Let’s talk about one of the best movie screenwriters of all time: John Hughes. In the 80’s, he was the voice of a generation. He wrote and directed: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and many other classic comedies. He is the only writer I can think of who constantly took the clichéd Highschool setting and continually incorporated it into funny, interesting, and unique stories. The third film he wrote (also the one that made him popular): Vacation (1983), is one of the best comedies I have ever seen. Hughes’ funny and creative characters (and priceless jokes that never get old) are what made Vacation and other works of his, delightful, and memorable. It is very unlikely that anyone could replicate the genius of Hughes’ writing, but Hollywood studios aren’t known for listening to logic.
Vacation (2015) is directed and written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein. Stars-Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, and Chris Hemsworth. Premise-A grown-up Russ Griswold from the original Vacation films, takes his family on a road trip to the iconic theme park: Walley World.
This movie is kind of a remake, and kind of a sequel. It feels and presents itself like a remake, but all they did to make it seem like a sequel was making Russ the father and having his family be the focus. Nearly every other aspect of this movie is a complete rip-off of the original. From the story, to the iconic scenes, and to the jokes. What’s ironic is that there is literally a scene where the characters metaphorically state, “The old vacation doesn’t matter because the new vacation will stand on its own.” Meaning the remake (that’s what I’m calling it) will somehow be able to be its own movie. The problem with stating that, is that this is a sequel (based off what I said above), so, no. It doesn’t have its own legs to stand on; it has to continue the story (twice the irony I guess). The movie itself doesn’t know if it is a remake or a sequel! Sorry if this is confusing you, but the movie gave me very little to work with.
Alright, so this movie is a comedy, so does it succeed in its ONE job (making you laugh constantly)? Nope. The jokes in this movie are Grown Ups 2 levels of lazy, disgusting, and egregious all at the same time. Unlike classic John Hughes, the jokes in this movie are never endearing, funny, creative, or quotable. Instead the writers appealed to the Michael Bay/Adam Sandler audience and wrote the most infantile, predictable, unfunny, and disgusting jokes they could think of. You know: constant cursing, toilet humor, dirty jokes, and cheap eye candy. I’d give some examples, but I want this review to be less than three pages long. Speaking of butchering classic Hughes, are there any well-acted, witty, and memorable characters? Yeah no, this movie kinda fails at everything. Helms plays the clichéd idiot father, Applegate plays a completely forgettable wife character, and while the older brother could have been better had they picked a more capable actor (like Logan Lerman instead of Skyler Gisondo) and the younger brother, well….. do you remember the complete jerk main character from The Nut Job (if you don’t, I envy you)? Let me say this, younger brother is the most unlikeable character I have ever seen. I’m not joking guys! Throughout watching this movie, I wanted to put his despicably abhorrent butt in the Reverse Bear Trap from Saw! As for all the side characters, they are also pretty forgettable. This movie has a slew of cameos. None of which are funny. Keegan-Michael Key, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Charlie Day, Regina Hall, and Michael Peña’s talents are wasted in this movie. That’s right, this movie found a way to make Keegan-Michael Key not funny. Movie, YOU FAIL! The last thing I want to mention would be the lovely stereotypes this movie constantly makes. Truck drivers, Hispanics, country folks, sorority girls, Koreans, senior citizens no one is safe from this movie! These stereotypes range from mild, to “Holy crap, Warner Bros. is going to be cyber-attacked harder than Sony!”
Was there anything redeeming about this movie? No. I giggled once or twice every 25 minutes, but that doesn’t help with anything. The jokes are juvenile and unfunny, the characters are atrocious and forgettable, and the story is literally the original Vacation all over again. The nail in the coffin would be sucking the talent out of some very talented actors and a brilliant writer’s charming, heartfelt, and above all, hilarious story make this a film I beg you not to see. This could very well be the worst remake/sequel I have ever seen. Conan the Barbarian (2011), Grown Ups 2, Total Recall (2012), Batman Forever, Halloween (2007), Alien: Resurrection, Poltergeist (2015), don’t even come close to how awful Vacation (2015) is. I will have to think on whether or not this is THE worst. Crap like Annie (2014) and Batman and Robin make it a difficult choice, but for now, Vacation (2015) deserves Guy’s Guru Grade of an F.