Review: Vacation (2015)

Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein | 99 minutes | adventure, comedy | Actors: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Charlie Day, Catherine Missal, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key, Regina Hall, Emyri Crutchfield , Alkoya Brunson, Nick Kroll, Tim Heidecker, Kaitlin Olson, Michael Peña

National Lampoon magazine was so popular in the United States in the 1970s that associating the name with a movie already guaranteed a profit. ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ (1978) was followed by the less successful ‘Class Reunion’, but ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ more than made up for that loss. The comedy about the Griswold family, who cross the country on their way to a legendary (but otherwise non-existent) amusement park, Walley World, was so well received that several sequels and spin-offs followed (of which only the direct sequel, ‘ European Vacation ‘received a cinema release in the Netherlands). In the ‘Vacation’ films we watch the adventures of the average American family (father, mother, son and daughter), in which nothing goes as planned and subtlety is hard to find. Chevy Chase and Beverly d’Angelo starred Clark and Ellen Griswold in the original 1980s versions and return in those roles for the reboot of Vacation.

Like his father Clark, Rusty Griswold wants to strengthen the family bond by taking his family on a road trip. That is desperately needed, because the two sons, opposites James and Kevin (Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins), cannot see or air each other. James is a somewhat sensitive teenager who keeps piles of diaries and plays the guitar, bullshit Kevin is only annoying and gets his family (and the viewer) the blood from under the nails. Rusty’s wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) secretly dreams of a romantic trip to Paris, yet she is open to her husband’s plan to visit Walley World amusement park. In a ridiculous-looking rented minivan (the non-existent Albanian brand Tartan Prancer), the family sets off for Walley World.

Whether you know the original film (s) or not, ‘Vacation’ from 2015 is easy to follow without prior knowledge. The new generation of Griswolds clearly have the genes of the previous generation in them, and one unexpected event is not over or the next is just around the corner. Much of the humor is vulgar and sometimes downright nasty, but of the kind that sometimes makes you laugh involuntarily, provided you are in the right – prone to silly jokes – mood. Memorable roles come to Chris Hemsworth as Stone’s brother-in-law and Charlie Day as a depressive guide on a white water canoe trip. ‘Vacation’ is definitely not a top film, but for people who can appreciate a film in which all forms of bodily fluids make an appearance from time to time, this comedy is well worth a try.

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