The rare reboot so foul and humorless it makes you question whatever attachment you might have had to the original, this lazy retread of Harold Ramis’s 1983 'Vacation' sours everything that’s made that film such a favourite. Splitting the difference between a sequel and a remake, this 'Vacation' introduces the next generation of the hapless Griswold family by regurgitating the beats of the franchise’s first adventure, wasting little time getting these new Griswolds on the road.
Rusty (Ed Helms, toxic), recognizing that his clan is in a rut, decides to do the same thing his dad Clark (Chevy Chase, awake) did when he was in this situation: cram his wife and kids into the car for a cross-country road trip to California theme park Walley World. These charmless characters are meant to learn that spending time with each other isn’t so bad, but in fact it’s agony – surviving 100 minutes with them is one of the great cinematic endurance tests of our time.
Written and directed by 'Horrible Bosses' scribes John Francis Daley and Jonathan M Goldstein, 'Vacation' evinces an overt appreciation for the original – the film treats Clark’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster with hilarious reverence, like it’s actually a valuable part of film history – but precious little understanding of why it worked. Whereas John Hughes’s original script touched a nerve because he created a family that seemed like a funhouse mirror of your own, this version is just a witless series of gross-out gags, Clark’s wife projectile vomiting one minute and swimming in raw sewage the next.
Mercifully, there’s also a steady stream of cameos as a reprieve from the insufferable cast (Chris Hemsworth shines as Rusty’s emasculating brother-in-law), but nothing can save this cynical money-grab from its own shamelessness. At one point, the Griswold gang watches in horror as a cow thoughtlessly eats the entrails of another cow. You’ll know just how they feel.