In Theatres: 
Jul 29, 2015
Running Time: 
99 minutes

Since the 80’s, the Griswolds have been the prime example of how horribly wrong family vacations can go. They represent a situation every family has been in at one point or another. Most families probably even have the terrible pictures to prove it. Still, the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise has always delivered plenty of laughs from the Griswolds’ dismay and the more modern Vacation is no different.


Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) has grown into an adult with a family of his own, but the past few years of doing the same vacation has gotten state with his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and his two boys, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). In an effort to spice things up a bit, Rusty decides to take the family on a cross-country road trip to the same place he went with his family as a kid; Walley World.


It’s not the same trip, however, as Rusty tells his family. “This’ll be completely different,” he explains as if he’s talking to the audience. “The new vacation will stand on its own.” And Vacation does exactly that. It’s a road trip movie that is driven by the entertaining family dynamic of a new generation of Griswolds.


Rusty is no longer the awkward teenage boy he was in the first films. Now he’s an awkward adult who has taken over the role of Clark in that he just wants to give his family a great vacation, no matter the costs. His oldest son James is more of an introvert and prefers to spend his time playing his guitar or writing in one of the dozen diaries he has. As a result, he often gets made fun of by his younger and more vulgar brother, Kevin. It’s initially funny, but the constant barrage of insults from Kevin does get tiring as the film progresses. Lastly, there’s Debbie who is mostly just along for the ride and to add some tension between her and Rusty.


Where Vacation shines is in its supporting cast of quirky characters. At one point Rusty pays a visit to his sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) who has married a rich and successful anchorman played by Chris Hemsworth. He’s the perfect cocky (literally if you’ve seen the trailers) stereotypical cowboy kinda guy. There are also some hilarious scenes involving a river rafting guide named Chad (Charlie Day) and four state patrol officers played by Tim Heidecker, Nick Kroll, Kaitlin Olson, and Michael Peña.


Of course, the film also pays tribute to the original. Clark and Ellen, played by Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, make a heartwarming cameo appearance. From the classic Wagon Queen Family Truckster to the attractive young woman driving a Ferrari, there’s plenty of homages that fans will enjoy.


Vacation breathes new life into the National Lampoon franchise with plenty of laughs and fun and eccentric characters. Ed Helms might not be on the same level as Chevy Chase in the original, but he does a good job at driving in his own, unique direction.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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