Rachel Smith ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
This is not National Lampoon’s Vacation, and that’s okay. Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) steps into his father’s footsteps in this remake of the Chevy Chase classic. He and his wife Debbi (Christina Applegate) have two sons who they seemingly have no control over. The family dynamics are laughable, almost to an unbelievable point.
When Rusty faces the realization that he and his family are not as close as he thought, he wants their annual vacation to be a real bonding experience. When he finds out that the whole family hates the usual summer cabin trip he decides to secretly change it to a road trip to Wally World, an amusement park a thousand miles away. He is trying to recreate a trip he took years ago and the writers make a tip of the hat joke to the fact the movie is essentially a remake.
Ed Helms does a pretty good job in the lead role. Fans of The Office will see fleeting glimpses of Andy Bernard in his portrayal of Rusty. He is a safe kind of guy who followed a very simple life plan until his wife questions the strength of their relationship. Helms and Applegate play reasonably well off each other. The viewer learns throughout the film that she has a more explicit past that he is weary but also a bit envious of. Throughout the trip he is trying to find a common ground between him and his sons, and putting the fire into the relationship with his wife. These efforts are met with disaster.
The parent side of this dynamic isn’t really there. Rusty tries to give fatherly advice and even tries to be wingman to his awkward, pubescent son but it is all misconstrued nonsense. Most of these conversations and attempts at a connection are solid comedic moments but Rusty doesn’t come across as a plausible father.
The other family members from the original do make appearances. Leslie Mann plays Rusty’s sister Audrey. Chris Hemsworth plays Stone Crandell. He is hilarious and absolutely steals the show during the Griswold’s pit stop in Texas. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo also cameo as Rusty’s parents who now run a bed and breakfast Chase may look older but he seamlessly steps back into his role as Clark, and the scene does a nice job of tying the old with the new.
In the end, the film holds its own. Shock comedy is rampant; there are explosions, physical comedy, violent deaths, and a whole lot of sex jokes. However, one thing the film tries to do is make the jokes serve a purpose and the result is hit or miss. The cast is strong. Overall, Vacation is a summer comedy for both the old fans and the uninitiated.
Overall Grade: B-
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