Tuesday, July 28, 2015

No funny rest stops in this 'Vacation'

A dud of an attempt to revive a franchise.

If you're looking for a break from stupid comedy, Vacation isn't likely to fill the bill. This lame attempt to revive a dormant franchise -- the last of four Vacation movies hit screens in 1997 -- vainly tries to wring new laughs from an old premise, the one that made the 1983 original a hit.

Ed Helms (of the Bachelor Party movies) plays Rusty Griswold, the grown son of Clark Griswold, the character Chevy Chase portrayed in the original.

A disrespected pilot for an economy airline, Rusty has the same idea that his father had more than 20 years ago. He wants to bring his family closer together by taking them on a car trip from Chicago to California, home of Walley World, the theme park from the first movie.

Christina Applegate portrays wife Debbie Griswold, and Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins play the Griswold kids.

The movie -- which features late-picture cameos from Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, the original Griswold mom -- stuffs its trunk with gags that tend to be more painful than funny, not to mention a few that are disgustingly gross.

How gross? At one point, the Griswolds find themselves covered with excrement, having mistaken a pool full of sewage for an invigorating hot springs.

The trip begins when Helms' dim-witted Rusty rents an Albanian car for the trip. Surprise! Nothing about the Albanian "Prancer" -- which looks the same when viewed from either the back or the front -- works properly.

A running gag involving a Griswold confrontation with the driver of a semi is predictable and dumb. And the youngest Griswold -- the kid played by Stebbins -- is one of the more obnoxious movie kids in some time, a foul-mouthed brat.

Throw in jokes about pedophilia, shabby motels, and the Griswolds' fading sex life and the picture should become clear.

Perhaps to add more connection with the original, Rusty stops to visit his now grown sister (Leslie Mann) who's married to a hunky weatherman (Chris Hemsworth) with a very large ...

Oh, the hell with it.

Vacation qualifies as more R-rated rot for a generation of moviegoers that probably never heard of National Lampoon, the humor magazine that spawned Animal House and the original Vacation .

Does any of this prove anything? Only that one trip to Walley World is enough for any family.

For the record: The original was directed by the late Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day) from a script by the late John Hughes (Ferris Bueller's Day Off). This one has two directors: John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, neither of whom previously has directed a feature-length movie. Goldstein and Daley also are credited with having written the script.

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