Realizing that his family and his marriage is in a rut, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) decides to take his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and his two sons Jacob and Kevin (Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins) in a strange foreign car on a cross-country trip to “Walley World” following what his father Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) did with him when he was younger hoping to get closer with his wife and to give his family time for some bonding. This trip soon becomes one misadventure for these Griswolds and for anyone who runs into them.
I was pleasantly surprised by how funny this film is since some of the reviews I’ve read have not been to good. Just a warning, this film is not a remake in that it has a new story and the film acknowledges the others and the way it differentiates itself is smart in a meta kind of way. Their vacation will not be like the others because it will stand on its own. Ed Helms is great here as the family’s new patriarch. He is clueless and out of touch at times while desperately trying to hold his marriage and family together and his stubborn optimism is infectious. Christina Applegate was solid and had a few good moments as Debbie and she also had great chemistry with Ed Helms’ Rusty. They both had their fair share of one-liners and exchanges that were both funny and also real. What really impressed me were the actors who played the Griswold children. Their exchanges with one another are some of the funniest things in the film and they both work well alongside the more experienced actors playing their parents. The chemistry the four of them had with one another kept me engaged and entertained. What I thought also worked was the film’s pacing. It kept the story going as they did not stay in the same place for too long and the jokes kept coming and no single joke overstayed its welcome (except for one but that’s still pretty good). I can’t go any longer without mentioning Chris Hemsworth who is unrecognizable as Rusty’s sister Audrey’s (Leslie Mann) husband Stone Crandall. His american accent is remarkable and there is one scene of his in particular that you will not forget. We also get to see Rusty’s parents Clark and Ellen Griswold (Chase and Beverly D’Angelo) who are still funny after all this time and also have some moments of their own. What I didn’t like about the film was that we did not get to spend enough time with either them or Audrey and Stone as each them brought a lot of funny to the film and I just wanted more of that. I found the ending a little disappointing as well but I did enjoy the journey more than the destination. The film has a message about the importance of family and that’s a message I can stand by. Despite that message, this film is not for kids and definitely earns its R rating. Be that as it may, this is a funny, smart, and edgy film that should not be missed. This definitely one of the funniest movies of the year and could be the start of a new franchise but I would be okay if this was it.
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