Review: Vacation Is Funnier Than Expected But Not As Funny As It Needs To Be
Director: John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein
Screenwriter: John Francis Daley (written by), Jonathan M. Goldstein (written by), and John Hughes (characters)
Principal Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbibns, Chris Hemsworth, and Leslie Mann
Summary: Rusty Griswold takes his own family on a road trip to “Walley World” in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons.
I’m trying to think back to the last time I saw the Vacation movies and I can’t honestly remember if I have or not. I’m more of a dark comedy kind of person rather than gross out jokes. The trailer for the movie Vacation seemed to be focusing on a scene that takes place in raw sewage which I just didn’t think was that funny. I’ve seen stranger things amuse me, though, and it was screening the same week as Pixels so I couldn’t see how it could possible get any worse.
Vacation was indeed funnier than I thought it was going to be, and it was also not nearly as funny as it needed to be to succeed as a movie.
I’ve always found that comedies are some of the hardest movies to review mostly because the main point of a comedy is the jokes, and if I describe the jokes then I’m basically spoiling the movie. So I’m not going to describe the jokes, but I will say that, despite only seeing maybe two trailers for Vacation, that the best jokes are in the trailer. This is a problem that seems to hit a lot of comedies these days where the marketing is trying to get people to come to the movie so they show the best jokes to entice audiences, but then there isn’t anything interesting going on in the rest of the movie.
The best moments of the movie are between brothers James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins) mostly because it’s the younger sibling that is terrorizing the older sibling and the turnaround is funny for anyone with siblings to watch. However, their arc is less about “siblings learning to like each other” as it is “James learns to be an older brother” which isn’t really better. The plot in general is just a rehash of the original movie with some new jokes. There are plenty of plots that either make no sense or go nowhere.
The thing that truly makes Vacation fail as a comedy is that it isn’t consistently funny. There are long stretches where a terrible joke either goes on too long or they don’t take advantage of the few jokes that really work. The entire enterprise just feels incredibly cynical because this isn’t a movie that was made to bring in money from fans of the previous movies. This wasn’t made by fans either, because fans would have been able to capture the thing that made the other movies so popular. Vacation is the definition of corporate filmmaking hoping to make some money off of a property’s existing fanbase thinking that rehashing the same jokes is the way to go about doing it.
Vacation might not be the most offensive thing in theaters at the moment but it is one of the more depressing. The few good jokes are in the trailers and the rest fall flat. If you’re truly a fan of the popular Vacation franchise you’re much better off streaming the original movies at home than going to the theaters to see this new installment.