Vacation was one of those films where when I saw the first trailer, I was sold from the beginning. The trailer was so good that I actually included it in last month's Movie Trailer Round-Up that I put together.
I grew up watching the old Vacation films and knew that this film had a lot of the same flavor while simultaneously mixing in the modern day humor our society seems to enjoy. It looked to be a very twisted take on an "innocent" family vacation.
Seeing the cast of actors in this film was a large part of the appeal. You had Ed Helms (The Hangover), Christina Applegate (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers), and Leslie Mann (The Other Woman). All of these stars have a huge draw for fans and they all were appealing for me to see as the trailer really showcased how potentially funny this film could be.
I was so excited when I learned that there was a pre-screening available in my area to see the film, so I, of course, jumped at the chance to see it. Here's a bit of what I like and disliked about the movie.
Just as I expected from the trailer, the characters in the film were phenomenally funny. Every member of this new Griswold family was cast perfectly.
Ed Helms has the perfect amount of dorkiness to play the grown up son of Clark Griswold from the original movies. I also find him extremely relatable, even my wife told me that he reminded her of me. He has this nice guy personality that makes you love what he's about in that he just wants to be with his family, he has reactions to these terrible events that keep you busting a gut, and he has a tendency to spontaneously sing Seal's 'Kiss From a Rose' which, my wife can attest to, is something I do often (it's just fun, don't judge me).
Christina Applegate does a great job playing off of Ed Helms. She's almost riding the border of being a terrible person as she is completely nonsupporting and unappreciative of her husband and his efforts. But she's not completely unlikable as she does provide many of the laughs in the film, especially at her old college and during the "Griswold Springs" scene.
The Griswold boys, James and Kevin, are perfectly played by actors Skylar Gisondo and Steele Stebbins. It's a very funny thing to see a sensitive soul like James being picked on by his younger brother Kevin. And, boy, does the kid do some pretty awful things; ranging from something minor like writing "I have a vagina" on James' guitar to something as evil as trying to make James blackout by putting a plastic bag over his head in the car.
That being said, I'll say that Kevin, although funny and ruthless, was way too foul-mouthed for my liking. I think the whole "kids cussing is funny" schtick is unappealing and was a little overused in the film, but the writers didn't rely on just that and he still brought a few good laughs.
Chris Hemworth and Leslie Mann both bring a lot to the film. They're shameless affection for each other is enough to cause a few awkward moments for the Griswolds, but at the same time, you can tell they have their issues - which we hear mention of later in the film in more detail. Leslie Mann has always been funny in everything she's been in, so it came as no surprise that she was as hilarious as she was. I think it's safe to say that Chris Hemsworth stole the show with his shameless open flirting, though.
Then there's the scene that will probably be the most talked about. When Chris Hemsworth is walking around in his underwear and...how should I put this...is sort of showcasing the "whole package," which, although disgusting, was pretty hilarious too considering the reactions of the two main characters.
I will say that I didn't really appreciate the little jab at "conservatives" that the film took where we see things about him not letting his wife work, his guns, as well as a handful of other things. I'm a conservative person so when I hear it mentioned, I sort of brace myself for it. It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, though.
The humor in the film, for the most part, was top of the line humor that is very reminiscent of The Hangover and those type of raunchy, uncaring comedies. Obviously, my humor isn't always on key with that type of humor but I can appreciate a lot of it. I will say that I, unlike so many other people it seems, don't find sexuality and nudity to be so funny. Innuendos and suggestive themes can be pretty hilarious at times but finding yourself interrupting some orgy where there are naked people running all over the place from the police just isn't that funny to me. It turns me off from the film in those moments, actually. But there was only one scene where something like that took place, thankfully.
The classic scene where the Griswold father is distracted by the attractive girl in the Ferrari returns in this film, but it doesn't get raunchy. The scene actually takes a pretty hilarious albeit dark turn.
There's also some very welcomed cameos in the movie. Ranging from the original Griswold parents, played by Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, as well as other actors such as Ron Livingston, Keegan-Michael Key, Charlie Day, Michael Pena, and a special surprise cameo from an actor who stars in one of the biggest television shows in the world right now...I won't say 'cause I don't want to spoil it, but be on the lookout.
The movie, overall, was pretty funny despite my not caring for the brief graphic nudity and the over use of cussing. Ed Helms perfectly captures the sort of character that Chevy Chase did so many years ago. The antics that come with the family trip are reminiscent of the older movies without fully relying on redoing the same jokes over again. Every actor did a great job, the writing was clever, and the directing was superb.
If you like R-rated raunchy comedies, then this is right up your alley. I honestly never sat in a theater where people were laughing so hard before. I even found myself almost in tears from laughing too hard at certain times.
This movie is pretty much a soft reboot of the old, hilarious franchise. Honestly, I see this being the beginning of another hilarious franchise.