Saturday, November 28, 2015

Phil sees VACATION from Warner Bros. Pictures-November 27, 2015

When the original NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION movie was released back in 1983, it became an instant comedy classic. The crazy, road trip shenanigans of Clark W. Griswold (portrayed by the lovable Chevy Chase) and his family as they drove across the country to the fun-filled amusement park Walley World struck a chord among fans and became a huge hit at the boxoffice, which in turned spawned a franchise. EUROPEAN VACATION came out in 1985, CHRISTMAS VACATION in 1989 (which has also become a holiday classic film) and lastly VEGAS VACATION in 1997. After that, it looked like the Griswold family would finally stay at home for good. Then it was announced that Warner Bros. were reviving the series and a new generation of fans were going to see a new Griswold family trek out to the infamous Walley World once more. So fasten your seat belts everybody, put on some traveling music and let's the open road as I review the new VACATION film.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2015)
The film's official synopsis: Hoping to bring his family closer together and to recreate his childhood vacation for his own kids, an adult Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) takes his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two sons James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins) on a cross-country road trip to Walley World. Needless to say, things don't go quite as planned.

Also appearing in the film are Leslie Mann (Audrey Crandall), Chris Hemsworth (Stone Crandall), Catherine Missal (Adena), Charlie Day (Chad), Norman Reedus (Truck Driver) and once again, Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprising their iconic roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold. 

The cast looks like they had fun making this film and it shows. I love Christina Applegate's Debbie as she is both the glue that holds the family together while trying to keep herself happy for her husband. The youngest son Kevin can give South Park's Eric Cartman a run for his money, as he's one of the most fouled mouth pre-pubescent little shit I've seen in a movie. He's the youngest and he bullies his older brother, calling him a pussy and writing "I have a vagina" on his guitar. Ed Helms makes this incarnation of Rusty so-so. I don't recall if Rusty was really this much of a loser in the previous films. I guess he changed a lot when he got older. And it was freaking awesome to see Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo return as the parental units once more. Even though Chevy's Clark is only a cameo, he makes the most of it as he reminds us just how funny he is.

First time directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein attempt to recapture the magic from the first film while trying to create a film that both stands on its own and stays in the continuum of the series. The guys do a great job of capturing the zany wackiness that transpires for our new family with fluid directing and great set-ups. The car scenes made me feel like I was there along for the ride, especially when Rusty would sing along to Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." They guys also were able to capture a lot of beautiful scenery that our favorite family travel to: from Chicago to the Grand Canyon and, of course, Walley World and even San Francisco too.

At this time I would like to point out that once again we see San Francisco in another movie. Yup, this is like the fourth time I saw the city in a movie. Let's see, this year San Franciso has appeared in TERMINATOR: GENISYS, ANT-MAN, SAN ANDREAS, and now this one. Oh, and it was on the poster for PIXELS as well getting eaten up by Pac-Man. So yeah, take that Los Angeles! San Francisco and NorCal are now where the action's at!!

Both Daley and Golstein also wrote the script as well, bringing to it a newer, more raunchier level that modern audiences seem to enjoy. Now this works twofold: the first being that it will appeal to fans that like those raunchy comedies like THE HANGOVER, THIS IS THE END, BORAT, and TED. It's loaded with fowl language, sexual situations, grotesque racial profiling and over-the-top toilet humor. So yes it was hilarious!! I laughed so hard during the entire movie. From the awesome credit intro (courtesy from the awesome people at to my favorite scene where Debbie tries to relive her sorority days and just fails miserably. Knowing this information, it makes the film work if you were expecting this type of comedy.

Now the downside is that fans of the original films will be disappointed if they were expecting something that resembles the film's they grew up with. This could alienate those hardcore fans as well as those who like their comedies more subtle and less raunchiness. Personally, it didn't bother me at all. I thought the film was funny as hell but then again I'm a weird kinda guy. I mean, I watch Troma movies for crying out loud, so this was actually tame compared to some of the other films I've seen.

So this VACATION was a blast to watch as it both honors the series while simultaneously made me laugh my ass off. That is the soul purpose of making comedies: to make us laugh and to forget about our problems for a bit. And this film did just that and then some. A great addition to this series and one you all should see. 4 out of 5 stars! Definitely worth seeing!!

VACATION was just released on both Blu-Ray and on DVD and is available at your local retailer. The film is also avaibable at your local Redbox and on Video On Demand.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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