HOLLYWOOD—Back in the 80s there was a flick that delivered laughs: “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” The first flick starred Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo and Christie Brinkley, and spun several sequels. Fast-forward to 2015, and we have “Vacation” which some could equate to a reboot/remake of sorts. While Chase and D’Angelo aren’t stars of the new movie, they do make a cameo appearance for their now grown son Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms).
Helms has proven that he has comedic capabilities being the standout in the “The Hangover” franchise. Hoping to one-up his friends portrayed by the very funny Keegan-Michael Key and Regina Hall, Rusty decides to take his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), his oldest son James (Skyler Gisondo) and his youngest son, Kevin (Steele Stebbins) on a family vacation that takes them cross-country.
What works well for “Vacation” is the family dynamics thanks to Helms, Applegate, Gisondo and Stebbins. The bickering between the family is all too realistic for anyone who has been stuck in a vehicle with loved ones longer than an hour. Kids will be kids and adults will be adults. The foul language that comes out of Kevin’s mouth is priceless in my opinion. The adults will die of laughter in the theater.
I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises for viewers, but some of the obvious ones include their stop at a hidden spring which actually turns out to be a sewage dump. It’s beyond gross, disgusting and icky, but as a moviegoer you can’t help but laugh at the family’s misery. Another scene that is no major spoiler for the audience is the encounter with Rusty’s sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her sexually out there hubby Stone (Chris Hemsworth).
Hemsworth is proving that he has comedic chops, even though the majority of America only sees him as a superhero. That scene where he shows off his impressive package to Rusty and Debbie is shockingly funny to say the least.
Writing and directing duo Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley do a great job of balancing character archetypes, narrative and the gags in a movie that delivers the laughs without being too over the top. Actors Charlie Day and Norman Reedus have neat cameos in the movie as well.
“Vacation” is indeed an R-rated comedy; it’s not intended for children under the age of 17. For those avid fans who came to enjoy Chevy Chase and his over-the-top antics from the 80s, this new installment in the franchise allows new audiences to learn that comedy at its root is always about family.