Cert: 15 / 99 mins / Dir. John Francis Daley / Trailer
Well, there's a turn-up. The trailer for Warner Bros' retooling of the National Lampoons' Vacation franchise has been played to death in recent weeks, and it did less to boost my confidence with each re-watch. That the movie has had a right kicking from reviewers in the US didn't help either, so I braced myself for the worst as I sat down for a preview-showing. I mean, I've seen worse in the last month, right?
Well actually, yes. Sure, the minimalistically rebranded Vacation isn't quite as sweet-natured or nostalgic as it'd like to think it is, the gross-out moments aren't as subversive or anarchic as they probably felt in the script-meetings, and the references and in-jokes to the earlier films aren't as clever or subtle as the screenwriters had hoped. But the film more than passed the laugh-test. The chemistry of Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Grisondo and Steele Stebbins papers over the cracks and makes for a consistently amusing series of interlinked sketches (which is no more or less than what these movies are intended to be, to be fair).
I laughed, the audience laughed, the film went down very well. Tellingly, most of the gags from the trailer fell a little flat, probably as a result of repeated exposure in recent weeks, so the film's going to be funniest the first time you see it (although the plastic-bag joke worked just as well, probably because it's longer and even more sadistic in the film). Vacation doesn't get too misty-eyed for the past, littered with more than its fair share of bad language and questionable subject matter, but by the same token, it never forgets that it's a film about the Griswold family. And just when you think Chris Hemsworth has overplayed his comedic hand a little, Chevy Chase is wheeled out for a few scenes in the final act and threatens to derail the entire thing. He's not awful (and obviously deserves a place at the table) but his performance is, to put it politely, batshit.
Far better than it has any real right to be, Vacation mixes the farce of The Griswolds with the faeces of The Hangover and just about gets away with it. This time.Don't tell anyone.
Against my wiser instincts, I rather enjoyed it.
I'm not sure I'd go that far…
This is a DVD with some friends and a few drinks. It won't be a bad movie to have on the shelf, but don't buy it until the price drops.
Again, not sure I'd go that far, although Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins steal the show as the squabbling Griswold kids.
Be an entertaining, disposable Summer comedy? Yes.
Reinvigorate the Vacation franchise for another run of movies? …I'm not sure I'd go that far.
Not at all.
The film features Chris 'Thor' Hemsworth who was in the Avengers movies, of course, with Sam 'Windu' Jackson.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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