Another less than impressive remake created simply off the name of a classic 80’s film that may not have even been watched by those making this one.
Feeling his family is in a rut and needing something to change up the pace, Rusty Griswold takes his wife and sons on a trip to ‘Wally World’ to spend some quality time on the road and recreate the vacation he took with his parents as a kid.
Now this review could be taken with a grain of salt given the original series of films (minus “European Vacation”) are some of my favorite comedies of all-time. The original was a classic that I routinely watch or simply play in the background while cleaning the house of whatever. “Christmas Vacation” is one of my favorite holiday movies and there is nothing better for me than decorating the Christmas tree and watching it.
With that said when the news of a remake spread to the masses I was curious, but had little expectation that it would be anything close to the original. I still tried to go in with an open mind and wanted to give it a legitimate chance at entertaining me. After watching, I will be honest it did make me laugh on a handful of occasions but never did this one ever feel close to capturing the tone of the original. Ed Helms proved he could deliver some comical moments but he was no where near the charismatic presence that Chevy Chase was as Clark Griswold in the original series of movies.
Like my recent review of “Miami Vice” where I stated the familiar name hindered the film, you could say this one suffered the same fate as well. Had this been just a normal road-trip movie with crude humor and forced moments, the comedy attempted in this script would have shown slightly more substance, like “We’re the Millers” for example. However, being sold as a “Vacation” entry, many of the scenes came across as cheap and extremely forced. There was really no need for this one to even be considered a remake and at times the correlations to the source material seemed more like a reminder to the viewer rather than feeling like part of the story.
The cast performances were good for the most part. Ed Helms had plenty of moments to deliver mass amounts of crude and offensive humor and turned a decent amount of them into mindless laughter. For me, he just did not feel the part of a Griswold, and while the dialogue written for his character tried to deliver the message, the result was not the same comical determination Chevy Chase gave us in the original films. These constant comparisons are what hindered this movie more than anything, and even as I sat through it and laughed many times, the comedy was simply hollow and just not memorable in any way.
This one also showed the continuation of audiences finding kids cussing as comical, and this script went to that resource often as younger Kevin Griswold is called in to deliver some cheap laughs with a barrage of verbal and physical attacks on his older brother James, regardless of whether it fit into the scene properly or not. Also for being a road-tip story and there being constant over-the-top moments, it still came across as a uneventful voyage. Some of the scenarios landed well but many were missing the comical impact of scenes from the original such as – asking for directions in the ghetto and getting their car stripped, skinny-dipping at the hotel, lunch at cousin Eddie’s, the family wagon breaking down in the desert, aunt Edna dying on them during the trip, and on and on.
The cameos were some of the best moments and they easily out-shined the lead cast who were constantly trying too hard. Charlie Day came in and roused a good amount of laughs in a small dose with a hilariously energetic performance. Also, what was in my opinion the best part of the film, Chris Hemsworth as Stone Crandall. Hemsworth showed he was able to convey some comedic range and for me his delivery was the aspect of the film that was as close to familiar with the original with a somewhat subtle delivery with more innuendo, rather than right-in-your-face placement. He had a smaller role and while his portion of the story was not a solid replacement to a cousin Eddie, he was still hilarious in virtually every line he delivered.
Now don’t get me wrong, I did say this movie provided some laughs. If you are the type who likes crude, sexual and drug related humor that is relentlessly delivered then you will find some enjoyment in it. The pace keeps things moving and sure I was disappointed in the final result, but I can still say I was never bored, just never really connected to the story due to its highly generic creation. For the years that have passed since Chevy Chase created the legendary character of Clark Griswold, to have this version of a script come to the screen was surprising to me simply, because it felt uninspired.
With no connection to the source material and a different title, this road-tip comedy would have fared better because for what it was, the outrageous scenarios were good mindless humor. But as a remake of a classic, it felt forced throughout and missed the tone and feel completely. There were a couple of great scenes that had me laughing out loud but as the days pass they will be hard to remember and soon forgotten all together. “Vacation” will not be a complete waste of time but if you are watching based on your love of the original franchise, you will not be impressed.
~ Starring ~
Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Charlie Day, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key, Regina Hall
~ Directed By ~
John Francis Daley & Jonathan M. Goldstein
Length: 99 min
MPAA Rating: R (Crude and sexual content, language throughout, and brief graphic nudity)