Vacation did not seem like a vacation to me at all. The writers/directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein must have used some kind of formula in which each joke or episode has to be done at least twice and every so many minutes there will be a joke about sex, bodily functions, or physical or verbal bumbling. At least partly, the formula is based on numerous versions of the original National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), which makes it outdated, but even so, additional sequels are planned. Clearly, many people enjoy this kind of humor, but to do each joke and incident twice and not come up with anything close to creative makes me tired.
Rusty (Helms) is a pilot for a small airline, and the story begins with his older co-pilot thanking him for sticking up for him in keeping his job. Of course, the old man immediately begins showing he is too old by repeating himself three times (funny the first time, but overkill for the second and third) and doing such a bad job piloting when Rusty is away from the cockpit, the plane starts bouncing around throwing Rusty right into the boobs of an attractive passenger (this happens at least three times). And this is only in the first five minutes of the film.
Briefly, Rusty overhears that his wife is tired of going to the same place for vacation year after year, so he plans a trip to a theme park (Walley World) dear to his heart without consulting his family. He rents a foreign car, which he doesn’t know how to operate, and which sets the scene for repeated jokes of the car being out of control and Rusty’s repeated bumbling in trying to operate it. Of course, they have horrendous accidents, but they all come out unscathed. Ah, how funny. They’re going on a 2,000 plus mile journey, so there will be plenty of time for shenanigans, usually with Rusty being the butt of the jokes because of his ineptness.
Aside from simply not being funny, Vacation is obnoxious in giving a high five to a young kid mouthing off, swearing, and being cruel; glorifying/making light of over-drinking; and solving problems by physical violence. The adolescent son who has some appreciation for cultural and educational aspirations and nonviolence is poked fun at; whereas his cheeky younger brother is held up as a model. When his older brother finally takes him down, this is presented as heroic because he did it by (mildly) beating him up.
There is one scene in Vacation that I did find truly funny, despite its slapstick tinges. I won’t give anything away, but it takes place at Four Corners, where four states meet and involves officers from each state quarreling, each trying to maintain his/her control of territory.
Save your money; just rent the original National Lampoon’s Vacation, and you will have seen a better version of this. Go only if bodily functions, stupidity, and sex make you roll over with laughter.
Grade: F By Donna R. Copeland