No Vacation from the National Lampoon-style humor



If you lived through the 1980s, you know it.

If you sat through the 2000s, you know it.

That wink-wink through lasviousness and lewdness paired with physical awkwardnes that made the National Lampoon’s … movies featuring Chevy Chase as patriarch Clark Griswold so darn popular in that first decade.

That silly-man, try-too-hard demeanor that made Ed Helms’ Andy a fixture to stare at during this century’s TV sitcom dominatiojn by The Office.

Put Helms in the role of Rusty Griswold all grown up with two sons of his own in the comedy Vacation with Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprising their roles as his mother and father toward the end, yet, and you’ve got … exactly what you’d expect.

Only even a little more lewd, more smutty and more awkward, if you could even imagine that.

Little Rusty — you may remember him played by Anthony Michael Hall in the original Vacation — has grown up (possibly, aged, anyhow) to become a pilot for a regional airline based in Chicago. In this story written by Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Dailey and directed by Dailey, we find him trying to please his stagnated marriage to wife pretty wife Debbie (who grew up to this from a smartass kid in her own right from TV’s Married with Children, don’t forget) by planning a cross-country family drive in a little unheard-of model foreign car to that familiar-from-the-first-film big daddy of amusement parks, WalleyWorld.

Along the way, youngest son Kevin thrills in bullying older brother James. Steele Stebbins and Skyler Gisondo are both hateable and likeable as the two suffering young Griswolds. The car is as misfit as Clark’s logic, and stops in Little Rock for a dip in a hot spring and Texas for a visit to little sister Audrey (hilarious Leslie Mann) and her studly weather man/rancher husband Storm (Chris Hemsworth) go horribly and terribly wrong.

The film is rated R, justifiably so with raw sex talk and sight gags and bloody stuff with a bull, but still in the almost full Saturday matinee Regal Cinemas showing in the Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Detiny USA, I spotted young teens in the crowd with their parents and wondered about that.

And I did laugh, for sure a tad uncomfortably sometimes and even with some disbelief. But yes, other times the sound rose from me because what I was seeing up there was just plain funny.

This generation’s Vacation won’t be winning any awards for its intellect. But if you know what to expect and still line up for the trip, have fun.

Were you a fan of the first batch of Chevy Chase National Lampoon movies, and why or why not? Are you a fan of Ed Helms, and why or why not? Are you ready to see Rusty and Clark Griswold again in this generation, and why or why not?

45 thoughts on “No Vacation from the National Lampoon-style humor

  1. I loved Chevy Chase which is why I don’t care to see this one… you can’t mess with perfection. ๐Ÿ™‚ In the words of the great one himself… “Hello. I’m Chevy Chase…. and you’re not!”


  2. My husband loves National Lampoon Vacation films. I tolerate them. They make me incredibly uncomfortable and queasy – especially Randy Quaid’s character (who completely disgusts me). Oh and lucky me – somehow it is a tradition at our house to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – every single year. If this keeps up I may threaten to make them all eat Christmas pudding that has been fermenting a year under muslin in the closet (oh yeah and with lumpy custard on top). If they want tradition I can institute weird English traditions – that should put a stop to all of this. Why didn’t I ever come up with this before. Thanks Mark for giving me this idea. This is great!!!!


  3. The Wally World vacation movie and the Christmas version were two of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen… I wouldn’t want to spoil them by seeing the newest version. Those were Chevy’s films at his prime and I want to keep those memories intact!


    • I understand, Ros. Just to make things clear, this is in no way a remake. It’s his son taking his family to Walley World … new characters, new goof-ups, Chevy and Bev in it reprising their roles as grandparents … Anyway.


  4. I loved the first one….don’t remember if I saw the follow ups. Like Marissa, I won’t be going to see it and sure won’t have the kids around if it shows up on tv. I’d watch it at home while on the treadmill if it makes me laugh though.


  5. Hi Mark!
    Thank you for the review! I have been wondering how the new holds up to the old. My fav is “Christmas Vacation,” but it’s hard to dispute the classic first movie in this franchise. Sometimes, life calls for a little mindless and inappropriate humor. Sounds like this has both!
    Hope you and Karen are having a great summer!


  6. P.S. Mark, my favorite Chevy Chase movie is with Goldie Hawn as divorced couple who still are attracted to each other. Hmmm…. “Foul Play.” That was a funny movie. I always have liked Chevy Chase and you know his wife in the vacation movies, Beverly D’Angelo, is from Ohio!


  7. I am one who doesn’t mind bawdy or raunchy. Mark, I am not even sure why I got so upset over the movie, “Neighbors,” but this is the only movie i didn’t like that was supposed to be funny. I even lked the first “Ted” for some reason. It helps to see good comedies, like “Spy,” “Saint Vincent” and “Train Wreck” which all had their R rating humor. I am open for Vacation since I do like Christina Applegate who made the movie, “My Babysitter is Dead” or something like this “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead?” I also liked her in a sweet sit-com as a single Mom in “Jesse.”
    I like the main male character but was wondering was he also in “Hangover” movies? If so, he was funny in those! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Yes, Ed Helms was in the ‘Hangover’ series, too, Robin, a franchise I really did not think much of at all. But I liked him in ‘The Office.’ Also, I know your tolerance for the bawdy is high. That’s cool. I am not totally offended by all of it, but I feel it is my duty as a reviewer to point it out for those that are really put off by any and all off-color material.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I guess your review is about what I would expect. If someone put the movie in front of me, I’d watch it. Don’t think I’d be paying good money to see it. Uncomfortably raunchy remakes just aren’t my thing.


  9. As a child of the 80s, I know the Vacation movies well, and I get them even more now that I live close where John Hughes grew up. (I am minutes away from Kraft foods, and with Clark working in food preservatives…) I think some things need to stay in my past, and those movies are one of them. I feel no need to see any reboots or reincarnations.

    I am glad you had a matinee of chuckles, Mark.


  10. I loved the original Vacation and also Christmas Vacation (which still happens to be one of my favourite Christmas movies). I didn’t even know they were doing an updated version! I would watch it, but with fairly low expectations, although having now read your review of it, my expectations have risen a little…bearing in mind that I didn’t know it existed until I started reading your review…oh dear…this is all getting a bit meta…


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