Barton’s Movie Reviews – VACATION

I went in to Vacation treating it as a standalone comedy, mainly because I had never seen any of the National Lampoon Vacation movies. Comedy, like any genre, has evolved over the years so this entry in the franchise would surely be different to the one that kickstarted it all in 1983.

Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is a man who lives the simple life with his family; his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate), and children, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). Every year they take the same vacation to the same cabin and Rusty thinks his family enjoy it as much as him.

When he finds out that they don’t enjoy it, Rusty decides to take mix things up a bit, taking them on a road trip across country to visit Walley World, the theme park his father was obsessed with taking him to in the original movie.

Along the way, things don’t go entirely to plan and many misadventures occur.

What struck me most about Vacation was just how lazy it was as a comedy. Some people were howling with laughter while others giggled more discretely. Of course, there were moments where I laughed but those moments were all too rare. Funny moments were outweighed horribly by some painstakingly unfunny moments. 

You know, the moments that make you question why everyone else is laughing and leave you feeling embarrassed for the actors. Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who also directed this comedy, simply have to do a much better job with the screenplay of the Spider-Man movie heading our way in 2017.

Coming to the performances, Ed Helms is so much better than this. I loved him in the first Hangover movie but he has never really found his feet since then. Here he is reduced to cheap laughs and some of the most unsubtle comedy I’ve seen in a number of years.

Christina Applegate doesn’t fair much better in Vacation. A talented comedic actress feels utterly wasted and doesn’t really get anything to do except for moan at her husband. The kids are just as bad, Stebbins in particular as Kevin, who just does the same thing the entire movie in bullying his bigger brother, James. The trouble is that not of the Griswold is likeable in any way, and this is the family you are supposed to be rooting for.

There are some quite funny appearances by the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day however, their small participation cannot hide the fact that Vacation really isn’t that good a comedy.

Finding itself quite far behind the likes of Spy and Trainwreck in terms of quality, Vacation is one of those comedies that will be forgotten in no time at all. Watch them announce a sequel now I’ve said that.

Verdict: ★★

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