Rating: 2 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is a success. Kind of. He is an airline pilot, albeit for a 3rd rate outfit called Econofare. He is married to still attractive Debbie (Christina Applegate), though after 20 years the relationship feels stale. Then there is his pride and joy, sons James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins). But elder son James is a bit of a dweeb and hopeless with girls, while pre-teen Kevin is hopelessly foul-mouthed and possibly displaying serial killer tendencies. After some consideration, Rusty knows exactly what the family needs: a cross-country road trip like his dad Clark (Chevy Chase) took the family on. So it is off from Chicago on a 2560 mile spiritual journey to find Walley World, and on the way bond as a family.
Even before the epic journey is to begin, there are harbingers of disaster to come. One being the vehicle Rusty has chosen for the family, the Tartan Prancer, manufactured in Albania. It has all sorts of interesting remote control features, most of which are utilized during the trip. Soon the family hits the open road, but since they are on vacation why not take a few detours for family activities and to make new memories. So the family stops off at the college where Rusty and Debbie met, including Debbie’s old sorority house. And how could you resist stopping in Hot Springs, Arkansas to enjoy those springs? Then a ways down the road Rusty laments that 30 years ago they hardly took time to appreciate the Grand Canyon, so this time they will stop and take a leisurely trip down the river with Chad (Charlie Day) as their veteran raft guide. The Griswolds even squeeze in a quick stop to see Rusty’s sister Audrey (Leslie Mann), who is married to the impossibly hunky TV weatherman Stone Crandall (Chris Hemsworth). But ultimately, the family indeed makes it to the promised land, Walley World. And their date with destiny on the Velociraptor rollercoaster….
As far as crude comedies go, this film is pretty average. It does have a few genuinely funny scenes, but mostly it feels like Ed Helms and Christina Applegate are working too hard to squeeze a little humor out of scenarios that are frequently heavy-handed and/or scatological. Not sure why Chris Hemsworth, otherwise known as Thor, opted to do this movie, but he is definitely eye candy for the ladies. There are a few good cameos, such as Colin Hanks and one of the leads from The Walking Dead. So if you’re looking for some R rated ham-fisted yuks, this one is for you.
Actress To Watch: Teenage Catherine Missa pops up in a few places to excite young Skyler in this story. I expect to see her in bigger and better roles in the near future. Just something about her….
Dialogue Nuggets: Griswold family – “Why did you get an Albanian car?” Rusty – “It has six ashtrays.”
James – “Why is Mom puking so much?” Rusty – “She’s teaching those bitches a lesson.”
Rusty to Debbie – “How come you never told me about the Debbie-Do-Anything thing?”
“DO NOT PRESS THE MUFFIN BUTTON!”
Rusty – “I was crazy to think I could bring this family together by locking them in a car for a week.”
Griswold Boy – “Our family f**ked that family up!”
Best Scene: There is a clever tribute scene to the original National Lampoon Vacation movie that featured beautiful Christie Brinkley in a hot red Ferrari teasing an aroused Clark Griswold. In this film, a gorgeous Hannah Davis in a hot red Ferrari flirts with Rusty Griswold with much different consequences.
Credits: The before and after the movie credits display pictures on screen that are apparently from real family vacations that proves all does not come out perfectly in family photos. For similar photos, go to: http://www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com