“Vacation,” the sequel released earlier this summer, follows an adult Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) as he attempts to bring his family together. He plans a cross-country trip to Wally World, much like the original, with hilarity supposedly ensuing as they made their journey. And one would think with the supporting talents of Chris Hemsworth, Norman Reedus and Chevy Chase, “Vacation” would have been an above average film. The movie could have been the spiritual successor to 1983’s original; however it fell short of every expectation I had.
Take the opening for example. The movie begins in the cockpit of a commercial airliner where Griswold pilots the plane. He leaves the cockpit in order to go use the restroom, leaving his co-pilot to fly. His co-pilot, an older gentlemen, thanks Rusty for going to bat for him.
Rusty responds with a very heartfelt “you’re welcome,” and soon, it becomes clear the elderly man in the co-pilot’s chair suffers from some form of memory loss as he repeats himself three times.
Then, in an attempt to salvage the joke, the writers threw in a cheap physical gag which led to the first profane word in the film. When a movie resorts to cheap laughs and shock value within the first five minutes, it normally doesn’t bode well for the rest of the film.
At home, Rusty is planning to spice up his relationship with his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), by substituting their annual trip to their cabin with the vacation that he took with his family in the original. The audience also gets to see where Rusty’s sister ended up after she had grown up.
Audrey Griswold (Leslie Mann) married Stone Crandall (Chris Hemsworth) and moved to a relatively large ranch. One of the funnier moments was seeing Ed Helms attempt to herd cows with a four-wheeler and failing miserably. Unfortunately, it felt like the writers focused too much on the comedy and not enough on the main conflict.
The main conflict in the original was simple; Clark Griswold is traveling with his family cross-country and gets distracted along the way. Eventually he would arrive only to find Wally World closed. The conflict in this movie was almost exactly the same as in the old one with a change in the ending and the mishaps that take place.
One such mishap happens on the highway when Rusty attempts to communicate with a trucker driving behind him, via a CB radio he has in his car. Eventually, his child tries to communicate with the trucker and instead insults him. Rusty takes the radio back and apologizes when the truck tries to run them off the highway before finally driving past them. The trucker continued to show up throughout the film, but did not show his face until closer to the end.
The trucker, played by a familiar zombie slayer, is a nice highlight. When they arrive on the west coast, the Griswolds are dropped off at a small inn run by none other than Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen Griswold (Beverly D’Angelo). Unfortunately, Chase and D’Angelo make their cameos in the last 10 minutes of the film and by that point it was too little too late.
“Vacation” had the potential to be a funny movie, but the writing focused far too heavily on the comedy and less on the actual storyline. It also didn’t help that the trailers painted a vastly different picture than what the finished product was. There were a few moments in the film that were funny, however, by and large the film was not consistent and spent a lot of time with unnecessary distractions. In the end, “Vacation” did little more than leave a bad taste in my mouth and I would not recommend this film to anyone.
William Stevens is a Senior Staff Writer for The Spectator.