BenderSpink, David Dobkin Productions, New Line Cinema,

Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Chris Hemsworth, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Keegan-Michael Key, Regina Hall, Charlie Day

Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is grown up now, married to his lovely wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) with two sons. Rusty is a pilot with EconoAir flying back and forth from Indiana to Chicago and spends every vacation with his family up at a rustic cabin. The family makes the best of it, but it’s getting really old. When Rusty overhears Debbie complaining about it, he stumbles across some old photos of his family, Mom and Dad and his sister Audrey on the 1950’s  1970’s  journey across the country to Disneyland  Walley World which he fondly remembers. (Don’t we all?)   So he rents a car and plans a cross country journey just like his Dad to bond the family together. Naturally everything that can go wrong in the next generation Griswold family disaster.

It makes sense that a reboot of Vacation would be about Rusty. Rusty was the most normal one in the family, and we all knew he would group up to be like his Dad, with a great heart and a losing streak a mile long. Now many people are upset that this movie touches sacred ground. The original 1983 movie is holy to some folks. Personally I suffered through the it’s different than the story back in 1983. The original short story was published in National Lampoon Magazine long before it was a movie. I had a subscription to three magazines in those days, and they were 3 of the best. The first was Mad Magazine, and the second was a somewhat inferior but still pretty good copy cat magazine called Cracked, and the third was National Lampoon. There was a series of articles over a number of monthly issues about the court case between Wile E Coyote vs. the Acme Corporation. I followed that month after month as they had the court transcripts, and I couldn’t imagine how the judge would rule, but the ending was absolutely perfect and the judge got it right. If you want to know the decision, you can email me at admin@edsreview.com and I’ll be glad to reply. But the original Vacation was a short story about a family who packed up in a station wagon and drove across country to Disneyland in 1956 because they watched the damn advertisements every Sunday on ABC, the brand new network who helped finance Walt, and who needed content for their upstart network, and what could have been better than Walt’s Disneyland TV show. It was a match made in heaven. Well, I was in Kindergarten in 1955 when Disneyland opened, and my Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa and my brothers and I made the journey from Pittsburgh to Anaheim to visit Disneyland because we HAD TO in our hardly road worth blue Ford station wagon my dad recovered from the junk yard and fixed up. Actually most of the gags from the original movie were in the story, but changing it to Walley World and moving it ahead a few decades in time did really hurt the story a bit, but needed to be done. Now don’t get me wrong. The 1983 movie was unbelievably funny and one of the greatest films ever made, and certainly one of my personal favorites of all times. The critics of this new version that are tearing it to pieces for two basic reasons. First, because this one is a lot more filthy R rated than the original which was shocking in a way, but still mostly family friendly. This one definitely is a hard R film and is not kid friendly at all. My answer to that is that this is a different time, and those of us who remember the original from it’s original release are at least 40 years old now and can handle the dirtier version. The second reason that people hate it is because it is such a treasured film and didn’t need a remake. Well, my answer to that is that it NOT by any means a remake, and is simply a 2015 version of the next generation Rusty trying to rescue his struggling family and relive the best memories of his youth. When you think of that, Clark actually did succeed.

No sign of Uncle Eddie here, as I suspect Randy Quaid is still struggling to right the sailboat he took off on. But we get to see how Audrey ended up, and the little tramp settled down, or did she? As for this film, I was shocked at how absolutely funny it really was. Granted, knowing the original, you had to know where the jokes were headed, but when they arrived they were so outrageous that the whole theater was laughing out loud time after time. I thought my poor wife was going to bust a gut sometimes. It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed that hard. Perhaps the first time I saw Porky’s (the original) in the theater was the last time. It too was a rather raunchy comedy, but just so outrageously funny. This is the same thing. No, this Vacation is not really as good as the original, nothing could be, but dang it, I liked this better than the original Hangover, even. I would be lying if I didn’t rate this 5 stars for me. Another criticism have heard was that Walley World was the greatest destination in the world, and the prime goal of the original and the visit to Walley World here really ends up as almost a cameo. Certainly it was not the prime destination. Well, Disneyland in 1956 was the place everybody in the world wanted to go to, but today it’s not nearly the ultimate destination it was in the beginning. This film gets that right because it’s not about going to Walley World, it’s about getting the family together when it’s falling apart, and the destination wasn’t important. It was to Rusty because of his own memories, but not to everyone else. As for the performances, everyone was about perfect. This is, I think, the best performance Ed Helms has ever done. I think he was perfect as Rusty. Christina Applegate as Debbie did a great job and really performed some great scenes. The two boys were just like me and my brother (My brother and me) in the way the had such a hard time getting along. Chris Hemsworth has a small part as Audrey’s husband, but he certainly steals the movie every time he’s on screen. In fact, the weakest parts could be when they finally make it to Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo)’s place in San Francisco to borrow a certain green station wagon to finish the journey to Los Angeles. But is was necessary to have them in it to tie it all up. The two of them have aged just like Clark and Ellen would have anyway.

I’m sorry that I’ve over 1200 words already, as I am excited by this film, and could watch this one over and over as I have with my two favorites of the series (The original and Christmas Vacation). If you are going to get offended by the swimming in sewage, pedophile truck driver jokes, and other sexual references, then stay far away, as the raunchiness is up there with Hangover or Superbad, but if you can handle the light-hearted shock comedy, don’t miss this one. Just go in with an open mind, and realize they are not trying to take the original 1983 Vacation away from you, but to show you what happens 30 or so years later. Watch and listen to the rest of the theater laughing and you’ll realize it’s just a lot of good fun and not to be taken so seriously.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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** Santa Buddies (2009)

Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Keystone Entertainment, Santa Buddies Productions

Craig Anton, Andrew Astor, Charisse Baker, Tom Bosley, Field Cate, Tim Conway, Chris Coppola, Josh Flitter, Nico Ghisi, Ben Giroux, Skyler Gisondo, Zachary Gordon, Ryan Grantham, Ellie Harvie, Richard Kind

Santa’s in trouble.  The North Pole Icicle is melting because Christmas spirit is waning.  Santa needs help because it’s gotten so bad that Santa’s reindeer can’t even get off the ground anymore.  But the buddies will help.  Santa Paws recruits the buddies to pull a doggie sleigh and deliver the presents themselves.  But they also need to improve the Christmas spirit as well or Santa is out of business.

George Wendt appears as Santa, and he’s one of the best, but Christopher Lloyd appears as a greedy mean dog catcher who will only place dogs if someone can cough up the $300.00.   Changing him will be the biggest challenge.  This is a kiddie movie, like the other Bud movies.  Adults may find it a little silly and the cgi is really cheesy, but for kids, it’s going to be magic.  Truly, if you need a couple hours peace and quiet,  put the kids in front of the TV and put this on!   Or better yet, watch it with them.  And if you’re a fan of any of the other films, or are a big dog lover, these dogs are really cute and cuddly.  So it’s a harmless cool kiddie film about how the dogs saved Christmas.  Just kick back and enjoy.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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