Just Your Typical Summer ‘Vacation’ (Movie Review)

VacationBelieve it or not, July 29th’s Vacation is actually the fifth theatrical and the seventh total installment of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series.  However, that stat does little to phase or impress me.  While I loved some of the earlier National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, the trailers for 2015’s Vacation absolutely rocked.  So much so that I felt if a trailer can elicit that much laughter from me, I just have to see the finished product and ensure there are still some good, unexpected laughs to be had with the feature.  And that ladies and gentlemen is why we’re here today to discuss in-depth the merits and hopeful laughs of Vacation.  And I know this is digression, but God I could really use one (referring to the very real dictionary definition of the word vacation).  Haha.


Vacation was written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.  They both pop their cherries here with this being their first directorial debuts.  Not too shabby for a major motion comedy picture like this, eh?  And in case you have been living under a rock the past several months and haven’t caught one of the film’s many ball-busting, hysterical theatrical trailers, then let me be the first to introduce you to Vacation‘s main cast.  They include the likes of Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth.  Of course there are some secondary players worth mentioning like a man that goes by the name of Chevy Frickin Chase!  Even one of my faves, Charlie Day, makes an appearance.  This flick is starting off with a bang before even sitting down.  I was just hoping this firecracker wasn’t going to be a dud.


You see what I’m getting at here is that Vacation‘s theatrical trailers are so damn funny that I’m very afraid that what we have seen is all that we’re going to get.  My worst fear is wondering what is there left to be shown?  Is there comedic redemption beyond what is filling the seats via the feature’s theatrical trailers.  That was my main hurdle to jump over during last week’s press screening.  Was I, or in this case the film, successful in doing so?  Now you’re talking!  That’s the pudding we are all here to discuss at length today.  Ladies and gentlemen, let’s go re-live the Griswold family highlights in Vacation.


So before I give you my two cents about what I saw last week, I want to give you the quick lowdown of what Vacation is really all about.  Then I’ll get to the good stuff.  I promise!.  Long story short, the setup and premise of Vacation, as you probably can guess already, is relatively simple.  It’s all a vehicle to follow Clark’s (Chase) son, Rusty (Helms), who now has his own family misadventures on the road.  All Rusty wants is some family-time, some much needed bonding.  So what does he decide to do?  He rents this on-in-a-kind car and takes his wife, Debbie (Applegate), and their two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins), across country to America’s favorite family fun park.  I’m talking Walley World, folks!  However, what happens on the road is the real adventure.  Ready to talk about it?  I sure the hell am!

Vacation 5

Luckily there are a lot of laughs to be had in Vacation, not just the ones contained and played to death already in the trailer.  That was a relief for me as I found myself mostly cracking up over the relationship between the two brothers in the story and how they constantly bicker and fight, not to mention their mouths, but I digress.  However, the real novelty of Vacation is its self awareness.  It knows it’s a sequel to some pretty legendary predecessors and it makes no excuses for itself.  In fact, they go as far as saying this within the film that this is the new “vacation” and it’s going to be better than the old one.  I know what you’re thinking, folks.  Trust me.  Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.  They are!


In some respects Vacation feels like a cash cow to bring in everyone looking for a little continuity in their lives, reminiscing and re-uniting with the long lost cast of 1983, etc.  On the other hand, Vacation feels exactly like the cream of crop we are used to in modern days with other such raunchy family comedies like We’re The Millers or even Horrible Bosses.  And quite honestly, that’s kind of the fun, blended mix we have going on here.  If you’re picking up what I’m dropping with these bold comedic film comparisons, then you know exactly what kind of movie you’re walking into if you decide to embark on this Griswold family adventure.  And why wouldn’t you?  Everyone deserves a god laugh now and then.  If you walk out of this without a single chuckle, then I don’t know what to say.  You need help!


Other than that, I’m not really sure what to tell you.  I mean you’re going to see this one anyway.  The trailer already sold you on that.  My enjoyment of Vacation stems from the fact that I like these kinds of simple, genre beaten, but raunchy family comedies.  All the characters were nicely fleshed out with their own quirks, with some more funnier than others, but in the end all we’re left with nothing new other than a warm family bonding arc.  That’s where I can see the mass sea of critics saying this one fell rather flat or as I say very “typical.”  There is nothing new to be seen here.  I’ll give you that.  However, if the premise of the film’s trailers are what sold you on it in the first place, and let’s be honest they did, then you owe it to yourself to see this journey through to the end.  There really are some pretty insane moments that happen to the family while on the road and there’s even a stalker, whose identity I won’t reveal, that’s actually kind of worth the surprise.  Oh what the hell else are you doing this weekend?  You’re not seriously entertaining that Rogue Nation nonsense are you?  I’m just kidding.  What about a double header with Cruise and the Griswolds?  Now that sounds awesome!  Until next time…Enjoy!

Vacation Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

Comments are currently closed.