ByJames McDonald, writer at
James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
James McDonald

Rusty Griswold takes his own family on a road trip to “Walley World” in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons.

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” is considered a classic by many, myself included. I grew up in the 80’s and watched a lot of movies and this was one of those that was viewed repeatedly. Friends would stay over at our house and we would watch NLV over and over because at the time, we considered it hilarious. Today, while the movie is still entertaining, it is not as laugh-out-loud funny as it once used to be but that’s because like the film itself, I, and everybody else back in the 80’s, have matured (we hope) and the sense of humor we possessed back when we were teenagers, has changed over time. With the new “Vacation,” there is absolutely nothing new about it but that is not a criticism, in fact, it’s a compliment because while the story is basically a carbon copy of the first movie, directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein add enough sight gags and celebrity cameos to keep you entertained the whole way through.

Every year, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) takes his beautiful wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins) on vacation to the same cabin in the woods but this year, after accidentally overhearing Debbie tell a neighbor that she is fed up with the cabin, Rusty decides to change things up and announces to his family that they are going to make the several thousand mile trip to Wally World, the exact same trip he made as a boy with his family in the first movie. With everyone initially skeptical, Rusty gives them the obligatory inspirational speech at which point everybody is on board and off we go on another Griswold Vacation. The movie is step-by-step identical to its 1983 predecessor including the now-famous Ferrari scene in which Christie Brinkley drives alongside Chevy Chase’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster but thanks to the folks in marketing, they ruined the outcome of one of the funniest moments in the movie by including it in the trailer.

Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo make an appearance as the original Griswolds, Clark and Ellen and Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, has great fun playing Rusty’s brother-in-law Stone Crandall, a Texas weather man with the hots for Debbie who is hung like a donkey and likes to walk around in his briefs, showing off the outline of his, ahem, pocket rocket. Ed Helms embodies many of the physical traits that made Chevy Chase such a funny leading man back in the day and one of the more humorous scenes involves Rusty surprising Debbie by unexpectedly dropping by her old sorority where he discovers her old college nick-name, “Debbie Do Anything.” Charlie Day has a hilarious cameo as a white-water rafting guide who has just been dumped by his fiancée in the throes of taking the Griswolds boating while Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key and Regina Hall all pop up in entertaining cameos. “Vacation” is nostalgic to those who grew up with the originals but for everyone else, you’ll either love it or hate it.

In theaters July 29th

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