Vacation – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

vacationVacation – 2.5/5 – Critiquing a comedic film is one of the hardest things to do (which I have said many times).  Film is a subjective medium; there isn’t a true manner to grade it by.  Going into this film, there was one thing that I always kept in mind.  Being a comedy, there are things that will make me laugh and others that won’t; which is the basis of any comedy.  Vacation (for some of the parts) made me laugh quite a few times.  On the other hand, those few times couldn’t hide the fact that this film is redundant, generic and trapped in a whirlwind of an ‘identity crisis’.  In the end, there are still enough laughs to be found in this sequel/reboot of an old franchisee.

Premise: Trying to captures feelings of old, Rusty Griswold takes his family on a road trip to Walley World.  Along the way, hilarity ensues, while the family finds something common in each of them.

There are many actors/actress in this film.  If you want to see a list, you can reference the IMDB page.  In short, most of the acting in this film falls into the general archetypes of a crude comedy.  The acting gets drowned with its one-dimensional caricatures; a cause of the repetitive dialogue, predictable situations and overall stale comedic situations they are brought to enact.   Even with this, there are some bright moments with the characters: The lead actor (Ed Helms) and a couple of cameo appearances (Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day).  Within this trio, there comedic timing creates some of the best ‘laugh out loud’ moments in the film.  With Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold, he carries the bulk of the film through its highs and lows; creating an awkward but believable man trying to deliver some fun on this ‘vacation’ with his family.   With the cameos mentioned, they brighten up the screen with their unique and captivating charm.  They build upon the ‘caricatures’ of their roles and create something that is standout from the standard aura of the other supporting characters.

The direction follows the typical ‘family vacation’ styled theme.  We have the introduction to the main player(s) (Griswold family).  From here, we watch as through ‘convenient’ plot devices they set on an adventure of sorts to reach some ‘spectacular’ destination (Walley World).  Along the way, the film puts the main player(s) against awkward and/or hilarious situations to give color to the linearity progression.  There isn’t much else to explain about the plot, premise or any bulk of the story.  The film falls into the trap of generalities, which is filled with a lot of running gags, predictable crude humor and absurd characters doing ridiculous things.  A strength in most Rated R films, but it becomes a glaring weakness for this one.  The weaknesses come from the lack of real characters to either gravitate to or actually care about.  Even if there isn’t deep characterization, there should be sense of ‘believability’ created so we can actually find their ‘one-liners’ or ‘odd’ behaviors funny.  It doesn’t work for a lot of the comedy in this film.  As much as there is this hurts most of the experience (and one particular gross out scenarios that do more to disgust then to thrill); there are some few but strong moments that are genuinely funny.  When these happen, this usually involves the main lead and/or the two mentioned cameos.  We get to see the finer side of the crudeness of this film at its best.  This helps keep the film slightly entertaining.  If it wasn’t for these few scenes, the glaring weaknesses combined with the other shortfalls in the film (simple characters, obvious plot holes and unbelievable situations) would have dragged it further to the ground.  For that, there is some worth in the comedy.  The one big weakness of the film (that the comedy can’t hide), is the film’s identity.  Being a sequel/reboot of a familiar franchise, this film tries too hard to pay homage to the past, but also tries to stand out with its own ‘brand’ of comedy.  Throughout the whole film, the direction never tries to settle on one idea.  Whenever you have a film in a franchise, you either stay ‘true’ to its root or you give a reimaging of sorts (21 Jump Street).  It plays it too safe, which staggers the pace while creating a lot of the fragment in the humor, characters and story.  Once you reach the climax, it plays right into the hands of the predictable nature of ‘comical’ hijinx and ‘franchise’ homage. This creates a whirlwind of something familiar, a sense of completion and relief that this rough ride of the film has ended.

The visuals are simple at best, but doesn’t add no real value to the film.  Score helps at parts, but the music is just a throwaway part of the film.

Vacation is that comedy that has a lot of redundancy, an identity crisis and incoherent crude humor; but also does have quite a few memorable/laugh out loud moments.  In the end, if you’re a fan of the franchise or crude humor, this is one for you.  I’d say leave this film as a rental, but can also catch it at the theaters if you want.

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