Not the same ‘Vacation’

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Is America ready for another Griswold adventure? Does America even remember who the Griswolds are? Let’s take a look at five questions for Hollywood’s latest reboot, “Vacation.”

What’s it about?

It’s been 18 years since the last Griswold family vacation (“Vegas Vacation”) and now it’s time for a grownup Rusty (Ed Helms) to follow in his dad’s footsteps. In an effort to bring his family closer together and relive his childhood experience, he persuades his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and their two sons to pack up the car and go on a road trip to Walley World.

Another reboot?

Yes, and yet another one that doesn’t do right by the original. For all the cluelessness exhibited by the original family of Clark, Ellen, Rusty and Audrey, there was never any doubt that despite their bickering and dysfunction, they loved each other unconditionally. In this version, Rusty is more or less an idiot but can’t pull off the act like Chevy Chase could. Debbie is a former slut and the younger son bullies the older son nonstop for no reason except to have a young kid say swear words.

“Vacation” succumbs to contemporary ideas of comedy: bathroom humor, sexual jokes and violence. Gags with pubic hair, puke and human feces can be effective in other films (or can they?) but are cheap and lowbrow. They don’t belong in a film about the Griswolds.

I grew up with a dad like Clark Griswold who’d do anything to make his family happy, so the original “Vacation” films hit home for me. I was that bratty son, much like Rusty, who complained aloud about having to spend so much time with his parents but in the end cherished many moments we shared. This latest trip lacks the innocence and heart that made the original films so personally memorable.

vacation1Is it funny?

While this “Vacation” lacks the special qualities of the previous films, it does induce some laughs among its misses. There are tons of jokes and the hit rate is about 50 percent. Helms especially gives it his all and Applegate is a trooper as always. Guest star Chris Hemsworth is also surprisingly funny as the brother-in-law who loves to show off Thor’s hammer, if you know what I mean. But again, the humor is cheap and you almost feel embarrassed for laughing when you do.

Would you watch these Griswolds go on another vacation?

Of course. I love the “family vacation from hell” concept of the films and would love to watch this group on another adventure. It would be even cooler if they kept recasting the children as the previous films did. Just make sure to get the tone right next time.

vacation2How would you rank the “Vacation” films?

1) “Vegas Vacation” – I love Vegas and I especially loved Rusty’s alter ego Nick Pappagiorgio. I still throw that name around to this day.

2) “Vacation” (1983) – The one that started it all.

3) “European Vacation” – I still say “Big Ben, Parliament” whenever driving in a circle.

4) “Vacation” (2015) – Lacks the heart, but still has laughs.

5) “Christmas Vacation” – Probably the most played on TV but my least favorite.