Vacation Review

Vacation (2015) movie posterSynopsis
In effort to reconnect with his wife and kids, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) takes his family on a cross-country trip to Walley World like his family did thirty years ago.

Review
One of Hollywood’s go-to moves lately has been revisiting franchises that have been dormant for 20 or 30 years and making sequels or remakes or reboots. Often, these attempts are not received well. Movies like Dumb and Dumber To or Total Recall fail to capture that certain something that made the original films so popular and beloved in the first place, attempting to cash in on nostalgia rather than make a film that is worth its legacy. Vacation, more of a sequel than reboot, falls into this category. And like all the others, it’s a pale comparison to the films that came before it.

I will admit that this film did make me laugh. In the same way the 1983 Vacation was a good fit for Chevy Chase’s style of humor, this Vacation highlights Ed Helms’ comedic talents. The types of jokes and gags it has are a bit juvenile at times and what I call “stupid funny” but honestly, it makes me laugh. If you’ve seen Helms’ films like Cedar Rapids or The Hangover then you’ll have a sense of what to expect from him. The dynamic between the two Griswold kids, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins), was unexpected and created for some humorous moments. Chris Hemsworth continues to prove that he can do comedy as well as he does action. His timing and delivery are spot-on. If the Vacation franchise somehow manages to continue, he should be the Cousin Eddie of the “reboot.”

In movies like this one, there is an extra emphasize on homages that try to cash in on the nostalgia of the franchise. Sometimes the filmmakers go overboard with the callbacks that feels like they are pandering to the audience. Luckily, Vacation doesn’t fall into that trap; it has just the right amount of references to the previous films, particularly the original Vacation, that it doesn’t feel heavy-handed or too much.

I think the what I was most disappointed about was the portrayal of Rusty. I know it’s around thirty years after the original Vacation but this Rusty seems like more of a push-over than what was portrayed in the other films. As much as I like Helms, his personality doesn’t match the Rusty we’ve seen in the four previous films. Maybe it’s just me but that’s how I felt. I think it was less of how Helms portrayed Rusty and more of how the part was written.

Another problem with making a film simply to cash in on nostalgia is that often it lacks the charisma or charm of the first one and Vacation unfortunately does not buck that trend. The characters lack the appeal of Clark and Ellen, and the Griswold kids even less so. The actors also don’t have the same chemistry as the original cast. It’s not like this brand of comedy cannot be full of heart, plenty of other movies have proven that it can happen, but this film is more focused on trying to capture the magic of its inspiration that it forgets what made it memorable in the first place.

I thought Vacation was OK 😐 It’s simply another attempt to ride the nostalgia wave popular in Hollywood right now and it falls way short of capturing the magic of the original Vacation. Maybe this film might have fared better if it wasn’t attached to a franchise like the Vacation franchise. But then again, if it tried that, I imagine it probably would have been compared to the original Vacation and then still would have been looked at in a less than positive light. Moral of the story is let’s stop trying to remake or reboot beloved and popular franchises simply because it can be done. If you want to watch a great film like Vacation, simply watch Vacation.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
John Francis Daley – Director / Writer
Jonathan Goldstein – Director / Writer
Mark Mothersbaugh – Composer

Ed Helms – Rusty Griswold
Christina Applegate – Debbie Griswold
Skyler Gisondo – James Griswold
Steele Stebbins – Kevin Griswold
Leslie Mann – Audrey Crandall
Chris Hemsworth – Stone Crandall
Chevy Chase – Clark Griswold
Beverly D’Angelo – Ellen Griswold
Catherine Missal – Adena
Charlie Day – Chad
Ron Livingston – Ethan
Norman Reedus – Trucker

Hall Pass Review

Hall Pass movie posterSynopsis
Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) receive hall passes from their wives, who are becoming frustrated in their marriages, allowing them to do whatever they want with other women without consequences for a week.

Review
There are times when you watch a movie and really enjoy it, then you don’t watch it for years. Eventually, you come across it again and remember enjoying it all those years ago so you watch it. Except this time, you don’t find it as enjoyable as you did before. That’s Hall Pass for me. When you see Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis at the top of the billing, you know exactly what kind of comedy you’re in for; It’s the kind of comedy that is my bread and butter. However, it doesn’t seem to have aged as well as other similar films I can watch over and over. Wilson and Sudeikis make a great pair and the two of them together is when I laughed the most. The leading ladies, Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate, are excellent as well. Even the supporting cast is fun to watch, especially Rick’s (Wilson) and Fred’s (Sudeikis) group of friends. The chemistry was there, so the cast isn’t the problem. Rather the writing was this films biggest weakness. When a joke or gag was funny, it was hilarious. But not many of them were funny. For a comedy, that’s the exact opposite of what you want.

I thought Hall Pass was OK 😐 When I laughed, I laughed hard. Unfortunately, those laughs felt few and far between. The entire cast was great but the script wasn’t there to support them. I was expecting more from the Farrelly Brothers.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bobby Farrelly – Director / Screenplay
Peter Farrelly – Director / Screenplay
Pete Jones – Story / Screenplay
Kevin Barnett – Screenplay

Owen Wilson – Rick
Jason Sudeikis – Fred
Jenna Fischer – Maggie
Christina Applegate – Grace
Nicky Whelan – Leigh
Derek Waters – Brent
Stephen Merchant – Gary
Larry Joe Campbell – Hog-Head
JB Smoove – Flats
Joy Behr – Dr. Lucy
Bruce Thomas – Rick Coleman
Tyler Hoechlin – Gerry
Richard Jenkins – Coakley
Alexandra Daddario – Paige
Kristin Carey – Aunt Meg

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Trailer #2

Official Synopsis: With the 70’s behind him, San Diego’s top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Also back for more are Ron’s co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) – All of whom won’t make it easy to stay classy…while taking the nation’s first 24-hour news channel by storm.

I feel the first Anchorman is a little overrated, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  This second trailer shows more of the gang after they arrive at GNN, but not much more about the story we haven’t already seen in the first trailer.  The sequel looks like it will rely on several of the same jokes as the first, but as long as it adds some new fresh gags into the mix, it should be alright.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will be in theaters December 20, 2013.