It’s been 32 years since the original National Lampoon’s Vacation was released, and as everyone knows, any and every film ever released is liable for a remake or reboot. While comedy franchises are usually the last ones to get the treatment, we now have the “reboot”—if a sequel is decided upon—for the aforementioned movie in what is simply called, Vacation. In what is yet another road trip from hell, Vacation relies mostly on gross-out humor, callbacks to the original, and absurd moments that over stay their welcome. Your level of enjoyment is only based on how committed you are on actually getting to the destination as opposed to simply enjoying the ride.
In the years since the original films starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo (who make cameos) Rusty (now replaced with Ed Helms) has gotten married, had two kids, and is perfectly fine living a repetitious life as a pilot for a cheap airline. Realizing he has become disconnected from both his kids and his wife, he decides to plan a trip for Walley World, the fateful destination of the original road trip.
As you can predict, many antics ensue and what first seems like a bonding experience turns into a spree of horrible mishaps and unfortunate events, many of which were ruined by trailers. Some of these produce a few laughs, while a good majority of them go on too long, making it feel like the writers don’t have much planned for the actual destination. Helms offers up his usual kind-hearted goofiness, much like his character on The Office. He is humorous enough, delivering a few cringe-worthy lines as an awkward, yet still determined father, who just wants to make a good impression on his sons. Christina Applegate, who plays his wife, is reluctant to go on the trip, but she still has a few good moments, as well as a nice development throughout the film.
Is it bad that the younger son, who has had hardly any other acting roles, is perhaps the funniest part of the film? The foul-mouthed bully, Kevin (played by Steele Stebbins,) produces the largest percentage of laughs in the entire movie with his brutal treatment of his older brother, James (Skyler Gisondo.) While Gisondo is awkwardly trying to make huge significance out of the trip, insisting on it being like Kerouacs travels, Stebbins is beating him up, choking him with plastic bags, and verbally abusing him. It is hilarious, over-the-top, and sadly one of the funniest parts of an otherwise routine comedy.
Aside from the family, the film is peppered with a number of cameos that have extremely varied success. Ranging from the memorable with Chris Hemsworth, to the bland and unnecessary with Charlie Day and Norman Reedus, these cameos have the potential to make you laugh, but they also have the potential of being so much more.
I think the cameos sum up the film pretty well. Sure, some of them make you laugh like the movie itself, but others make you wonder why they are even a part of this journey that feels a little longer than it should be. Despite an amicable cast, with highlights in Stebbins and Helms, Vacation hits the road but not much else, and like many road trips, you’ll probably be asking “are we there yet?” before too long, even if there are a few laughs along the way.