HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:82
Very few times do sequels/reboots made decades after the ending of the original series ever end up being as good as the first ones. “National Lampoon’s: Vacation” is a bona fide classic comedy. “Christmas Vacation” is a close second, and in some ways superior to the first, as it had time to polish the humor that made the first “Vacation” so distinctive. Also it happened to be in a time period where Chevy Chase was actually considered funny. Fast forwards a FEWWW decades and we have “Vacation”, a sort of half sequel, half reboot that follows Rusty and his family on another nationwide rode trip to Wally World, the haven of all insane fathers who want to take their kids on an awful vacation. Does “Vacation” live up to the first couple of movies with Chevy? No, that’s a definite no, as the movie is drastically different in tone and humor to those old classics. However, the film manages to stand on its own as a road trip comedy and makes some clever Meta jokes along the way in regards to its predecessors that ACTUALLY work pretty well.
Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is all grown up now, and has a family of his own. A Beautiful wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). Rusty’s little haven of happiness is about as twisted and dysfunctional as his childhood was, as Debbie is obviously feeling a little bored with their marriage and younger brother Kevin is absolutely BRUTAL to sensitive and slightly effeminate James. Realizing that they’ve gone to the same vacation spot for the last dozen years, Rusty decides to do the unthinkable. Take his family on that fateful journey to Wally World, theme park of California, and a recipe for pure disaster.
Grabbing a junky Albanian car (hmmm, that sounds familiar) and heading across country, the family runs into just about EVERYTHING that could go wrong. Getting robbed at a “hots springs”, which actually turns out to be a human waste dump, starts them off on a bad foot and things only get worse from there. Visiting Aunt Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her husband Stone (Chris Hemsworth) just reminds Rusty what a “failure” he is at many things, and poor James has to put up with Kevin abusing him silly while they drive. To make matters worse, James has a crush on another traveler, who somehow mimics their route, and his ineptitude (and his father’s stupidity) makes for a horrifying attempt at romance.
“Vacation” actually surprised me. With a rotten tomatoes score of 26% and critics everywhere just pummeling the film into the ground, I expected a train wreck of a film. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing it to the original “Vacation” at all, as the two are almost in different universes humor wise. However there is some Meta moments in the film and a few “wink wink” remakes of the original moments that are quite funny. There’s the famous scene where Clark is flirting with the young girl in the hot rod on the freeway, and Ed Helms mimics that scene almost beat for beat, just with a decidedly hilarious different ending. Same goes for James having a sort of ongoing romance with another traveler. This time Ed Helm tries to step in as wingman for his son and turns it into a creepy little encounter that had me rewinding and re watching a half dozen times (you’ll know the scene when you get to it).
When the movie is funny, it’s REALLY funny. Like, laugh out loud and hold onto your sides as they’re aching type of funny. Ed Helms plays to his strengths here and portrays Rusty as a complete and utter moron, just with a dirtier mouth than even Chevy pulled off. “National Lampoon’s: Vacation” was a hard R rated comedy, but the sequels softened up quite a bit, and gradually turned milder and milder. “Vacation” takes a quick detour and shoots right back into a very hard R-rating as well, with even more crudity and poor taste jokes than before. There’s some awesome cameos from several well known actors, the main one being Norman Reedus (Darryl from “The Walking Dead”) as a creepy truck driver, and Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as Clark and Beverly. Unfortunately Chevy and Beverly are relegated to just tiny cameos and their scene really didn’t do a whole lot for the movie, especially since the final act kind of petered out a bit.
As I said, when it’s funny, the movie is FUNNY, but there were some REALLY bad moments as well. The first 2 acts of the movie were a lot of fun, but once they got to the white water rapids scene with Charlie Day, it started to dip quite a bit. Charlie Day can be a bit grating on the nerves, but here he was almost insufferable. By the time we get to Beverly and Chevy, I was getting kind of bored. Not to mention that the “Seal” joke got pounded into the ground. Once or twice is fine, but the 3rd and 4th time it was just “ok, this AGAIN?”.
Rated R for crude and sexual content and language throughout, and brief graphic nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=57169[/img]“Vacation” is like a lot of new releases. With good digital photography and a high enough budget, 99% of new releases look fantastic. “Vacation” is no different with a stunning transfer that leaves little to the imagination. The resulting image is nice and warm, with an ever so slight red push to the picture, and lots of crisp and clear detail across the board. Facial detail is fantastic, showing off every little bit of detail in close-ups, and longshots look almost as impressive (although there is a hint of softness here and there in said further away shots). Colors are well saturated and contrast levels are excellent. I have no complaints from the blacks either, giving deep inky blacks that are filled with great shadow detail. I noticed a flicker of banding here and there, but only occasionally so it wasn’t too obtrusive.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=57177[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is a rambunctious little track, much more so than I originally anticipated. Dialog is clean and clear of distortions, just as expected, and surrounds usage is rather high. There’s more than enough hijinks and shenanigans to create a fully immersive experience. Especially when you have Rusty and Stone crashing through a heard of cows, or their Albanian death machine of a car flipping head over heels as they try to escape a crazed truck driver. LFE is nice and powerful, never making itself overly known, but adding a lot of weight to said hijinks and shenanigans.
• Return to Walley World
• The Griswold Odyssey
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
“Vacation” is not a revolutionary comedy, but it was a LOT of fun. Much more than I ever expected from the trailers. There are certainly some really cringe worthy moments, and it’s definitely not for those who don’t like raunchy comedies, but there is a lot going for it. Ed Helms is at his best and the supporting cast do really welly. James and Kevin played off of each amazingly well, and I was literally dying (ok, maybe not LITERALLY) over Kevin’s brutal and totally off the wall abuses of James. Audio and video are fantastic, and there’s some decent extras on the list. If you’re a fan of dirty comedies, I’d say its well worth checking out.
Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo
Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein
Written By: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Runtime: 99 Minutes
Own Vacation on Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD on November 3rd or Own It Early on Digital HD on October 13th!
Buy Vacation Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Fun Watch
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