The Vacation Series
National Lampoon's Vacation
National Lampoon's European Vacation
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2
Vacation (September 1/15)
A depressingly wrongheaded followup, Vacation follows an adult Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) as he attempts to recreate his family's ill-fated trek to Walley World with his wife (Christina Applegate's Debbie) and two sons (Skyler Gisondo's James and Steele Stebbins' Kevin) - with problems naturally ensuing as the Griswolds encounter a whole host of oddball characters and bizarre circumstances on the way. Filmmakers John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein have infused Vacation with an almost aggressively episodic narrative that grows more and more problematic as time progresses, as the movie suffers from a hit/miss ratio that is, to an increasingly palpable extent, far more miss than hit and it does consequently become awfully difficult to work up any genuine interest in the protagonists' continuing exploits. Helms' unabashedly broad performance vacillates wildly between amusing and obnoxious, and it's worth noting, too, that many of the film's periphery players fare surprisingly poorly. (This is especially true of Chris Hemsworth's hopelessly unfunny cameo as Rusty's conceited brother in law.) The misguided atmosphere reaches a head with the obligatory Chevy Chase appearance, as the wholly ineffective nature of this sequence is indicative of everything that's wrong with the entire production (ie it's all just so unnecessary). By the time the climactic brawl rolls around, Vacation has cemented its place as the worst of the National Lampoon's Vacation sequels - which is no small feat, certainly, given this franchise's penchant for erratic entries.