Time Out says
This road-trip reboot crashes and burns.
A rare reboot so foul and humorless it makes you question whatever attachment you might have to the original, this lazy retread of Harold Ramis’s 1983 Vacation sours everything that’s made that film such an undying fixture of basic cable. Splitting the difference between a sequel and a remake, this Vacation introduces the next generation of the hapless Griswold family by regurgitating the plot beats of the franchise’s first adventure. Rusty (Helms, toxic), recognizing that his clan is in a rut, decides to do the same thing his dad Clark (Chase, awake) did when he was in this situation: cram his wife (Applegate, way too good for this) and kids into a 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, yet 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 Goldstein, Vacation evinces an overt appreciation for the original—the film treats Clark’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster with hilarious reverence, like it’s a valuable part of film history—but precious little understanding of why it worked. Whereas John Hughes’s 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, with Rusty'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 (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. Prepare yourself to know just how they feel.
Follow David Ehrlich on Twitter: @davidehrlich
Cast and crew