With Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Chris Hemsworth, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo
Written by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein (based on characters created by John Hughes)
Directed by John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein
On hearing that the legendary Chevy Chase comedy vehicle National Lampoon's Vacation is getting a remake, I had an instant Generation X "don't mess with '80s classics" knee-jerk reaction - Not only because I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to Hollywood cashing in on great memories of the past (over my formative years), but also because so few have proven to match or surpass the originals.
Sure, there are new generations with new sensibilities, special effects have advanced, and dated style, fashion and technology need contemporizing to appeal to a modern audience… Bullshit - Citizen Kane, Psycho, Taxi Driver and other films of the past are capsules of those eras and I don't want everything to look like the current world out there - isn't that the purpose of new movies?
Mainstream cinematic productions are essentially escapism and if it's good, needn't be constantly updated, as the writing, actors, directors and flavour of its time combine for a magic result (for example, will Seinfeld be better if they redo that legendary series to include smart phones and tablets? You know the answer to that). I do think tales like Roald Dahl's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory are open to reinterpretations, but those are few and far between. Anyway, back to the movie at hand!
So, if you haven't seen the originals, those 4 movies take the Griswold family (led by their idiotic but endearing dad Clark) to holiday destinations from Wally World and Europe, to Christmas at home and Vegas (plus an extra uninspired spin-off with supporting character Randy Quaid).
Here they try to go beyond a mere remake, adding to the Vacation legacy with a contuation by focussing on the Griswold's son Rusty, now grown with a family of his own. Their kids think he's a dork (with a bit too much of Clark in his genes) and he tries to bring the family together by replicating that epic (yet disastrous) drive they took cross-country to the Wally World amusement park three decades prior. Naturally the trip takes equally calamitous turns that do serve up some laughs (and often bad taste giggles), but obviously head towards bringing the family together.
The late great John Hughes was responsible for the birth of the Griswolds in its first outing in 1983 (perfecting the comedic disfunctional American suburban family dynamic) - and if you didn't know, he's the guy who pretty much single-handedly created the 'Bratpack' actor generation, and a host of timeless teen comedies, from Pretty In Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, to The Breakfast Club and less teen-centric classics like Planes, Trains And Automobiles.
If this version leads to people discovering the originals, I reckon it was worth it.
(I bought the Blu-ray box set a while back and will regularly revisit the timeless laughs trapped therein).
PS. Glad they included Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo in cameos, but it would've been great for old school fans if Christy Brinkley and her red Ferrari was also brought back.
3 / C
- Paul Blom
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- A - B - C