Vacation (Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, 2015)

The newest addition to the Vacation legacy is an attempt to reboot the previously successful franchise and bring the story to a whole new audience. It’s a shame then that it fails to do either and also tarnishes the memory of the originals in the process.

It stars Ed Helms as the now grown up Rusty, who we know as the son of the old Griswold family. He now has a family of his own to look after. Following in his father’s footsteps, he decides to reboot their family bonds by taking his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two sons Kevin (Steve Stebbins) and James (Skyler Gisondo) to Walley World. Hilarity ensues.

The opening twenty minutes or so as they set up the characters is delivered in a very tedious manner and doesn’t really achieve the desired results of showing a truly dysfunctional family. There are some cheap gags as the four family members conform to some stereotypical character traits before the real action gets going and some fun starts, but to have such a slow start to a big summer comedy is a risky move that contributes to the film’s downfall.

The best moments come when the Griswolds interact with other characters appearing in cameo roles. Most notable are Chris Hemsworth as Stone, the well-endowed brother-in-law, and Charlie Day as Chad, a depressive river rafting guide. Both spawn some great moments that are let down by the punctuating gags between about rim jobs and swimming in poo.

The lowest point is when Chevy Chase appears in a wholly unfunny late scene. Watching him attempt to make the removal of a medium sized guitar from a large cabinet look awkward and clumsy for over ten seconds is simply excruciating.

It’s a valiant attempt to bring the kind of humour that made the originals so successful to a new audience but it actually tarnishes the originals as I’m now questioning whether they were all of this quality. Avoid this film unless your main priorities are familiarity with a rehashed storyline and a lack of anything remotely thought-provoking.

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