Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Movie Review- Vacation

Take your pick. They're both kinda crappy. The cars, not the films, duh!

Introduction

Family vacation films have always hit a soft spot with me. Now, when I say "films", I mean Hollywood production type movies. Not the amateurish slides or film reels that the neighbors subject you to for what seems like hours and hours of torturous fun. "Don't worry. There's only three hundred and fifty slides to go! Honey, bring us some more Tom Collins Mix! Joe here looks like he needs another." I remember as a kid watching National Lampoon's Vacation and its disappointing European sequel. The original is still a classic but the other one, only aroused that preteen sense of awe from seeing a pair of perfectly shaped German breasts in a PG-13 film (I miss those days). My favorite family vacation film of all time though, is The Great Outdoors. How can you go wrong with a Summer camping flick that has John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, and a bald headed grizzly bear in it? Come to think of it, all three of those films had the hands of iconic 80's director John Hughes in them. He knew how to add just the right touch into teen angst and family comedies. Even Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles, had elements of a vacation film to it. After Hughes pretty much owned the genre in the 80's, he took a step back and left it to other filmmakers to carry on the tradition. Some have tried (RV), failed (Are We There Yet?), and come fairly close (Little Miss Sunshine), to Hughes' winning formula for family road comedies. Now what can be said about a continuation of a Hughes creation?

Vacation

With the politically correct, pussified, and pandering, state of Hollywood (especially with comedies) these days, it's almost shocking to see a film like Vacation and not think, "How in the hell did they approve this?" What first sets this film apart from other recent comedies, is that it has the balls to compete with the original and not inhibit itself with family friendly bullshit. It stays honest to its characters, its story, and its comedy. Things go over the top to be sure, but at least it doesn't feel fake when doing so (mostly). I originally feared that all of the funny scenes were put into the trailer, leaving an empty film full of dissatisfaction. I was pleasantly reassured though, in as early as the intro sequence. Wisely, Vacation starts with an amusing photo montage that's covered by the famous, "Holiday Road", song of the previous films. From then on, this movie stays consistently funny if not hilarious. There's a good balance between its parallels to the original and with standing on its own feet. There are so many hysterical moments with its characters and situations, that there's no time for a bathroom break. Even awkward scenes turn out to be a clever set up to even more laughs.
Ed Helms (The Hangover) in the lead as Rusty Griswold (sixth actor to do so), channels Chevy Chase's Clark from the past films. Christina Applegate (The Sweetest Thing) as the Mrs., actually surpasses the standard 'wifey' role and gets a close to equal amount of humorous moments herself. She's still hot, by the way. Their sons played by, Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2) and Steele Stebbins (A Haunted House 2), have a unique brother dynamic where their roles are reversed. The bullying from the younger brother is funny but, it eventually goes a tad too far before finally being resolved. When the Griswold's visit with Leslie Mann's (This is 40) and Chris Hemsworth's (Thor) characters, the audience is in for a treat. Helm's sexual insecurities are only matched by Hemsworth's great sense of humor. Cameos from a bunch of television (and film) actors are spread throughout. Charlie Day's (Horrible Bosses 1 & 2) scene is a highlight. Surprisingly, the only real letdown with the guest appearances, were from Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. Their reprisals from the other Vacation films should have been funnier. Instead, they seem oddly out of place and unimportant.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Vacation

The Good- The multitude of rental car hijinks including, plastic bag choking, Vin Diesel imitating gone awry, a nonsensical remote (don't push the swastika button), and an angry Korean GPS. Visiting the old college. Chris Hemsworth should be the next Hanes underwear spokesman. He's the total package.
The Bad- It felt like there were more than a few scenes either left out or shortened for whatever reason. Even though there's an awesome fight scene, the last twenty minutes were rushed.
The Ugly- Seriously critics? A 23% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (at this moment)? Where has your sense of humor wandered off to? Did it get lost up your pompous asses along with your heads? Not every film has to be an indecipherable mystery draped in indie originality to get a decent rating.

Final Thoughts on Vacation

Vacation is to me at least, the funniest film of the year. Ted 2 was hilarious as well but, this movie has more going for it in the overall department. I laughed through the whole damn thing. A must see in theaters. It's too bad that Cousin Eddie wasn't in this. I hear that that Randy Quaid guy has turned into a bit of a loon these days.
Rating- 8 out of 10
Running Time- 99 Minutes
Comedy/Adventure

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Joe Speigle  

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