It is hard to believe it has been 32 years since Chevy Chase took his family on their now infamous “Vacation” and in doing so launched a series that would eventually spawn four movies.
The well-meaning but unlucky Griswold family gave new meaning to family trips and Europe, Christmas, and Las Vegas will never be the same.
In the new version, Rusty (Ed Helms) works away as a pilot for a commuter airline which ensures he is home each evening to see his beloved wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and their sons Kevin and James.
The family tradition has been to go to as cabin for the Memorial Day weekend but after hearing that their neighbors recently went to France and that Debbie yearns for a break from the cabin, Rusty opts to take the family on a road trip to Wally World, where he has fond memories from the trip he took as a child.
The idea of spending a long week in a car does not sit well with his family but they decide to indulge their father and hit the road.
It does not take long for the Griswold legacy to start and after a series of hysterical and outrageous encounters along the way ranging from an ill-fated Sorority reunion, an awkward father and son conversation at a pool, running afoul of a trucker, and some hysterical car problems, and more, the crew make it to Texas to see Rusty’s sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her husband Stone (Chris Hemsworth).
Rusty has always had a distrust of Stone as he flirts with his wife and shows off his toned physique whenever he can, and touts his success to all.
Naturally some more mishaps ensue on this visit and Rusty and his family continue their trip with stops to the Grand Canyon and Four Corners.
There are plenty of other moments but suffice it to say that challenges and mishaps are the Griswold way whenever a trip is involved and Rusty has to seek help from his parents which sets up a great finale as Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo add to the fun.
The film has plenty of nods to moments from the series but is very much its own film and not a reboot. The humor in the film is a bit raw for those used to the recent PG-13 efforts from the series, but I think returning the series to the R-Rated origins of the original film was a good idea as it allows the unexpected and outrageous to happen more often and it does many times during the film.
I went in hoping for an amusing continuation of the series and what I got was a film that had me laughing throughout and had some cringe-worthy moments where my wife alternated between laughing and hiding her eyes from the outrageous antics.
The cast did a great job of carrying on the Vacation tradition while establishing their own characters. They are not retreads of Ellen and Clark, as Rusty and Debbie are very much their own people with everyday concerns.
Here is hoping we see this group down the Holiday Road again in the future.
3.5 stars out of 5.