Movies should always be careful with a tagline of “What Could Go Wrong?” In the case of this remake of the 1983 classic comedy, National Lampoon’s Vacation almost nothing goes right. Well, Chevy Chase briefly shows up, and few songs are as catchy as Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” So that’s two things that go right. Nothing else does in the feature-directing debut of writing duo John Francis Daley (Sam Weir from “Freaks and Geeks”) and Jonathan M. Goldstein. (How this Vacation remake earned the two the job rebooting Spider-Man remains a mystery? Sony must not have seen Vacation when they made the decision.)
Rather ingeniously conceived, the new Vacation features a grown Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms, a likable comic actor who can do nothing with this dunderheadedly clue- and boundary-less father figure) wishes to redo his family’s seminal cross-country trek to Walley World with his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and two sons, Kevin and James (I’m not sure if their combined names is coincidence or poorly conceived joke).
Not a single funny person—not Helms, Applegate, Leslie Mann, Chris Hemsworth, Keegan-Michael Key, Charlie Day, the list goes on—can do anything with Daley and Goldstein’s script. It’s mean-spirited and virtually laughless. Chase earns the movie’s only solid laughs by simply being himself. I’d rather go back to Europe or, gulp, Vegas than take another trip to Walley World with these Griswolds.
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