Vacation movie poster
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Vacation
Vacation movie poster

Vacation Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

The Griswolds are back, but not as you remember them. With Clark and Ellen Griswold retired, it’s up to their son Rusty (Ed Helms) to force his family on a cross-country road trip in the sequel/remake Vacation, a dumb-but-funny comedy that lives up to the original without rehashing the same old scenarios.

Helms embraces the Chevy Chase role with ease, but thankfully does not try to replicate Chase’s exact brand of humor. The same can be said for the movie as a whole, which bears a lot of similarities to the original (they are, after all, on their way back to Walley World) but neither tries to recreate it nor its jokes. At least not that often. The result is a movie that directly acknowledges what it is--a remake--but wants to cater to modern audiences with modern humor.

Helms, along with costars Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins, are all terrific in their respective roles. Despite being given the play-it-straight role, Applegate gets more than a few chances to deliver some solid jokes, though it’s Gisondo and Stebbins who are the stand-outs. The two on-screen brothers spar throughout the movie, and their exchanges are among its highlights. Though his jokes are mainly one-note, Stebbins is hilarious as the younger sibling.

At just under 100 minutes in length, Vacation is fast-paced and fast-lipped, its goal to keep the humor coming whether every joke lands or not. The movie is by no means the funniest and it certainly isn’t the smartest you’ll see this year (Trainwreck already has it beat in both categories, and the year is still young), but it will constantly have you laughing--and any comedy that does that is a success. There are a few scenes or jokes that don’t register, but it doesn’t matter; by the time you realize it, the movie has probably moved on to something new.

One disappointing aspect of Vacation is that many of the biggest comedic reveals are shown in the previews. The movie definitely does not show all the funny parts in the trailers, but it would have been more satisfying had marketing held back one or two of the big punchlines. And while it generally takes advantage of its various supporting cast members and cameo appearances (Chris Hemsworth most notably), the single sequence with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo is ironically one of the movie’s weaker moments.

Vacation isn’t as smart or as funny as some of the top-grade comedies that have been released in recent years, but it’s still a legitimate comedy that will appeal to both fans of the original National Lampoon movies and new audiences seeking a good laugh.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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