‘Vacation’ a disaster from beginning to end

By Bob Bloom
I will freely admit that “Vacation” is filled with laughs. But they are so crude and sophomoric, that, after a while, they become repetitive and tiresome.
Really, how many penis jokes does it take to make you overdose? How often do you need to hear a little brother hurl “f”-bombs at his big brother before it becomes tedious instead of funny?
That’s the problem with “Vacation”: it’s unrestrained and too over the top, as if its creators needed to prove that it could be the most lowbrow comedy ever produced.
The laughs in “Vacation” are obvious and cheap; the film is a lazy comedy, with the writers going for the lowest common denominator to elicit guffaws and giggles from an audience that laps them up as if they had just been liberated after being forced to view marathon performances of Shakespearean tragedies.
The best way to describe “Vacation” is classless; it condescends to its audience as if they were unsophisticated yokels (which many of them were by the way most carried on during the screening).
The film is a dud simply because it is about a family on vacation, but it is not _DSC9934.DNGgeared for families. Toning it down some to get a PG-13 rating, at least, would have probably gained the film a more widespread audience.
Instead, the juvenile jokes and antics that proliferate this R-rated mess is geared for a strictly adult audience — adult being a relative term for anyone who would deign to see this fatuous reboot of a popular comedic franchise of the 1980s.
Ed Helms, who was wonderful in “Cedar Rapids” and added some fine comic moments in “The Hangover” trilogy, works hard as Rusty Griswold, but we already have seen Helms play so many times the same uncool guy trying to be cool that it fails to gel.
Christina Applegate, as Rusty’s wife, Debbie, has some fine moments, especially in the sequence where she visits her old college.
Steele Stebbins as Kevin, the younger Griswold son, is supposed to be precocious. Instead, he’s a foul-mouthed, obnoxious brat whom I felt like spanking within five minutes of his first screen appearance.
Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo make cameo appearances as a way to rekindle memories of the original films. It flops, since Chase looks old, worn and sluggish. It actually makes you feel sad, rather than spark any fondness or joy.
Chris Hemsworth is a good sport in a stereotyped role that does nothing to enhance his resume. And the wonderfully funny Leslie Mann is wasted as his wife, Audrey, Rusty’s sister.
“Vacation” is a devastating misfire that plays like a series of quickly jotted down sketches cobbled together in a vain attempt to make a coherent whole.
The film is infantile, crass and unpolished. Sure, it will make you laugh, but so will a monkey throwing its feces in someone’s face.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

1 star out of 4
(R), language, comic violence, sexual content, nudity