Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Movie Review #289: "Vacation" (2015)

Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: John Francis Daley & Jonathan M. Goldstein
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
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Now all grown up and wanting to give his family a good vacation, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) gets the idea to take his whole family on a road trip to Wally World, just like his father did with him and his sister when they were kids. 

In 1983, a film was released staring Chevy Chase called "Vacation." It has since become a comedy classic and a summer favorite of ours. It has spawned numerous sequels, one of which is one of our holiday favorites, "Christmas Vacation." Now, 30 years after the original came out, Hollywood has gotten the bright idea to make another sequel/reboot (in a long line of sequel/reboots this month) to add to the series, again, titled "Vacation." Whoa, the imagination. This time around, Rusty Griswold, played by Ed Helms, now an adult, wants to share his fond memories of a road trip he had with his family while growing up. He wants to take his own kids to Wally World like his parents did when he was younger. Though its premise is similar, this movie couldn't be any different in terms of content. The original dealt with the extremes of what could feasibly happen on a family cross-country road trip, things like getting lost, bad car trouble, annoying family members, etc. Sure, it was overly exaggerated, but the comedy felt so natural and hilarious on its own that, apart from a few rants here and there, it didn't need simply obscenity to gets its point across. So many times now, movies resort to the lowest common denominator when it comes to humor; we have talked about this before on the blog when discussing movies like "Hot Tub Time Machine 2." In wanting so badly to "sink a punchline" and outdo itself to make it "stand on its own," as this film so eloquently puts it, the new "Vacation" sacrifices good, quality, fun banter and jokes in lieu of forced, juvenile comedy that is vulgar for vulgarity's sake. As always, we have to, again, disclaim that we are not prudish people, but dropping an AIDS joke 7 minutes into a movie is about all we need to know to know this movie is a sinking ship. Other jokes in this film include rape jokes, child molestation jokes, Asperger/assburger jokes, transgender jokes, jokes about sticking fingers into penis holes, and situations including massive amounts of vomiting, swimming in feces, and stupid running gags about their Albanian rental car and faucets. Sounds like loads of fun.

Apart from the insufferable humor, the youngest kid of the Griswold clan, Kevin, played by Steele Stebbins, is a completely unbearable little shit. His whole shtick is that he bullies his older brother, which could have been funny had it been written better. He crosses the line from playful teasing to downright cruel and sociopathic on more than one occasion, and it's just not funny. Never. Not once. If he was my sibling, I would have popped that kid in the mouth years ago. No one deserves to be treated that way, all in the name of humor, and it was more cringeworthy than funny. And the worst part? His parents essentially let it happen all the time. We have absolutely no horse in this race as a childless couple, but the second he appeared on screen, we knew it was only going to get worse, and he is never once reprimanded for his actions. It speaks volumes that the only people who laughed at him were the three obviously 16 or 17 year olds who had snuck into the movie. Every damn time that kid appears on screen, they laughed, probably because they act the same way in real life. On a different note, we don't expect everyone who plays Rusty Griswold to do it the same way, especially when considering this is the first time he has been portrayed as an adult. The way Ed Helms plays Rusty is terrible, and to be honest, apart from his stint on "The Office" and his role in "The Hangover," we haven't liked him in much of anything since. He isn't a realistic character at all. He isn't just a father determined to give his family a good vacation, he is also a clueless idiot who shouldn't have been allowed to reproduce. The character has been turned from a snarky child to an oblivious, stupid adult, so stupid, in fact, we found ourselves surprised he could even tie his own shoelaces. Instead of focusing on actual decent character development of already known characters, "Vacation" throws a string of a dozen and one cameos, featuring the likes of Nick Kroll, Michael Pena, Charlie Day, Keegan-Michael Key, Leslie Mann, and Chris Hemsworth in the hopes that we have forgotten about how awful the movie is long enough to exclaim, "Hey! Look! It's Thor's gigantic penis!" And of course, what would "Vacation" be without Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo? Well, you're not going to find the answer here, because they are both criminally underutilized.

You know a movie is bad when the best humor in the whole film comes from a photo montage during the opening credits against the nostalgic "Holiday Road" song from the original movie. This photo montage doesn't feature anyone from the actual film in it, and maybe that's why we like it. To say we're disappointed would be false because we knew it would be bad, we just didn't know it would be this bad. Maybe we were just stupidly sentimental, but we thought we would be able to hold on to our memories of the original film for just a bit longer, and maybe we just naively figured this movie would be funnier than it was, that critics were, once again, snobbish boors with no sense of humor. At one point about halfway through the movie, I just started laughing, not because anything going on on screen was funny, but because we are just so blatantly wrong about thinking anything from Hollywood is sacred anymore. This movie sucks, plain and simple. It is foul, unfunny, and such a waste of talent. 

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~28%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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