Blu-ray Review: Vacation



I really don’t judge a movie based on its first five minutes. A great intro makes a huge difference, but not every movie starts off amazing. Much can be forgiven after a poor first five minutes.

However, I am fine with judging a movie after 10 minutes, because that’s how long it took for me to throw up my hands with the witless, tone-deaf, brutally stupid Vacation. After the aforementioned unfunny opening scene, our hero Rusty Griswold (the normally affable Ed Helms) proceeds to explain to his family that instead of going to their lousy cabin in Cheboygan, Mich. (and I don’t blame them there), they will take the same trip he took as a boy with his family. This turns into a stunningly stupid Meta conversation, with wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) wondering, “so we’re just going to redo the original vacation? Won’t that be a letdown?” Rusty responds that “this one will stand on its own,” and points out that the first film was a boy and a girl in the family, and in this movie it’s two boys. I’m not kidding – this actually happened.

The sad thing is that this movie could have just gone ahead and not done that. Helms is playing Rusty, the son from the original films. They could have easily just presented this as a sequel of sorts, rather than the dreaded and omnipresent reboot. But they had to get cute, and it just undermines everything else they try to do.

So the family trudges toward Walley World, running into all kinds of shenanigans and pratfalls along the way. Not a single funny thing happens. Some funny actors show up, such as Charlie Day, Ron Livingston, Keegan-Michael Key, and Regina Hall. They are unable to overcome the shoddy material they’re given to work with. Even Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth, as Rusty’s sister Audrey and her husband Stone, can’t give this movie a pulse. Finally, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo do reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, but they appear to be acting in a completely different universe than the rest of the cast – and none of it is good.

Vacation is a sad waste of some talented individuals, and a failed attempt at resurrecting a franchise that was in the ground even before Christmas Vacation 2: Uncle Eddie’s Island Vacation.

Five special features are presented on the Blu-ray. “Return to Walley World” is a standard 10-minute making-of featurette, just fluffy stuff. “The Griswold Odyssey” is over 18 minutes long and is a more in-depth version of the previous feature. The “Gag Reel” is only 92 seconds long and shows that the outtakes were no funnier than the movie, and the same holds true for the 12-plus minutes of deleted scenes. Finally, there’s “Georgia,” which is a quick two-minute featurette on Georgia, where the film was shot. Nothing here is particularly noteworthy, and is just the usual cookie-cutter features. This package includes a DVD and digital HD copy as well.

New Line Cinema presents Vacation. Written and directed by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Starring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, Beverly D’Angelo, and Chevy Chase. Run Time: 99 minutes. Rated R. Released: November 3, 2015.

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