Rebooting a classic, Vacation fails to hit the mark but the family dynamics are fairly realistic given today’s world.
Vacation wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen either but largely fails in its mission to bring an awkward family together for a little quality time.We catch up with Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) from the start, an Econoair pilot working regional flights to and from Chicago. With a wife and two sons (played by Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, and Steele Stebbins), the Griswolds are the typical suburban family, in need of a little shaking up. Stebbins’ Kevin Griswold, the younger of the two boys, is a sadly believable modern kid. He’s swearing up and down, is rude and ungrateful, and actually bullies his older brother (Gisondo) for being a bit of a nerd. Debbie, Rusty’s wife, feels in a bit of a marital rut. In an effort to bond, Rusty plans a family vacation to Wally World, driving the latest in Albanian car technology, the Prancer.As expected, the journey from Chicago to Southern California is fraught with family foibles. From the dodgy semi-truck driver to the infamous Griswold Springs, the family’s patience is tested time and time again. After having their baggage stolen, taking a visit to see Rusty’s sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her southern conservative husband Stone (Chris Hemsworth), and blowing up the Prancer, the Griswolds finally reach their breaking point. Meeting up with Rusty’s parents, Clark and Ellen (Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, reprising their roles from the original 'Vacation' movies), Rusty’s optimism is revived, and the journey to Wally World forges ahead.
In terms of humour, it’s always a challenge to make a reboot as entertaining as the original, but Rusty promises from the beginning, “The new vacation will stand on its own.” This is true to some extent. The storyline is easy enough to follow without much need for background, and for audience appeal, I understand where this is a new Hollywood necessity. From a creative perspective, we are let down. Instead of wit, we are spoon fed crudeness.
Ed Helms and Christina Applegate are endearing as a couple and fairly reflective of the struggles of modern relationships. I take my biggest issue with the younger of the two boys, Kevin. His attitude, lack of manners, and the lack of discipline he receives are collectively troublesome. Keep putting these self-absorbed, discourteous children on the screen, what does this tell the kids in the cinema with their parents? That it’s OK because occasionally there’s a joke amidst the f-bombs and name-calling? I’m surprised with society’s campaign against bullying that this made the cut.
I know it’s meant to be comedic, but rude comedy is just lazy comedy sending a bad message.
That being said, there are some endearing moments, especially between Rusty and James (Gisondo). Even if it was an awkward, and fairly inaccurate, “birds and bees” talk, it’s a classic and generationally relevant scene. Debbie attempting to outdo her party-girl university days was kind of gross, but also contextually entertaining. Crudeness and a decent measure of disrespect ran throughout the film, but there is an element of togetherness that I find connects the new and old. Ultimately the journey is the obvious destination of the movie, and nowhere is that more apparent than in family misfortune films like Vacation.
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