Film review: Vacation (15)

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SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: ED HELMS, CHRISTINA APPLEGATE, CHRIS HEMSWORTH, LESLIE MANN, SKYLER GISONDO, STEELE STEBBINS, CHARLIE DAY, KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY, CATHERINE MISSAL, MICHAEL PENA, COLIN HANKS, BEVERLY D’ANGELO & CHEVY CHASE

RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 39 MINS

DIRECTOR: JOHN FRANCIS DALEY & JONATHAN M GOLDSTEIN

Vacation is one of the best comedies ever made – National Lampoon’s Vacation that is.

This new remake/reboot for this generation really isn’t.

It swaps the consistently clever comedic ingenuity of the original – for gross-out gags that severely misfire.

Fortunately it has a handful of moments – the Griswolds Albanian-made family car being the funniest thing in the movie – a few hints of nostalgia and erm, some nice scenery (Grand Canyon etc), that prevents it from being a complete disaster, even though it’s not far from it.

With his life in a rut, the son of Clark Griswold, budget-airline pilot Rusty (The Hangover’s Ed Helms), decides to (kinda) emulate his road trip to theme park Walley World (from the first movie) in order to spice up things with his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and re-connect with his sons, geeky James (Skyler Gisondo) and bullying Kevin (Steele Stebbins).

But things don’t go to plan and via several set pieces – Debbie’s old college frat house, the hot springs, a mad trucker and Charlie Day’s crazy rafting guide – combined with the usual car damage, text-book theft and crude sexual references, this shockingly raises only a few minor titters throughout.

Even the addition of a ‘chubby’ Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, who cameo as Clark and Ellen – the stars of four previous Vacation films (including European, Christmas and Vegas) – in a woeful five minutes, it leaves you wondering who came up with this terribly unfunny script.

Fortunately Chris Hemsworth’s heavily-endowed and wonderfully-named regional weatherman Stone Crandall (husband of Rusty’s sister Audrey, played by Leslie Mann) breaks things up with something approaching a ‘mildly’ humorous sub-plot, and Applegate – best known from her teen turn in Married with Children – seems to be always trying her best with what little she has to work with. On the downside, Helms continues to struggle with any comedy outside of The Hangover series – and the Griswold kids are just an annoying inclusion.

Sadly most of the film ends up being absolutely pointless, and leaves you hankering for your DVD (or is that VHS?) of the 1983 cult original – with the theme tune ‘Holiday Road’ ringing in your ears.

Now that is how comedies should be made.

Rating: 2/5 Gavin Miller