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Movie Review: #Vacation

Vacation makes me want to take a STAY-cation.

Review by Matt Cummings

It's not too often that a movie makes me wish film never existed, yet her I am ready to give the newest Vacation all the hate it deserves. And hate on it I will.

Grown-up Rusty (Ed Helms) is stuck in a dull marriage to Debbie (Christina Applegate), who's been forced year after year to spend vacation with her family at a cabin in Michigan. When the overly optimistic Rusty realizes his family needs a change, he packs them up for a trip to Walley World, the site of his greatest trip as a teen. But soon, his family begins to encounter difficulties and flat-out disasters that could end their road trip and return Rusty's marriage back to square one.

It might surprise our readers to know that someone from our team actually considered walking out of Vacation, and we get to see these films for free. That's how bad our experience became as we sat mesmerized by its 99 minutes of ineptitude, feeling more like 199 minutes had passed. All the blame gets squarely put on the shoulders of Co-Writers/Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Theirs is a disaster that begins soon after the promising opening credits roll and hardly ever picks up its head from the morass of a feces bath that the Griswolds actually endure. Seriously, the family bathes in a toxic waste dump filled with human feces and rub it on their faces...and that's supposed to be funny.

More importantly, Daley and Goldstein commit a critical error in Vacation: they fail to make any of it funny. Instead, they settle on 12-year-old humor that no child will be allowed to see, thanks to its deserved R rating. They squander every asset, including the usually terrific Leslie Mann, who plays Rusty's sister and Chris Hemsworth who plays her husband, both of whom are reduced to glorified cameos. Daley and Goldstein take every low road they can, and punish the audience with pacing that's as slow as the Ukranian car the Griswolds rent for the week. I can't imagine any parent having to deal with the likes of the Griswold's youngest child Kevin (Steele Stebbins), but I'd have to think giving him up for adoption might be the only answer. He's a thoroughly unlikable character, bent on torturing his old brother James (Skyler Gisondo) who can barely defend himself. After a short time, you'll want to climb through the screen and give Kevin an honest beating.

These are the kind of negative feelings you'll get while watching Vacation, and it's not a healthy thing. Granted, every year has its duds, its disappointments; Vacation is all of those, dumped in a poop bag and set afire outside your front door. This is not the world of the Griswolds whose antics made them household names and Actor Chevy Chase a marketable dufus. Helms is clearly not that, and he enjoys zero chemistry with the mostly-flat Applegate; but it's possible that they could have made it work if the script had not felt so undercooked and entirely inappropriate. Chief among these atrocities is a scene in which Rusty is almost seducing James in front of a girl. And that's supposed to be funny

I was asked if I would rescind my thoughts about he Adam Sandler comedy Pixels and encourage people to see it over Vacation. That would be like asking me if I chose death in a helicopter blade mishap or death by lion. Either sucks and you can't make me choose.

Vacation will make you angry that you wasted your evening and any hope that it would somehow recapture the spirit of those 80's classics. None of that is here to be found, replaced with forced comedy, tons of missed opportunities, and a general sense that Daley and Goldstein had no clue how to make this funny. And they're in charge of resurrecting Spider-man for Sony/Marvel. It's clear the worst comedy of the year and one of the worst movies in general; think twice before you waste money on this disaster of a picture.

Vacation is rated R for for crude and sexual content and language throughout, and brief graphic nudity and has a runtime of 99 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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