Movie Review: VACATION
Prior to writing this review, I didn’t even bother to check the critical consensus on Vacation. It’s a damn shame to see how scathing some of these reviews are, because I think it’s the second funniest comedy of the year so far. I get it, remakes are becoming commonplace in the film industry… but that doesn’t mean that just because they don’t please fans of the originals that they should be discarded.
Because what’s funny to one generation isn’t gonna be funny to others, this “update” of the original Vacation (1987) features Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold (aka Chevy Chase’s son from the original franchise, now a father of his own)crafting a different pallet of jokes akin to this era of comedy. And man is the humor dark, it’s oh so damn dark. Might be one of the reasons that critics are so put off by it, but as Rusty says in very meta-fashion, “the new vacation will stand on its own”.
Johnathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (SAM WEIR FROM FREAKS & GEEKS!), in their directorial debut after writing comedies such as Horrible Bosses, truly update the original into very funny R-rated territory. They truly flip the script, with one of the film’s funniest running gags coming from Steele Stebbins as Kevin (the younger brother) that bullies Skyler Gisondo as James (the eldest, nerdier son) so hard that he actually wants to kill him at certain points. It’s such a great nod to the dynamic that once existed between Rusty and Audrey. If you seen Horrible Bosses, you know how black some of the comedy will get with these guys… and it provides for some of the funniest gags in the movie.
To be honest, I haven’t really felt Ed Helms as a strong comedic presence until this film. He does a good job capturing the essence of the Vacation patriarch as a Dad-Knows-Best type who somehow manages to do everything wrong. Not to say Helms was born to play this role, but he’s so strong as a leading man given the right material… it’s hard not to emphasize how much he soars in this. Not outmatched by his comedic performance but by the burgeoning earnestness that he brings to the film as Rusty… not to mention all of this by opposite of Anchorman veteran Christina Applegate and supported by an also surprisingly funny Chris Hemsworth.
Yeah, it’s not a HOME RUN (after all, this is a directorial debut) but it’s definitely one of the funniest films in a while… which is actually very interesting, given this is the first meta-comedy-reboot made in the shadow of 21 Jump Street. While most critics argue that this film has nothing to offer, I happen to think that laughs go a long way…… especially when it comes to the ones that do a great job of making you forget about your daily problems.