Vacation

This film certainly held more promise than most remakes. With an A-list cast, a clever premise and the iconic source material, it would be almost impossible to come up with a movie that was less than passable. Somehow, they managed.

Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is all grown up with a family of his own. He is a commercial pilot at a discount airline, and has a loving wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). When another Memorial Day weekend at the family cabin seems unbearable, Rusty decides to recreate his childhood road trip to Wally World--and off they go.

As you would expect, they encounter high jinks, shenanigans and monkey business. Mostly, however, they discover comedy gone wrong. A visit to Debbie’s old college sorority should have been fertile comedy soil. Meanwhile, jokes about child abduction with a mysterious truck driver fall so flat they almost kill the movie. (However, this film’s death is more like Murder on the Orient Express--multiple stab wounds from different assailants.)

I feel like the studio gave this movie the green light without a script. Who needs a script? Funny people, funny concept, it’ll be a smash. From the ham-handed references to the original, to the awkward sight gags, to the The Hangover-style slideshow at the end to the mystifying choice of Seal’s Kiss from a Rose as the family’s travel anthem, the entire movie fails. The one reprieve is Charlie Day’s turn as a recently dumped white-water rafting guide. The rest of the movie just leaves me wondering how it all went so very wrong. It’s a 4.