Friday, 20 November 2015

Vacation (2015)

The National Lampoon's franchise is a strange beast that includes a wide variety of movies that range from downright cult classics, to utter bottom of the barrel dross. Aside from the odd one or two, the main movies within the franchise have to be the Vacation flicks which have become the epitome of pure 80's Americana and beyond. The original trilogy consisting of a road trip movie, a holiday abroad and being at home for Christmas, literately resonates with everyone (of a certain age perhaps) and never fails to please. They fit right in at the right times, you can't go wrong at Christmas with 'Christmas Vacation'.

Now the big question is, could this new movie (sequel/reboot) manage to hold its own, or would it fall into a pit of pathetic fan service and rehashed gags from the originals? Well everything starts off perfectly, how can it fail not too with that classic rock tune 'Holiday Road'. Yes that sounds like they are just rehashing but lets be honest here, how can you not have that song, its a must, 15 love to the movie. So a nostalgic, rose tinted ripple thundered its way through my body as the credits fired up and you get that familiar montage of family photos/images through the years. So far everything looked good, they seemed to have the right vibe going, that is until we see Ed Helms as a grown-up Rusty and the first visual gag. Basically Rusty is an airline pilot and has stepped out of the cab for a moment, he greets a young boy and his parents. Suddenly the plane hits some turbulence and Rusty's hands are thrown onto the mothers boobies, turbulence hits again and his face hits the child's crotch. This really did feel kinda creepy and childish, not that I am expecting intelligent humour here but also gave us the first of a tonne of profanity. Did the original movies use so much profanity? no, the odd word, one or two, but no, it they didn't need to, so why is this full of it?

Alas everything goes down hill pretty fast from this point (in my view). For starters, its not too long after that we discover the plot is just another road trip to Wally World (ugh!). Admittedly there is a reasonably funny scene where the characters address this rehash by making fun of the reboot notion, claiming it won't be the same shit as before but something entirely new etc...Clever, but unfortunately they lied, because the film is pretty much the same as the original (ugh!!). Alongside the miscast Helms as Rusty there is Christina Applegate as his wife, never a great sign as Applegate is pretty much a B-list/B-movie actress, and two young lads as their sons (amazed there were no young daughters). One of the boys is small, very rude and obnoxious, he swears a lot which is not a funny as it sounds. The other is the older of the two, bigger, but very effeminate, this guy wasn't too bad and had some decent laughs with his wimpiness. There are also some big cameos in the form of Chris Hemsworth as Audrey's husband who is just some stereotypical jock cowboy type, and of course we see Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprising their roles but not really doing or offering much at the same time. Supposedly a passing of the torch setup, but I'm not overly sure if we're getting anymore of these soooo...

Most everything else we see is merely rehashed from the older better movies I'm afraid, its amazing how Hollywood just never learns. We get another sexy girl in a red Ferrari, sure there's a twist for her, but who cares, still the same bloody joke. Even one of the young boys gets a sexy girl of his age in another car setup, just like the Ferrari girl, I mean come on! The plot does resemble the plot layout of the original movie, with the same type of stop overs and the same type of basic story arc, but of course being 2015 the subplots are more relevant. But again its all predictable stuff such as a really dirty, unhygienic motel, some sort of frat house party scenario, the weird foreign car, a crazy trucker (ala 'Duel'), running out of gas in the middle of nowhere and trying to have sex unsuccessfully. Things become really forced and desperate when at one point, Clark and Ellen give Rusty their old Wagon Queen Family Truckster to continue the road trip. Apparently the same Wagon Queen Family Truckster from the original movie, or so it appears. Just in case you forgot this was a National Lampoon's sequel/reboot and they managed to squeeze every last drop of nostalgia into this project. Why would they still even have that car??

This movie has moments of decent entertainment that hark back to the good old days but overall its just a very very average film. I really didn't like the excessive profanity which is peppered throughout, including the soundtrack, I really thought it was unnecessary. There is also quite a bit of gore and hints at gore which again kinda felt unnecessary for this type of flick, they really seemed to go far too adult orientated here. It just felt like they ditched the original charm and made everything more...vile, if I can use that word without sounding too extreme. Pretty big swing and miss for me, you can't just rely on the epic main title tune and two cameos.