The remake of the 1983 hilarious National Lampoon’s Vacation is just as hilarious, but with a heavy r-rating and a lot of f-words. Still, the remake is true to the original in so many ways you’ll almost forget about the dip into the unnecessary nearly x-rated humor and laugh you f-ing asses off. Movie review.
By Ray Hanania
One of my all time great movies ever is National Lampoon’s Vacation, starring Chevy Chase and Beverly DeAngelo as the Griswolds as they take their two kids, Rusty and Audrey to Wally World.
I don’t know if Walley World really exists in California or if it’s just a script writer’s dream version of Disney World, but the 1983 movie and the Lindsey Buckingham theme song “Holiday Road” together bring back the greatest memories I have ever had of family, friends and life.
“I found out long ago … oh, oh, oh, oh, oh …
it is a long way down the Holiday Road … oh, oh, oh, oh, oh …”
If that lyric means nothing to you, then don’t even waste your time reading the rest of this review or seeing the new movie remake, Vacation, starring Ed Helms (who I first saw in Office) as Rusty, and Christina Applegate (the charming sexed up daughter, Kelly Bundy, in the TV sitcom Married with Children) plays Rusty’s wife, Debbie.
Married with Children, and especially Applegate, also pushed the envelop on suggestive sexual innuendo and images in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But they didn’t use the F-Word. They didn’t have to, in order to make their sexed-up humorous points.
The new Vacation is filled with sex, bad words, bad lyrics, wrapped around some hilarious scenarios that the younger Griswolds find themselves experiencing in the same way that Rusty and his family did in the 1980s.
Yet, Why do today’s producers feel compelled to unwrap the innuendo and serve it up raw in movies? The new Vacation is dirty. It’s naughty. It’s explicit.
I can handle a few F-words. I can handle the sexual innuendo. But don’t over do it. (There is a rap song in the new Vacation that is laced with F-words, over and over again. Great song, lousy lyrics. Fortunately, you won’t find it listed anywhere on iTunes, and I don’t have its name.)
It was the same thing in the Melissa McCarthy film, Spy, which came out in June. Hilarious, except for the F-words, C-word – yes, that one! In my review, I compared McCarthy to a funny “Tony Montana” in Brian DePalma’s brutal movie Scarface, starring Al Pacino, which came out the same year as Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation.
The new Vacation movie plot is very familiar and that’s what makes it successful, despite the bad language. We follow Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) and his wife, Debbie Griswold (Christina Applegate), and their two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins), as they embark on their own vacation to bring the family together. Gisondo plays the older son who is bullied by his younger brother, and that’s where the word “vagina” comes in; a lot.
At the end of the film as the movie reaches its climactic crisis, Rusty and the family end up in San Francisco at their parents B&B where Chevy Chase reprises his role as Clark Griswold and Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen, offering them advice to not give up in their dream.
The jokes have to do with pedophiles, AIDs, the F-word, S-word, sex, penis references and images, vaginas and worse. Worse?
Still, this movie meant so much to me when I was growing up and just hearing the Lindsey Buckingham song (Holiday Road) makes me stop whatever I am doing to remember, reminisce and smile.
Normally, I don’t laugh through F-bomb humor. It’s just not funny. Even when I do my standup comedy, I don’t use the F-Word. You don’t have to in order to make audiences laugh. But performing at the old Riddles Comedy Club in Orland Park, I remember the younger audiences wanted it. You could just say the F-Word and they would laugh.
Is that where the Millennials have forked away from the Baby Boomers? No pun intended!
But the Ed Helms, Christina Applegate sequel plays so closely to the original Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo hit that I couldn’t help myself from enjoying it and laughing out loud in this film more than I ever have in any film in years. And, neither could the packed Orland Park movie theater.
Granted, it was a generational laughter. All the old dinosaurs in the audience were laughing, maybe like me, seeing something on the big screen but remembering a movie image from the past.
It was not comfortable at times sitting there with my 14-year-old son as the 2015 version of the movie takes the sexual innuendo of the 1983 film and throws it in your face.
But my son let the bad words and sex parade just fly over his head without much notice at all as he focused on the bigger picture.
This is a great film. But it is kind of like having to stand in a toilet to watch it.
Harold Ramis, the Highland Park, Illinois director of the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie, who I knew, has to be rolling over in his grave.
Although in today’s world, I guess, Ramis would have expected the dialogue to “blue-up” the sex from suggestive to in-your-face, leaving almost nothing to the audience’s imagination.
The updated film takes us through the near identical scenarios as the original film and the jokes and humor from 1983 are just as funny reframed in 2015.
Crazy Grand Canyon river rafting guide. Whacked out trucker. Woman driving a high performance sports car dashing her blond hair back with suggestive looks at Rusty as he drives down the highway while the family sleeps. Attempted sex at four corners. Car breaks down.
And Rusty reunites with his sister, Audrey, who has married a self-centered handsome TV newsman, Stone Crandall (played by Chris Hemsworth) who just can’t not show his penis, wrapped and unwrapped, in this film.
You will love the part where a seriously aged Chevy Chase, Clark Griswold, gives his son, Rusty a badly needed boost, when he replaces the car that Rusty loses in the desert. You’ll know what I mean when you see it – a la The Crying Game and Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights.
Vacation marks the sixth installment of the National Lampoon’s Vacation film series, and the first full-length picture in 18 years. There was National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Christmas Vacation, Las Vegas Vacation, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2. Everyone of them was phenomenal.
Written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein (Horrible Bosses).
Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold
Christina Applegate as Debbie Griswold
Skyler Gisondo as James Griswold
Steele Stebbins as Kevin Griswold
Chris Hemsworth as Stone Crandall
Leslie Mann as Audrey Griswold Crandall
Chevy Chase as grandpa Clark Griswold
Beverly D’Angelo as Grandma Ellen Griswold
Charlie Day as River-rafting guide
Regina Hall as Nancy Peterson
Keegan-Michael Key as the Griswold’s friend
I give it Five F-ing Stars