Vacation movie posterJudging from the trailer, and fond memories of the 1983 comedy-adventure classic National Lampoon’s Vacation, one might logically surmise that the new Vacation movie is a must-see for first-generation Griswold family followers and their offspring. But one would be very, very wrong. This movie tanks, in a horrifically comical way.

I laughed – a bit. I groaned – a lot. I checked my watch – often.

When the lights mistakenly came up in the theater about two-thirds of the way through the 99-minute movie, I concluded it was a calculated error – designed to light up the exits for a faster escape. I stayed through the end, hoping the movie would somehow redeem itself with the appearance of Chevy Chase as the Griswold patriarch. Spoiler alert: He does show up. But it doesn’t help.

Here’s the plot, in a nutshell: Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is all grown up, and has become a husband, a father, and a pilot for a low-budget airline. In an effort to promote some much-needed family bonding, Rusty decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and take the family on a cross-country drive to Wally World theme park. He piles the wife (Christina Applegate) and two sons into a cheap rental car and they hit the road for a trip down memory lane. What follows is a succession of physical comedy gags, foul language, gross-out moments and borderline (and over the line) offensive encounters. The individual performances are fine. They just don’t add up to a good movie.

It’s possible that my pan of Vacation is the result of profound disappointment in what could and should have been. Maybe I’m no longer the right demographic. Perhaps my expectations were set too high. I seem to remember the original Vacation as a fun, relatable flick. This Vacation – like its predecessor – is rated R. It’s not a movie for the ‘whole family’ – unless the whole family is over 16 and particularly fond of sophomoric humor.

Bottom line: Save your money for a real Vacation.

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