The National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise is an uneven one. The original is a quotable classic, as is Christmas Vacation. European Vacation has it’s moments and Vegas Vacation? Well, it is Vegas Vacation.
National Lampoon has been dropped from the title for this updated tale of a Griswold Family Vacation. This time around it focuses on Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) and his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate). Pilot Rusty is inspired to take his wife and two sons on the very same road trip to Wally World as his father took him on. In one of the more clever sequences of the film Rusty and Debbie argue whether a new Vacation is a good idea. The whole discussion is a veiled defense of this fourth sequel. Who remembers the Vacation from thirty years ago? Why take the same trip? How is it any different?
Alas, most of the film is not quite as clever. Don’t get me wrong, I did laugh. But the film just never quite reaches the heights of either the original or Christmas Vacation. It tries, mostly through rude and gross-out humor, but really, the truth is? Chase just brought a level of heart to the character of Clark Griswold that Helms never seems to have here.
Clark’s failures were a byproduct of major devotion to what he believed family should be. His awkwardness was his belief in how he should be as a father and husband. And while Helms’ Rusty pays words to this…it just feels less…real.
The film has a good cast, but the film itself never gels as well as the best of the Vacation films. The writing never gives the cast any real heart to work with.