Starring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Leslie Mann, Chris Hemsworth, Beverly D'Angelo, Ron Livingston, and Chevy Chase
Directed by Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley
***This film is currently available on HBO Now***
Teenage Rusty Griswold is now all grown up (and played by Ed Helms) living with a family of his own in the Midwest. Rather than head to their typical cabin in Michigan for a summer vacation, Rusty decides to shake things up by taking his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two kids James and Kevin (Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins) to the California amusement park staple Wally World -- the very destination coveted by Rusty's father Clark (Chevy Chase) in the 1983 original. Along the way, chaos ensues -- multiple times -- as seems fitting for the Griswold clan.
I understand that many of the comedy sequences in Vacation overstay their welcome, but a lot of the jokes within those extended moments land successfully. The success is due in part to the Griswold family quartet at the center of the action. Helms, Applegate, Gisondo, and Stebbins all succeed at capturing the Griswold humor and heart that made the original so successful. They hit the jokes they need to hit with gusto and provide a nice center for the action going on around them.
While writer-director duo Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley don't quite capture the same heart that Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo (who also make cameo appearances here) achieve in the first film, they at least provide Helms and Applegate a solid base. I realize that my enjoyment of this isn't shared by the majority of critics, but even through its faults, Vacation proves to be decent, funny, and well acted.
The RyMickey Rating: B-