27 Aug 2015

Vacation - film review

From At The Movies, 7:45 pm on 27 August 2015

Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M Goldstein, starring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate and Chris Hemsworth.

Simon Morris reviews a belated sequel to the 1980s gross-out comedy, National Lampoon's Vacation, featuring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate and star of the first film, Chevy Chase, and wonders if it is merely a cynical redo.

Many years ago, I found myself in New York City, going to the world premiere of the first film by the prestigious humour magazine National Lampoon.  

National Lampoon was then a sort of rock and roll New Yorker, home to writers like P J O’Rourke and John Hughes, to performers like Christopher Guest, Bill Murray and musician Paul Schaffer. And the film was called Animal House.

My disappointment at the low-brow idiocy of Animal House was crushing – but it was just the start. National Lampoon made a string of gross-out comedies throughout the Eighties, and the grossest, and most shameless, were the Vacation films, starring Chevy Chase.

To be fair to the new Vacation, it’s no worse than the original ones, despite what a number of Eighties-generation critics may say. They were all as awful as this, though I wonder if the new generation of teenagers may be initially puzzled at the phenomenon.

Vacation is that thankfully rare thing – an R-rated family movie. 

I don't know what this says about the state of families today, but the good news for cinema proprietors is that there seems to be a market for it. The teenagers sitting around me dutifully giggled at every inappropriate line in the movie, even if most of them weren’t exactly “jokes” in the strictly literal sense of the word.

The biggest laugh in the film comes when the family has a long, luxurious dip in a sewer outlet, which says so much about Vacation on so many levels.

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