In the age of high speed media and quick travel, does car travel even sound fun? Plane travel tends to be the norm when traveling cross country or even a couple of states, but the idea of traveling in a car seem dated. That’s not to say it can work, but there better be a good reason why traveling for hours in a vehicle is better then a plane. I myself would rather fly or even take a train, but I’ve managed to go on certain car trips and even drive the majority of them. The misery of car travel can be emphasized by watching National Lampoon’s Vacation.
In 1983, John Hughes and Harold Ramis combined their comedic talents along with star Chevy Chase to create the salute and satire of taking a family on a road trip. It remains one of the funniest movies of all time because we still understand plenty problems that were addressed like traveling with an animal, meeting up with crazy relatives and dealing with the disappointment of landmarks that aren’t as good as originally intended. This is one film that I always felt could have used a modern remake. Instead, we get a reboot/sequel with Vacation.
Rusty Griswold (played by Ed Helms), the son from the previous four Vacation movies, now has a family of his own and is working a meek job as an airline pilot for an economy airline. His wife Debbie (played by Christina Applegate) and two boy, the older and weak James and younger and vulgar Kevin, have a dysfunctional relationship with Rusty and consider him a dweeb. This doesn’t help one evening when they have neighbors over and they brag about their trip to Paris while Rusty boasts about the annual family cabin trip. It’s clear that Rusty is the only one excited for it as the rest of the family has become board of the trip.
When Rusty realizes that the family would rather do something different for the summer, he decides to recreate the cross country road trip to Wally World that he made back in 1983 from the first movie. He secures another ugly vehicle (the Tartan Prancer, the Honda of Albania) and embarks on many sites that lead from a suicidal rafting guide (played by Charlie Day) to a crazy truck driver stalking the family. They even meet up with his sister Audrey (played by Leslie Mann) and her husband Stone (played by Chris Hemsworth) and even his parents Clark and Ellen (played by Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo)
What the new Vacation misses about the original movie was that there needs to be a family-like sweetness that makes the trip worthwhile. I saw none of that as the movie’s scenes seem to play out in one gross out scene, then dialogue, then another gross out scene and so on until the ending. The original may have had some gross out gags as well, but they were not the majority.
The other problem was that Chevy Chase and his family were fun to follow for four movies. This family is the kind you move away from. Ed Helms is trying his hardest to be Chevy Chase but that wasn’t what Rusty was like. Christina Applegate and the two boys aren’t that interesting either; they are just bland family stereotypes. The best parts of the movie are the cameos, and there are a lot of them. I would rather stay with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo to see how their bed and breakfast is going. At least their generally funny as apposed to the forced gross humor the movie keeps pushing on us.
I’ll give this one and a half empty gas tanks out of five. Vacation is no holiday road and may want to stay home next time.