Like many folks, I can recite many lines from the cheeseball Chevy Chase 80s classic National Lampoon’s Vacation. Like many folks, I don’t remember demanding that Hollywood remake a movie that was perfectly fine the first time around. But this is Hollywood. What’s old is new(ish) again!
Teenager Rusty Griswold from the first film is now all grown up and in the form of Ed Helms. Russ has his own family now, and they are all stuck in the rut of same ol’ same ol’, even down to their yearly vacation. Non-risk-taking Russ decides to shake things up: they’re going on a road trip to… wait for it… Wallyworld! (Dammit, why not Paris?)
This is a road trip movie, and road trip movies are not about the destination; they are about the disasters and humiliations that ensue on the journey. Anyone who has gone on a family vacation before will recognize the sibling abuse, the bored spouses, the weird relatives, and the mysterious rental car (“the Honda of Albania”?). There is vomiting, there is poo, and there is at least one very large penis. OK, more than one.
I laughed. In fact, I laughed through the whole movie.
The only vague misfire part of the film was when Russ and company visit his sister Audrey (Leslie Mann), and her hottie weatherman husband (Chris Hemsworth). Though Hemsworth’s… assets provide one of the funnier visual gags, Mann’s skills seemed strangely wasted, making this side trip fall kind of flat. Move on folks, get in your car and go!
But there are more hits than misses. The little brother is a hoot, with his relentless torture of his older sibling. There is a sinister truckdriver, who, when he finally emerges from his cab, may cause some squees from the audience. There is even a running gag with a malfunctioning GPS system that made me laugh. every. time!
This isn’t highbrow entertainment, and I’m sure Vacation will have its naysayers, but this is the perfect type of popcorn entertainment: Gross. Funny. And kind of sweet.