Monday, December 21, 2015

Vacation - reviewed.

Vacation is one of the movies of 2015 that I was looking forward to seeing.  I thought it'd be nice to see a continuation of the National Lampoon 'Vacation' series.  Granted, I've only recently seen the European Vacation --- which was a fairly awful movie -- but the original Vacation and Christmas Vacation were both very good.  

I've seen Las Vegas Vacation as well.  From what I recall, it was only okay.

Christmas Vacation was probably my favorite of the bunch.  It's one of those movies that's on my yearly 'must watch in December' list.

So this new version, whether it's was an attempted reboot or a sequel, would be good.  Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, this was more of a remake than a sequel -- and not a very good one at that.  Sure, there were some differences, as Ed Helms' character, Rusty Griswold, points out in one scene: "The original vacation had a boy and a girl. This one has two boys."

That bit made me chuckle.  Most of the movie, however, left me sitting in my chair thinking, 'I should probably go exercise,' or 'I can't wait until this movie is over so I can go fill up my car with gas and get that off my to-do list.'

When such thoughts are entering your head, that's generally a sign that the movie is not doing its' job in entertaining you.

The Vacation preview was okay, showing clips of the Griswold family unknowingly soaking up some sewage in what they think is a hot springs.  Or the scene where Chris Hemsworth shows up in Rusty's room, sporting a pair of boxer-briefs that awkwardly showcases his man parts.

I did chuckle when, after Hemsworth leaves, Rusty says, in disbelief: 'He totally came in here just to show off his six-pack!'

The scene looked like it was funny in the movie trailer, but if Hemsworth's character as Rusty's brother-in-law is supposed to somehow mirror Randy Quaid's character in the original movies, then it fails miserably.

In other scenes, a robber steals the belongings in the Griswolds' Albanian rental car (which has a swastika symbol on the key fob), the Griswolds' rafting guide tries to take them over a waterfall after he is dumped by his fiancĂ©, and Rusty accidentally runs into (and kills) a cow while he's on an ATV.

This revamped version of Vacation is half throwback, paying too much homage to scenes in the original Vacation, and the other half predictable and boring.  Pretty much every attempt at humor in this movie has been used in other movies before.

This definitely leaves a feeling of 'been there, done that' with Vacation, version 2.  There's no real shock value in the children swearing or the visible breasts or the montage of awkward family photos (that includes plumber's butt) in the opening montage.  Been there, done that in a plethora of other not-so-entertaining movies.

If Leslie Mann (aunt Audrey) and Hemsworth (Stone Crandall, up-and-coming weatherman) weren't making out in front of Rusty's family, then Steele Stebbins (Rusty's youngest son) was cussing up a storm or Styler Gisondo (Rusty's oldest son) was acting stereotypically homosexual -- even though he's not.  The term they used in the movie was 'gender fluid.'

Stebbins' character, Kevin, tells Gisondo's character, James, that he wishes he had AIDS (ouch!) and writes "I have a vagina" on his guitar (that party was kind of funny).  Eventually James stands up for himself, but he does so in a manner that's so awkward that you never really feel like the character got the justice he deserved.

Stebbins' character was somewhat humorous, simply because it's not usual that the younger child of the family is the bully.  That was an original twist at least.

Glissando does a good job with his character in dealing with the bullying from his younger sibling.  

He plays a believably awkward teenager with low self-esteem.

I think one of my major problems with the movie is that you're not really rooting for anyone.  There's nobody who is really a good person -- someone to actually care about.

In the original vacation, no matter how much he messes up or much trouble he encounters, Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold was a family man who was simply trying to bring his family together.

Rusty is trying to do the same thing as his father in this version, but there's no feeling of family love between the characters, even after they make up and put their differences aside.  

I don't know if it was a sloppy script or if the chemistry just wasn't there between the actors the way it was in the original.

Helms does a really good job playing a socially unaware goofball, but Rusty just doesn't compare to Clark Griswold and there's only so much he can do with jokes that just aren't that funny.

Chase does appear in the movie for a brief period of time, along with Beverly D'Angelo, but they aren't able to save this movie from being bad.

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