Review by Gordon Justesen
Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, Chris Hemsworth, Beverly D’Angelo,
Directors: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: November 3, 2015
“If Vin Diesel can do it, so can I!”
The Vacation series of comedies have run pretty much hot and cold with me. I’m a huge fan of the original 1983 comedy as well as Christmas Vacation. As for the European and Vegas installments, well, forgettable is about as kind a description as we’re gonna get.
Which brings us to this year’s Vacation, a sequel/reboot of the ever bumbling Griswold family and their never ending quest to pull off the greatest road trip ever. However, the focus of this particular adventure is Rusty Griswold, seen as a youngster in all the previous movies but now in grown up form and played by Ed Helms. He now works as a pilot for a more budget efficient version of a major airline.
In an effort to bring his family closer together, Rusty initiates a road vacation to (where else?) Wally World. And therein lies the first problem with the movie. Since this franchise has run out of places to venture to, and is choosing Wally World once again as the destination, then what other purpose does this movie have than to call back to a much better comedy?
It wouldn’t be a problem if the movie was funny and although there are a few chuckles to be had here and there, I’d say about 75% of the gags in this movie fall flat on their face. And like so many lazy comedies these days, it relies heavily on excessive gross out humor. It’s interesting to look at the better films in this series and note that although the humor had an edgy feel to it, they never much relied on toilet humor at all to be the least bit funny. Whereas in this movie, it treats a scene where the family swims in hot spring water filled with defecation as the hallmark of comedy.
The movie also incorporates an irritating running gag involving the oldest son of the family being continuously tormented by his much younger brother, who says offensive things simply because the movie thinks it’s funny. I like to think of myself as a good natured human being, but not since Atonement have I wanted to see a young kid suffer the worst death imaginable. But the movie celebrates this character thoroughly, and not even his comeuppance is satisfying in any way.
And we do get a pop up from Chevy Chase along the way, and it’s about as flat and painful as one would expect. To say that he’s not even trying in the brief screen time he has is a tremendous understatement. In fact, I think Christmas Vacation might be the last film he was seriously funny in.
The effort was well worth it, and I’m always up for seeing the very likable Ed Helms headlining a comedy, but Vacation has got to be the final nail in the coffin for this comedy franchise.
The Blu-ray presentation from Warner is most exceptional. The image is consistently bright, with all of the landscapes on the titular road trip captured terrifically well. Detail and clarity is non stop from beginning to end, and colors are handled in fantastic form!
The DTS HD mix does have plenty to work with here. The physical comedy, especially the moments involving auto mayhem, playoff the sound channels incredibly. Music playback and dialogue delivery are also top notch and balance out in top notch quality.
Included on this Blu-ray are two featurettes, “Return to Wally World” and “The Griswold Odyssey, the second of which is actually a well detailed look at each stop on the family’s escapade. Also included are Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel.
Vacation should have been an easy task to pull off in terms of rebooting a familiar comedy franchise. Unfortunately, it takes the lazy approach one too many times and becomes utterly pointless in the end.