** out of 4 stars
One of the toughest assignments in Hollywood other than producing a blockbuster film is to reboot a 30 year old film franchise. Especially if the film was a big comic hit. The first problem you’re battling is the fact that expectations are set so high it’s very tough to meet that plateau. The second problem is that if you change the script substantially then it’s no longer a reboot but in fact a new movie, which would have nothing to do with the original. So writers and directors have to walk a fine line in order to try to bring the fun of the original to a new film with the same theme.
This is the problem with Vacation. The film, which is supposed to stand on its own legs, finds itself leaning too much on its predecessor. They use similar scenes and gags from the original movie and try to add in some new ones but it just doesn’t work. The cast finds themselves at times performing stupid slapstick without knowing what direction to take. There was so much more that could have been done if the writers had taken it to a higher level.
The story is based upon the original film National Lampoon’s Vacation. National Lampoon was an original humor magazine from 1970-1998 and was responsible for the some great comedy classic. And how couldn’t they with such comedians such as Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis & Richard Belzer working with them? One of the first movies they released was the 1978 classic Animal House. Following that success (after some failures) the film National Lampoon’s Vacation was based on John Hughes’ story titled “Vacation 58”. This movie’s financial success yielded the “Vacation” franchise.
Repeating the story of the original film, the Griswald family, Rusty, Debbie, James and Kevin (Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins) once again decides to take a road trip to visit Wally World and see how many problems they can get into along the way. The biggest problem with this premise is that Rusty Griswald (now the father), is an airline pilot for a low budget US airline. Since everyone knows that airline employees and their family fly for free, why didn’t they just fly? Now that would’ve been a more interesting premise but to repeat the road trip of almost 40 years ago with the same shenanigans plus a few new ones, just doesn’t cut it. The co-writers/co-directors team of Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daily, had the opportunity of bringing so many new ideas with this film but they just chickened out and took the short route by mimicking the original movie with disastrous results. Sure there were some funny scenes (I counted two really great ones) but the rest of the movie was flat and you were just waiting for the trip to be over. At one point someone in the family says “let’s just go home” and I was agreeing with them. Enough is enough but this is Vacation so the stupid road trip continues to the end.
If you got nothing to do for the weekend then by all means go see this movie but if you’re smarter and wiser I would just stay home and wait till it comes out to a television near you. That way if you’re bored you can always hit the pause button go cook yourself dinner and then return to the movie. This brainless film does not require your uninterrupted attention. On the other hand if you know of a friend that has the original, watch it instead. It’s a far better film.