There is a moment early on in Vacation where Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) tells his sceptical family, who apparently haven’t heard of the original 1983 film, that “the new Vacation will stand on its own”. He’s lying of course, because while Rusty is supposed to be the son of original mishap dad Clark (Chevy Chase) this is essentially a remake.
To that end it sees the Griswolds pile into a bad car and travel across the country to a theme park. Along the way they encounter all manner of crazies, end up in all sorts of embarrassing or outright disgusting situations and generally say and do things in the name of ‘comedy’.
But here’s the problem: the even remotely funny moments are few and far between and instead you’re left with a bunch of cringe worthy jokes none of which land in the right way. At what point it was considered ‘funny’ to have a family literally bath in excrement is anyone’s guess.
The key thing that the makers of the new Vacation have missed is the original was made funny by Chevy Chase, at that time at the beginning of the height of his box office prowess. Because Chase brought a naïve sense of injustice to proceedings. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong but he forever tried to stay positive. It turns out the ‘80s were a simpler time, they relied on slapstick comedy rather than gross-out gags. The point of a ‘gag’ is to not make you physically gag, as it were.
King of the ‘80s John Huges was the man who wrote the original Vacation. Harold Ramis, one of the original Ghostbusters and director of Caddyshack and Groundhog Day was the man who directed. There’s comedy pedigree right there and while new Vacation writer directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein might have a few laughs under their belts with the Horrible Bosses films they’re not quite on the same level.
As such this is one Vacation that, like the Griswolds themselves, you’ll probably regret taking. When even Chris Hemsworth and his massive (ahem) member can’t spark a laugh you know you’re in trouble.