Sequels to certain franchises are inevitable. It's the truth. No matter where we go, how well we hide or how far we run, a sequel is always going to be one step behind us, waiting to pounce on us and ruin fond memories we have of that franchise. Name one decades old franchise that took a break from making films for a long, long time, only to have a new sequel released some time in the last three years that was actually good. There's tonnes of franchises to choose from. Can you pick one? No, James Bond doesn't count. No, Star Wars doesn't, either. Nope, can't choose 21 Jump Street. That was a TV show. Exactly. You can't choose a good one. This new Vacation movie is here to keep this trend up.
This new Vacation movie, now the 5th film in this sort-of beloved franchise, when really everybody only remembers two of the films, tells the story of Rusty Griswold (Ed Helmes). The son of our previous protagonist, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), now has a wife (Christine Applegate) and a family of his own. The problem is that they're not really getting along as well as he hoped. The sons are constantly fighting and he and Debbie, his wife, are starting to do the same old thing time and time again. Hoping to bond, and much to the reluctance of the rest of his family, Rusty has the idea to recreate his family holiday from when he was a child and for them to go and visit Wally World. And then literally the exact same plot as the first film occurs, but look guys, the filmmakers know that so it's self aware, right? Right?!?!
First thing's first. Pointing out that you're literally copying another movie does not make your film a self aware, comedy jackpot, much like last year's 22 Jump Street was. That film worked so well at being self aware that it's actually become a trend nowadays for sequels, especially those that fall into the genre of comedy, to be self aware. Some cases are forgivable, Horrible Bosses 2 merely makes me roll my eyes and I forget about it, but Vacation is not. If you've seen the first film, you've seen this one. There's literally one scene in this entire movie where they address the fact that this is a reboot and that it's okay that they're copying the original film. It's not okay. It's the opposite of okay. You're not being a smart, self aware comedy, you're being lazy and digging real deep to find an excuse for being ever so lazy.
The thing is, I don't feel like this film was originally written to be self aware. Like I said, there's literally only one scene in the entire movie where they do a little wink towards the audience and say "hey, look at us. We're making fun of reboots and remakes." They're not making fun of them at all. 22 Jump Street made fun of sequels. This is the thing that they were making fun of. This new Vacation follows the original film plot beat by plot beat, even taking the time to steal a joke or two or seven. Remember that scene in the original where Chevy Chase is waving to an attractive woman in the car next to his? HAHAHAHA WE STOLE IT, BUT ADDED MORE DESTRUCTION!!! Remember when the Griswold's car breaks in the middle of nowhere? HAHAHAHA WE STOLE IT, BUT ADDED MORE DESTRUCTION!!! Remember when... okay, you get the point.
The jokes are undeniably a hit and miss, but the ones that hit are actually pretty damn funny. Vacation isn't an awful movie, it's merely a mediocre one, although it could've been a lot better. In fact, one way to drastically improve it would be to not have it exist at all, but let's not go there. Not yet. But like I was saying, the jokes that hit are so painstakingly dumb that you can't help but laugh at them. It's got a Dumb and Dumber meets Anchorman vibe to it. It's not the same vibe as the original films, but it can occasionally work in this film's favour. The presence of Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day, while both very brief, certainly made up for the several lifeless scenes that came before them.
Vacation's opening credits run over a series of catastrophic photos from different vacations. Not different Vacation movies, but literally random vacations random people around the world took. The sad part about it is that it's probably the funniest part of this movie, and when the funniest part of your movie isn't even an actual part of your movie, you should probably start to reconsider this movie's existence. For every joke that hit, three cringe worthy jokes followed. This new Vacation movie is painfully uneven. You should just spend your money on seeing Inside Out for the seventeenth time. Or save your money for more visits to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
To sum up, Vacation is another one of those sequels. It attempts to be self aware, but the result is uneven and unfunny, the only jokes that really do hit providing nothing more than a couple of chuckles. They're pretty funny, but they just don't come all that often.