The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Vacation (2015) | Ed Helms, Christina Applegate,Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Norman Reedus, Michael Peña, Charlie Day | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE

Vacation (2015) | Ed Helms, Christina Applegate,Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Norman Reedus, Michael Peña, Charlie Day | Review

The Griswolds just can’t stop going places, no matter how awkward or gross or embarrassing or just plain horrible the outcome.  There must be a market for screwy road trips and improbable occurrences, because this is the seventh film in the franchise that includes the first iconic National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) NL’s European Vacation (1985) NL’s Christmas Vacation (1989) and Vegas Vacation (1997) NL’s Christmas Vacation 2 (made for TV 2003) and Hotel Hell Vacation (short, 2010).  Somebody get these guys a map.


This time, it’s Rusty (Ed Helms) who hits the road with his own family, trying to recreate a nostalgic childhood vacation trip (Chicago to Walley World) while slamming into every single speed bump along the way.  Rusty has inherited his dad’s penchant for bad timing, hard luck, and unfailing optimism.


Wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) sensitive, poetry-writing eldest son James (Skyler Gisondo) and potty-mouthed younger son Kevin (Steele Stebbins) pile into a boxy, blue Tartan Prancer - an Albanian import with a two gas tanks, a remote-operated detachable bumper and backseat rear-view mirrors - to roll into a tangle of mishaps that include bathing in a sewage-filled swamp, taking a near fatal white water rafting trip, visiting Debbie’s alma mater for an unexpected puke-fest, getting robbed, and dropping in on Rusty’s sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) who is blissfully married to Stone (Chris Hemsworth) a rich, testosterone-fueled weatherman (and cattle rancher).


One of Stone’s steers does not survive an encounter with an ATV-driving Rusty, and Stone’s barely disguised “family jewels” make an unnerving BVD-clad appearance.  A renegade trucker with a teddy bear on his front grill stalks the family at intervals because, well, they’re the Griswolds and that’s just how they roll.  What’s a little menace amid all the mishaps, anyway?


Still, the family perseveres, (even if the Prancer doesn’t) making it all the way to San Francisco to visit Rusty’s parents, Clark and Ellen (Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo) the proprietors of a bed and breakfast.  Will they make it to Walley World despite their lack of clothes, money, transportation?  The Velociraptor, a large triple corkscrew roller coaster awaits, and becomes the symbol (and metaphor) of the entire trip.


This new Vacation maintains the old premise of improbability, stringing together a group of comedy sketches that place the Griswolds in absurd, inexplicable situations that are made worse by the family’s bad decision-making.  Quick pacing extricates the viewer and keeps the story from getting mired in any one situation for too long, a good thing because the eye rolls alone are enough to be deadly.


Ed Helms inhabits the goofy but likeable Rusty, and Christina Applegate combines comedic timing with an everywoman sensibility.  Leslie Mann is the ditzy Audrey and Chris Hemsworth gives everyone an eyeful of his – ahem – man part when he camps it up for Rusty and Debbie.  Whoa, how Chevy Chase has changed, and whoa, how Beverly D’Angelo has tried not to.  Both sport unnaturally fixed smiles and dazed eyes, as if to say, what year is this again?
Norman Reedus, Michael Peña and Charlie Day have small roles that contribute to the Griswold madness.


Writer/directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daly (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) make their feature directing debut by trying mightily to emulate former director Harold Ramis and screenwriter John Hughes’ classic family adventure of the same name, but succeeding only in upping the profanity, snark, and gross factors.  Gone is the good natured naiveté of the first, and that hole in the road makes for a bumpy ride.


More of a retread than a sequel, this Vacation trip covers some old territory but misses the exit to memorable by a mile.


Three

 

 

 

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