.

The crowd laughs when they see the old station wagon (a vehicle used in the much funnier and underrated The Way Way Back).

Rusty is a pilot for a small airline, and the idea of driving on a road trip seems the perfect way to relax. There are some laughs at the bizarre hybrid he rents. Of course, they’re driving to Wally World, with wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and his two sons. One joke, taken straight out of the Hangover series, has them talking about how this “Vacation” will be different than the other vacation.

The sibling rivalry is a bit of fun. The older son (Skyler Gisondo) is a guitar playing, sensitive, peacenik. The younger brother Kevin (Steele Stebbins) steals the movie. He’s the bratty one that makes fun of everything his older brother says. When his older brother romanticizes what this vacation will be like, quoting Jack Kerouac, Kevin slaps him and yells, “Stop saying stupid stuff!”

Of course, we’ve all laughed in the trailers when he imitates his brother, as he attempts to talk to a pretty girl at the dinner table (in a scene that gives us the always welcome Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peele, a show that’s unfortunately ending it’s run soon).

Chris Hemsworth is a bit of fun as the good looking brother-in-law that Debbie seems to be attracted to. It’s a character we’ve seen in many other films. Remember Mark Wahlberg catching Tina Fey’s eye in Date Night? He’ll also remind you of Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. It’s a nice detour on their journey, but where the audience will laugh is the Dirk Diggler scene. I enjoyed listening to him talk about a guitar given to him by Bob Dylan.

Vomiting on screen isn’t all that funny, but the scene in Trainwreck worked, and so does the projectile vomiting here. This occurs when the family stops at Debbie’s old sorority. A party is going on, and she wants to prove she’s not just an old housewife. I won’t ruin it by describing what happens, but it’s great slapstick.

Just as Chevy Chase was the only thing that wasn’t funny in Hot Tub Time Machine, he and former Vacation co-star Beverly D’Angelo add nothing to their brief appearances. In fact, it actually takes away from the proceedings. The filmmakers should’ve tried to get that nutjob Randy Quaid back into the country for a cameo. I would’ve loved to see him swimming in the sewage.

Ron Livingston shows up, but doesn’t have any good lines.

Charlie Day makes an appearance, and can always crack us up just by the sound of his voice.

We hear that familiar theme song Lindsay Buckingham gave us, and there’s an interesting use of the Chariots of Fire theme. The best moment from the soundtrack belongs to the use of Seals and Krofts, though. I’ll take the two times “Seals” over the Seal that Helms kept singing in the movie.

Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh provided the additional music for the soundtrack.

The film is a sloppy, written by the guys that gave us the Horrible Bosses films. This is funnier than both those movies.

Even though it didn’t all work, I laughed enough to give it 3 stars out of 5.

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