Vacation might turn some off and the certainly the humor is off-color but for myself, it managed to surpass my exceptionally low expectations where I did manage to laugh more than a few times and tolerated characters who might annoy others. That said, this isn’t a good movie per se but a passable one that I probably would put on the same level as European Vacation and Vegas Vacation.
Genre(s): Comedy, Adventure
Warner Bros. | R – 99 min. – $44.95 | November 3, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
And the trend of remakes continues tackling what might be a sacred cow (or steer) of a franchise though I’d argue that line was already crossed with Christmas Vacation 2 and to some extent Vegas Vacation which was vastly watered down courtesy of its PG rating. As such, and speaking as someone who didn’t even think European Vacation was awful (so take that for what you will), I didn’t think this latest incarnation of Vacation was that bad. That being said, this isn’t a classic-in-waiting but it was an OK time-waster and I did manage to laugh a few times.
The story this go around basically matches the original: Rusty Griswold (ED HELMS) is all grown up, a pilot for a bargain airline and has a family of his own with a gorgeous wife, Debbie (CHRISTINA APPLEGATE) and two sons, James (SKYLER GISONDO) and Kevin (STEELE STEBBINS), and is just as a family man as his father.
Every summer the Griswolds would visit a cabin much to the chagrin of his wife so he decides to change things up and revisit his own childhood trip, taking a car (Tartan Prancer) — from Albania — to California and Walley World. Along their journey they cross paths with a variety of characters from a seemingly vengeful trucker (NORMAN REEDUS of “The Walking Dead” fame) their young son accused of being a rapist (over a CB equipped in their car), a heartbroken river guide (CHARLIE DAY), Rusty’s sister, Audrey (LESLIE MANN) and her hunk of a husband, Stone Crandall (CHRIS HEMSWORTH), who has attributes Debbie admires. They also make a pit stop at Debbie’s old college and sorority in order to get the obligatory hot chicks and cleavage.
Vacation is no doubt not a great film. The humor tends to be low-brow and even borderline offensive but as I recall, albeit it’s been a few years since I last saw the original in full, it too had its offensive scenes. I think in spirit this reboot, or whatever you want to call it, is akin to the series just updated to today’s style of humor, and in this case it is over stylized and way over-the-top, which will turn off many people. For myself, I actually laughed more than a few times and even when the humor was off, I never felt bored; it’s a time waster of a film but I can’t say I hated it.
The characters were mostly well cast even Ed Helms, whom I’ve never been a big fan of and could only take in small doses even on “The Office” but his Rusty is perfectly fine though inconsistent as he’s a bigger bumbler, and idiot, compared with what we’ve seen before but that’s more on the writing than with Helms’ performance. The rest were fine, Christina Applegate had some good scenes and is in top form in so many ways and the kids were at least tolerable though the younger one can get on ones nerves.
Vacation (2015) was helmed by the duo of Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley who had worked on a variety of projects, at some level, like Horrible Bosses 2 (story writers), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and have the Spider-Man reboot in the works (as writers). I know Daley from the series “Bones” but his, and Goldstein’s, writing credits aren’t terribly impressive though I enjoyed portions of Wonderstone and some of the jokes here, albeit not always landing, attempts to keep the same spirit of the previous movies, especially with the forced heart-felt “message” (such as it is) at the core, however I might be alone in that thinking.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside contains the DVD Copy and redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Return to Walley World (9:54; HD) – This is a basic overview of the Vacation reboot with on-set interviews with the cast (Helms, Applegate, Chase, D’Angelo, etc.) and crew (Goldstein, Daley) set against scenes from the movie and behind-the-scenes footage.
The Griswold Odyssey (18:23; HD) breaks down the trip from Illinois to California and a look at the Tartan Prancer.
Gag Reel (1:32; HD) contains the usual flubbed lines and on-set antics.
Deleted Scenes (12:32; HD) has a few scenes removed for one reason or another, probable due to pacing, though there was one funny line by Keegan-Michael Key about he and his family loving Grown Ups 2.
Georgia (2:02; HD) is about filming in Georgia for budgetary reasons.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Warner Home Video releases Vacation presented in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. As a comedy the movie shows off brilliantly bright colors throughout and has sharp detail from both close-up and distant shots. It’s a clean transfer with no major instances of aliasing, artifacts and pixilation.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The movie comes with a standard but effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which provides for clear dialogue levels and a moderate amount of depth though this is strictly comedy so there’s not much to judge outside of the few action-esque scenes though the generic score does make some usage of the rear channels.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Vacation might turn some off and the certainly the humor is off-color but for myself, it managed to surpass my exceptionally low expectations where I did manage to laugh more than a few times and tolerated characters who might annoy others. That said, this isn’t a good movie per se but a passable one that I probably would put on the same level as European Vacation and Vegas Vacation. Take that for what you will.
As for the Blu-ray, it’s a rather basic release for Warner Home Video with thin bonus material but good video/audio transfers.
Brian Oliver a.k.a. The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.