Vacation Blu-ray Review
In 1985, the Griswolds loaded into the family station wagon and headed for Walley World. Now, nearly thirty years ago, the sole son, Rusty, has decided to take his own clan on the same journey—because Europe is too expensive and Las Vegas now has Britney Spears.
Wanting to make his family happy and more connected—and apparently missing the days when the old man held a security guard at gunpoint so he could ride a rollercoaster—Rusty (Ed Helms, taking over a role played by Anthony Michael Hall, Jason Lively, Johnny Galecki and Ethan Embry) decides it’s time that the Griswolds skip their yearly trip to Cheboygan and head to “American’s Favorite Family Fun Park.”
And so Rusty packs his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate, ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES), and their two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins, A HAUNTED HOUSE 2), into the new wheels and heads west…where Rusty, like his father and mother before him (Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, who turn up for cameos to reprise the roles of Clark and Ellen for the fifth time—not including Old Navy commercials), encounters his own series of misfortunes. The question for fans of the series will be, If general plotline matches the original, does the quality of the jokes?
The Harold Ramis original was certainly host to some non-PC humor (the scenes involving Aunt Edna, whose corpse was tied to the roof of the car and later left on a porch in the rain, come to mind), but Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley’s latest installment is genuinely immature about it all. So many of the gags are so cheap—is an adolescent hurling curses really that funny? are there chuckles to be found in people swimming in raw sewage?—that certain viewers might find themselves begging to see what Nick Papagiorgio is up to.
That’s not to say that fans of the first entry will constantly be checking their watches. There are some callbacks, like Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road” over the opening credits, Rusty reflecting on his younger years as Hall, Galecki, etc. and a rather violent take on Christie Brinkley’s appearances, that are both welcome and, at times, amusing. Take this clever meta exchange between son and father: “I’ve never even heard of the original vacation.” “Doesn’t matter. The new vacation will stand on its own.”
The bulk of the credit for any of the funnier bits goes primarily to Goldstein and Daley, who also wrote the screenplay, which they consciously decided to use to take the series back to its R-rated roots, skipping the PG-13 safety zone so there could be another appeal to the older crowd (and perhaps themselves). It’s just too bad that, for the most part, the writing sessions resulted in lazy, predictable and borderline braindead punchlines, many of which are worse than an unidentified lip fungus.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The video offers a crisp, clear image without any significant disturbances.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The audio offers clean dialogue and soundtrack, with “Kiss from a Rose” noticeable standing out.
Return to Walley World (9:54): The cast and crew discuss being part of the VACATION legacy, the contributions of Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo and more.
The Griswold Odyssey (18:23): This featurette looks at the shooting of various scenes from the movie as well as the Griswold clan’s primary vehicle (Tartan Prancer).
Deleted Scenes (12:13): This collection, which offers more chaos with the Griswolds, can only be viewed as a whole.
Gag Reel (1:32)
Georgia (2:02) pays tribute to the state where VACATION was shot.