Where to start with all the immensely positive comments that I have for this sequel– emphasis needed, because of the shoddy reputation of sequels in general; let alone comedic ones.
Ed Helms and Christina Applegate provide a strong foundation as Rusty and Debbie Griswold, with Ed still finding the little pleasures in his job as a pilot for Econo-Air and Debbie hiding her suspicions about the lingering state of their marriage. Their two sons James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins) are a hilarious juxtaposition of one another; with James being the owner of seven different journals whilst his younger brother Kevin has a profound fondness for expletives.
The plot is simple and well-known: drive to Wally World. I was worried that, like the many family road trips before it, the laughs would fizzle out after the first thirty minutes. But as they began their journey, it soon became clear that they were going to flow freely and often.
Ed Helms takes over the role of Chevy’s “goofball Dad” title effortlessly, giving the character heart, integrity and just the right amount of quirk. His timing is impeccable, trying to get his family to join in with Seal’s Kiss From A Rose finally pays off on the third attempt; and oddly enough, makes for a wonderfully touching moment. Likewise with Christina Applegate, proving to be another solid choice when it comes to putting together a successful comedy. As a pair, they led the story well and even when they had to touch on the issue of their marriage, the tone still stayed warm and heart-felt.
With all these great elements together in one film, plus the addition of perfectly-timed walk on roles (thankfully Chevy Chase’s was kept brief- but served the nostalgia element nicely), I am stunned that the film is receiving such negative attention. Speaking as someone who has watched the original National Lampoon’s Vacation I can honestly say, in terms of laughs, that Vacation safely surpassed. It may not be a popular opinion because how can you ever surpass an original? But Vacation truly felt like an organic extension of its predecessor; taken into a more modern setting.