Vacation (2015) – A Review

Vacation 2015 comedy movie Ed Helms Christina Applegate
Vacation

This is a truly terrible movie.

So like every other title that people have a nostalgic affection for and was a popular movie a generation ago, today it needs to get some kind of update. No it’s not a full blown remake this time, it’s a ‘sequel’ that’s meant to ‘reboot’ the Vacation franchise. I guess they’re hoping for future installments of this new Griswold clan going on vacations to various destinations.

If the universe has any mercy it won’t allow that to happen.

It’s the same story as the 1983 original movie. Ed Helms (who can be funny, but I don’t think is made to be a comedy leading man and this flick reinforces that belief) is grown up Rusty Griswold who decides to take wife Christina Applegate and their two sons, whatever their names are, on a road trip to Walley World. Comedy ensues – or at least it’s supposed to.

This was written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein. I just want to make sure to note those responsible for this and have this movie follow them around for the rest of their careers. Oh yeah, Chris Hemsworth and Leslie Mann can also share in the shame.

I stumbled onto this on cable recently. I came in during the middle and was shocked at how bad it was. Not one single funny moment. In fairness and willing to purposely inflict additional torture on myself, I did end up going back to watch the beginning, thinking maybe there was funny stuff I missed. I wanted to give Vacation a chance to win me over with….at least one amusing scene. Nope. From beginning to end this movie is appalling. Definitely the worst movie I’ve seen in a very long time. If you thought any of the Vacation sequels were lousy, they are nothing compared to the trash this flick is. Save yourself the pain and go watch Vegas Vacation instead! At least that one had a few pleasant jokes!

Let’s get the comparisons out of the way. This does not in any way resemble the original 1983 film, or any of it’s sequels. The only thing here that rings with familiarity is the family’s name, the destination of Walley World and Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo making awkward cameo appearances. That’s it! If you’re thinking, ‘the original movies were funny so this has to have some chuckles’. No. No it doesn’t.

Vacation 2016 movie Ed Helms Christina Applegate sequel horrible disgusting comedy

Let’s do another comparison of the type of humor this movie has. Kind of try to give you an idea of the level of comedy this flick contains, although you probably got clued in on it by the trailer.

In ’83 the Griswolds arrive at a campgrounds. The kids are all excited because there’s a pool there. They run to it all happy, the camera pans up as they get a good look at it. It’s dirty water filled with junk floating around and ducks are swimming in it.

In 2015 The Griswold’s jump into what they think is a natural spring, but it’s actually a raw sewerage dump. They spend several minutes rubbing poop on their faces, gargling the water and throwing needles at each other before they realize what they’re swimming in.

The whole stylish ‘less is more’ aspect of humor vanished some time ago in comedy films I guess. This is a perfect movie to demonstrate how far comedies today have fallen. It’s not just hugely unfunny, it’s insipid, lazy, raunchy, gross, disgusting, excessive attempted humor. There’s not so much jokes, but just ‘Ew gross!’ moments. Vacation is an ideal example of why I rarely bother with comedies made these days.

The humor is a string of vile gags, dick jokes and vulgarity. Oh, you might be saying, ‘yeah, but the original movie had some gross humor in it. It was a rated R movie.’ I’ll give you that. But it had nowhere near the avalanche of disgusting comedy this movie contains. It also had some actual comedy, characters, some sentiment, a satiric take on a family vacation and a story, all things that this movie lacks. Puke, poop and cursing is the only thing on display in this putrid movie. There is absolutely nothing else.

Vacation 2015 comedy awful terrible unfunnyIt’s as if they said to themselves, “We’re making an R-rated comedy, so we have to earn it tenfold!” So the jokes are disgusting sightgags and toilet humor. No worries about intelligent setups to them, just have someone puke or have a little kid yell the F word – numerous times over and over again and bam you got a comedy! I can’t imagine how they would ever be to able to edit this flick to make it safe for network television.

The original Griswold’s you kind of liked. These people in this car are annoying and/or forgettable or both! There are no likable characters. Zero. There are no amusing road detours. No funny oddball characters they meet on the way. No unexpected surprising gags. And not one wit of intelligence from anyone onscreen or from those responsible who made this. There’s a lot of screaming and people yelling “Ughh”, but that’s about as sophisticated it gets.

Comedy is exaggeration. You overplay some kind of situation or character to yield a laugh. But there’s also a balancing act you should do to keep that situation or character somewhat relatable to an audience. They identify with what’s happening, there’s a loose reality going on and look how funny things escalated from it.

Vacation Chevy Chase 1983 Ed Helms 2016 comedy
1983 Humor vs 2016 Humor

This movie is completely stupid over-the-top cartoonish obnoxious vulgarity. When I saw the trailer that’s what I thought it would be and holy mackerel did it deliver on that! Some people might laugh at this nonsense, I’m not one of them. I’d gladly take a simple scene of Chase awkwardly spilling the families food at a roadside restaurant than watching Helms riding an ATV into a cow and getting covered in its blood and guts.

Oh it has those required references and homages to the original ’83 movie that are there to desperately satisfy those who want to shout out ‘Hey, I remember that!” and attempt to make a loose connection to the original film, but the movie has nothing worthwhile to offer up on its own. I highly doubt in thirty years they’ll be having a reunion photoshoot of this cast. Based on how poorly this movie was received it might hopefully be the end of the road for this Vacation series.

One of the absolute worst movies I’ve seen in quite a long time! Utter garbage.


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4 Responses

  1. Capt. Nemo says:

    "The whole stylish 'less is more' aspect of humor vanished some time ago in comedy films I guess. This is a perfect movie to demonstrate how far comedies today have fallen. It's not just hugely unfunny, it's insipid, lazy, raunchy, gross, disgusting, excessive attempted humor. There's not so much jokes, but just 'Ew gross!' moments. Vacation is an ideal example of why I rarely bother with comedies made these days."

    : claps hands together:

    Okay, Are we ready for Ghostbusters!

    • After watching this I told my friend there is no way Ghostbusters is going to be worse than this. I don't think it will be possible. It looks bad, but I can't see it being as bad as Vacation. I'll be stunned if that happens.

    • Nathan says:

      I'm not sure who I picked it up from, but one of my favorite sayings is as follows.

      "The one thing both optimists and pessimists would agree on is that things can always be worse…"

  2. CKulik says:

    Hey Hap, my fellow VACATION critic! Thank god I saw this for free, as every single word you wrote rang true in every possible way. The writer and directors of this garbage took a massive dump on the original, its sequels and its fans. Poor Harold Ramis: we now have not one but TWO horrible remakes of films (both featuring the same Hemsworth, oh the humanity!) he was very creatively involved in that come off as borderline, if not outright, offensive to fans and audiences. Good shout-out to VEGAS VACATION, too…trust me, it will play better on a 2nd viewing in another 10 years, unlike this cinematic equivalent of herpes.

    What I hated most were the kids. Seriously fucking hate them so much it made me yearn for Jake Lloyd just a bit…even the kids in EUROPEAN VACATION were more talented and likable than these little shits. If you ask me this film actually promotes bullying with the younger brother's antics, and that is what really pissed me off more than anything else. And, yes, the cameos by Chase and D'Angelo were beyond awkward: when they come out of the house, we don't even see D'Angelo's face because of Chase hogging the spotlight. I love Christina Applegate and Leslie Mann, thought they would bring some charm and they were defeated by this terrible, terrible script. All of the actors were just wasted beyond all comprehension.

    I've still never seen the direct-to-video sequel to CHRISTMAS VACATION, but now I wonder if that could actually be worse than this in terms of the entire series. Hopefully you are right in that the new GHOSTBUSTERS won't be near as awful as the new VACATION, but I still believe it will bomb spectacularly and will go down as a genuine embarrassment to all concerned. Great review once again Hap, you nailed it!

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