Pretty much everyone who isn’t me has seen the classic comedy, National Lampoon’s Vacation. Well, here’s
a sequel, reboot, spinoff, remake another one.
When Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) realizes his wife (Christina Applegate) and two kids hate the cabin he takes them to on vacation each year, he’s heartbroken. Harkening back to the most memorable vacation of his childhood he decides to recreate it. So the family is off on a cross-country road trip to the massive amusement park, Walley World. That’s about it. There’s no more plot.
Coming out before my time and not being my type of flick, I never sought out the original. I can only hope it has more redeeming qualities than this one to have become such a cult classic. There’s (just about) nothing at all to like this so-called comedy.
Rusty is a buffoon who makes loving his family look like a hate crime. His wife, Debbie, is more interested in her brother-in-law (Chris Hemsworth – we’ll get to him later) than her own husband or kids. I’m not sure if the caricature that is James, the older son, is supposed to make fun of effeminate men, awkward teenagers, intellectuals, regular men, older brothers, or musicians, but I’m pretty sure he’s offensive to all of the above. The younger son, Kevin, is the epitome of bad behavior, played off for laughs. He curses, acts up, bullies, torments, and disrespects everyone in his path. Isn’t that adorable.
Ron Livingston, Leslie Mann, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Charlie Day, Key, Regina Hall, Michael Pena, Norman Reedus and other unfortunate souls also appear in some capacity or another.
There is so much to dislike about this movie, it’s tiring. For starters, nothing goes right. At all. Even when we think we’re getting a semi happy ending or two, things go wrong. This lazy sort of comedy gets really old, really fast. At one place in the film a character references the whole “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” thing. Well, in this case, the destination and the journey both really really suck. Despite the short running time, it drags on for what seems like forever.
At one point I was trying to keep a tally of all the categories of inappropriate jokes that are made. I ran out of fingers and toes. There are rape jokes, pedophile jokes, suicide jokes, and poop jokes. There are incest jokes, and inappropriate conversations with children. There are vomit gags and a deadly accident we’re supposed to laugh at. A father and son who get along are an item to be mocked. I’m just surprised we didn’t get a dead baby joke – maybe I missed it.
This movie is offensive to Albanians and weathermen. It’s offensive to anyone with a good sense of humor. It’s offensive to families, and truckers. It’s offensive to Koreans. It just tries so hard to offend anyone willing to give it a chance, and it succeeds with flying colors.
I will admit that I laughed at times, even more often than some other comedies. The laughter though, more often than not, was more of a gag reflex – I wasn’t sure what else to do in response to some of the sludge trickling down the screen. It didn’t help that the audience, apparently made up of primarily the same type of people who made this movie, greeted it with rollicking laughter throughout – sometimes, like a bad stomach bug, laughter can be contagious. Even assuming low-brow taste, I’m surprised that there were so many laughs given the fact that nearly every punch line has already been given away by the trailers for this movie.
Is there anything redeeming about this flick? Well, there’s sort of a positive-ish message at the end about family and marriage or something. Some lessons do sort of maybe get learned along the way. And there’s Chris Hemsworth. I told you we’d come back to him. His role is a treat for the ladies, to be sure. And despite his inappropriateness, he’s genuinely funny. Comedy’s a great fit for him and he brings a sort of comedic class to the table, upstaging seasoned comedians who allow themselves to be dragged through the muddy Vacation ditches. He’s memorable enough to elevate this piece of lazy, offensive garbage above being a complete and utter failure, just squeeking it barely out of the dungeon of One Hat. Barely.
Do yourself a favor and don’t pay good money for this bad movie.
Mrs. Hamster would not screen this movie
My rating: Two out of five hats (barely)
Vacation travels to 3,250 theaters, July 29