Vacation came highly recommended from a friend of mine who has a good taste in cinema. It stars Ed Helms, the guy who played the hilarious Stu in the Hangover films. This is a film about a dysfunctional family going on a trip and then finding their footing. I know! I know! I lost you right there because you people have seen probably a million films of this type and are almost over with the type but trust me when I say this, Vacation works for the majority of its runtime. It works because the proceedings remain chirpy and brief, the comedy is situational and works and above all because of the way Helms carries the film on his shoulder. The matter is also helped by some nicely infused human drama which becomes effective primarily because we are able to connect with the characters.
Rusty’s family is falling apart because of the monotony that has crept into their lives. The worst hit is his wife Debbie who used to be a live-wire during her college days. His two sons hate each other for what they are and the whole family is tired of the cabin that they visit every year as its Rusty’s favorite hangout spot. Rusty decides to break the monotony and decides to go on a trip to the Walley World which houses the most ferocious new roller-coaster of the country known as the “Velociraptor”. However none of the family members are too excited about the trip. As they start off, they start falling in one frying pan after another which, to start with, breaks them further apart from each other but then proves to be just the clay they needed to stick back together as a family.
The film has its moments and the fact that it has a short runtime and breezy screenplay doesn’t make it heavy on your senses. The comedy is very situational. Ed Helms has forged a brand of exclusive humor for himself and is in his element here. He gets able company from Christina Applegate who plays his wife who also happens to be an important character. The scenes involving Christina’s past, particularly her college days where she was famous as Debbie “Do Anything” are hilarious. The discussion between her and Helms post the discovery of her past is no less funny.
The film has a cameo from Chris Hemsworth who plays a very physical cowboy who is Rusty’s sister’s husband. He leaves no corners to hit on Debbie at the slightest behest and Rusty constantly keeps feeling letdown by his sudden progressions and his wife’s inability to be impervious to his advancements. This leads to some serious comic situations. The best of all being the scene where he walks into their room wearing only a brief with his assets nearly dangling out and after drawing a lot of attention to it just walks out. Rusty believes that he came in to show his six packs while his wife has an epic expression on her face making it clear that she was looking elsewhere.
The kids played by Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins are superb. They share an interesting chemistry of their own which makes up for some interesting situations. The fact that the whole trip is a disaster from start to finish and there isn’t a single moment of victory for the Griswold is a departure from some of the previous fares of the type wherein the families’ atleast have a moment or two where they come into their own. Here that moment may be sighted as the fight that they break into at Walley World but that too ends in a disaster for them.
Vacation can be an enjoyable one-time watch if you have less expectations from it. This is the typical Ed Helms sort of comedy which is complete with lots of laughs and some interesting set pieces but it is unable to break out of the limitations of the genre that it belongs to and that’s what brings it down in the end. Still a very enjoyable watch.