Time to hit that “holiday road” again with the Griswolds as Warner Bros and New Line Cinema have rebooted the highly successful ’80s comedy franchise Vacation, and as I say in my video review (click the link above) that is a very good thing. The new Vacation is decidedly NOT your father’s version which starred Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo — first in 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation and followed by three theatrical sequels. Now the plot has Rusty, the son in those films, all grown up with a family of his own and nostalgic pinings to re-live the vacation of his youth and take his own brood on a road trip to the mythical California amusement park Walley World.
Ed Helms is ideal casting as the well-meaning Rusty, who can’t seem to do anything right. Christina Applegate is his equal as wife Debbie. The two boys (it was a boy and girl the first time around) are inspired casting with younger brother Steele Stebbins constantly terrorizing his older, more laid back sibling played nicely by Skyler Gisondo. The new film, from writer-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Horrible Bosses and now Spider-Man screenwriters), gets it all right for lovers of raunchy, ribald, go-for-broke comedy.
If the first films were in the family mode, this one is definitely deserving of its R rating. I understand there was an attempt to do a softer PG13 script at one point, but the edge of the comedy was lost so producers decided this was the ticket. I think they are right. It is a beer-chugging, cow-murdering, human-waste-bathing raucous delight that had me — and the audience I saw it with — laughing all the way. Particularly funny was a stop at Rusty’s sister’s house (Leslie Mann) where Chris Hemsworth gets to reveal true comic talent as her dim-witted weatherman husband. He goes for it — and it pays off in big laughs. Also back are Chase and D’Angelo for an extended cameo near the end of the film. They haven’t lost their touch and it’s nice to see them back as the senior Griswolds.
David Dobkin and Chris Bender produced the film which got a great send-off for exhibitors when Warner Bros featured scenes in their CinemaCon presentation in April in Las Vegas. The film was even moved up for more prime summer playtime, and I believe based on the final results the promise has been fulfilled. What ultimately makes it really work well is that despite all the mayhem it encounters and brings on itself, this family is recognizable and real. You root for them and you identify with them. I say bring it on.
Warner Bros releases the film tomorrow. Do you plan to see it? Lets us know what you think.