The old "Vacation" series is a group of movies I admire a lot. I love Chevy Chase, and I think that sums up some of the very best work of his career. I really enjoyed Beverly D'Angelo as well, and I liked all the actors who came along for the vacations of the Griswolds along the way. My favorite movie in the bunch was "Christmas Vacation." Its been a family favorite my entire life. Before we owned it, we would rent it every holiday season, and it never got old. Still to this day, it never gets old and I still watch it every holiday season, even though I know it like the back of my hand.
The 2015 "Vacation" doesn't masquerade itself as a remake, but it basically is a remake. Ed Helms plays Rusty Griswold, and he's all grown up. He takes his family on their very first road trip. There are several call backs to the old "Vacation" movie. There are several cameos by Colin Hanks, Ron Livingston, Charlie Day, Eric Kroll, Michael Pena and even Norman Fucking Reedus. But just like the 1983 gem, this is a roadie movie, and it follows the exact same template as the 1983 movie. This is a remake even though it focuses on an older Griswold family.
There are some funny parts. There is a scene where Rusty visits his sister Audrey who is played by Leslie Mann and she has a husband played by Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth is hilarious in his few scenes. I never caught his stint on SNL, so I was totally unprepared. But Hemsworth has some comedic talent and I have to say that I am excited to see what he does in the new "Ghostbusters" movie. There were a couple of other scenes that made me smile. There were even a few parts that made me feel quite nostalgic. That happens sometimes when a movie is being a remade, there is a callback to that point in your life when you first saw the original, and Hollywood has been feeding on that nostalgia for quite some time now.
The rest of the movie is quite horrid. Not bad, not mediocre, just horrid. Taken as a whole, this is a painfully dull and unfunny adventure that relies too much on the older movies instead on its own will. The script is all over the place in the worst possible way. There is no material that really sticks. The older brother being picked on by the younger potty-mouthed brother? Not funny. The Griswolds bathing in excrement? Not funny. Christina Applegate playing drinking games and fumbling badly? Not funny. There is not a single original idea in the whole movie. Nor is there a moment of sheer hilarity. This remake is just a hour and a half plunge into a dysfunctional family trying to be funny.
What made the old "Vacation" movies so funny was that they were completely fearless. They made great jokes and they didn't care what the material represented. This new movie doesn't try to be fearless, it tries to be dull and passes with flying colors. It tries to be gross, which it passes in flying colors. Most of all, it tries to be stupid and passes with flying colors. This is not old school "Vacation" revived, this is a penniless imitator. This is the karaoke version of a once great franchise. This is another reminder of why great movies should be left alone and not brought back to life for some easy cash. Let the glorious stay bathed in glory. Because this effort was nothing but below average.
FINAL GRADE: D