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Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley
Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, Beverly D'Angelo, Chevy Chase, Chris Hemsworth
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley

Rusty Griswold takes his own family on a road trip to "Walley World" in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons.

Box Office:
$31 million.
Opening Weekend
$14,681,108 on 3,411 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $44.95
Release Date: 11/3/2015

• “Return to Walley World” Featurette
• “The Griswold Odyssey” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• “Georgia” Featurette
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Vacation [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 9, 2015)

With 2015’s Vacation, we find a film that acts as both sequel and reboot. A teen in the original 1983 film, we meet Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) as a 40-something pilot for a bargain airline.

Rusty is married to Debbie (Christina Applegate) and father to adolescent sons, sensitive James (Skyler Gisondo) and his bullying younger brother Kevin (Steele Stebbins). The family visits a rural cabin every summer, though no one but Rusty enjoys this.

Determined to break out of this rut, Rusty decides to reenact his childhood family trek to Walley World. No one else seems excited about the notion of a long road trip, but Rusty prevails. We follow their adventures and mishaps along the way.

As I noted at the start, Vacation comes with elements of a sequel since it features older versions of characters from the original film. However, it really hews much closer to reboot – or remake, actually, as it does a lot to rehash the vibe of the first film.

Some of this brings us self-conscious references. We get another ridiculous car, another hottie who flirts with the father, and so on. The movie even winks at its status as a remake during a sequence that talks about ways “the new vacation” will differ from the first one.

While Vacation may call the lead character “Rusty”, in truth, he’s a new version of Clark. The Rusty of the 2015 film bears no resemblance to the kid we saw in four earlier tales.

Perhaps we’re supposed to accept this Rusty because he’s older, but that doesn’t fly. No one’s personality changes that much from 15 to 40, especially since the 2015 Rusty seems less intelligent and mature than the teen version.

And that’s a problem, particularly since Vacation turns Rusty/New Clark into a moron. Chevy Chase’s Clark was naďve, obsessive and bumbling, but he wasn’t stupid. Helms’ Rusty seems too dumb to exist as a functioning human being – he propagates so much idiocy here that he becomes borderline unlikable.

This occurs because Vacation sacrifices character integrity and logic for attempted laughs. It throws out all sorts of comedic bits that simply make no sense, such as when James asks Rusty what a “rim job” is. That scene serves as nothing more than the set-up for a tortured subsequent gag, and none of it works, largely because it makes both father and son seem stupid. Rusty’s explanation is predictably asinine, and I can’t help but wonder why James doesn’t just look up “rim job” on the Internet.

Though I know the answer: because if James did that simple/logical act, Vacation wouldn’t have its cheap joke. It doesn’t succeed, and the film comes littered with the carcasses of other poor attempts at humor.

Heck, even non-comedic bits stretch credulity. Would a family really drive thousands of miles for a Memorial Day weekend trip? Vacation uses that holiday as an explanation for the terrible car Rusty rents, as we’re told Memorial Day travel meant he couldn’t get anything better.

But why would the family go on a really long road trip when the kids would still have school in a few days? And why are the script writers too stupid to realize they simply could’ve used the Fourth of July as a more logical time frame? Good questions, but not ones I can answer.

Truthfully, Vacation does occasionally manage some laughs. With pros like Helms, Applegate, Chase and Leslie Mann in tow, at least a smattering of amusing bits become unavoidable.

But we don’t get enough of these funny moments to overcome the rampant idiocy on display. Vacation doesn’t disgrace the franchise – some of the Chase-led sequels were pretty weak – but it does bring us a poor attempt to revive the Griswolds.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Vacation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No concerns cropped up here.

Sharpness was excellent. From start to finish, the flick presented crisp, concise images without any issues connected to softness. Jagged edges and shimmering didn’t occur, and edge enhancement remained absent. Source flaws also failed to present any problems, as the movie offered a clean image.

In terms of colors, the film favored a mild golden tint or some light teal. The hues were solid within the design parameters. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were good, with nice clarity and smoothness. This was a consistently strong image.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed more than satisfactory. It favored the usual “comedy mix” and didn’t present many chances for the soundscape to explode. We did find a few action scenes – most of which took place on the road – but the track usually opted for stereo music and general environmental material. Though these didn’t seem exciting, they opened up the piece in a satisfying manner.

I thought audio quality appeared positive. Speech seemed distinctive and natural, with no rough tones or other issues. Score and songs displayed clear, warm music, and effects functioned well. Those elements were realistic and full throughout the movie. Again, nothing here dazzled, but the mix accentuated the action in a good way.

A handful of extras fill out the package, and we open with Return to Walley World. It goes for nine minutes, 54 seconds and offers comments from writers/actors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, producers Chris Bender and David Dobkin, and actors Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Beverly D’Angelo, Chris Hemsworth, and Chevy Chase. We learn about story/characters, cast and performances, and reflections of the original film. A few decent notes emerge – and we get some good footage from the set – but not much substance emerges here.

The Griswold Odyssey fills 18 minutes, 23 seconds with info from Helms, Applegate, Daley, Goldstein, Bender, Hemsworth, Gisondo, Stebbins, Chase, D’Angelo, executive producer Marc S. Fischer, stunt coordinator Peter King, vehicle owners Steve and Lisa Griswold, and actors Leslie Mann and Charlie Day. “Odyssey” looks at the movie’s vehicle, stunts and effects, story/characters, cast and performances, and locations. The featurette touches on topics in a semi-random manner, but it offers a reasonable number of interesting tidbits.

Next comes a one-minute, 32-second Gag Reel. It presents goofs/giggles, but it also comes with a few alternate lines. Those make it worth a look.

13 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 12 minutes, 13 seconds. Most offer minor extensions or gags, but two moderately major bits appear. One shows the family’s accidental arrival at a Burning Man-style festival – complete with cameos from two of Daley’s old Freaks & Geeks co-stars – and another lets us see the fate of the Stone character. These become interesting to see.

Finally, Georgia lasts two minutes, two seconds. It offers some notes from Applegate, Gisondo, and Helms. We get quick thoughts about sets and locations. It’s just an ad for Atlanta.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Vacation. It includes the deleted scenes and “Georgia” but lacks the other extras.

Whether we view it as a remake or a reboot or a sequel, 2015’s Vacation becomes a weak film. It offers a handful of laughs but lacks much comedic zeal. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals along with good audio and some decent supplements. While not a terrible film, Vacation fails to provide enough humor to succeed.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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