Friday, 21 August 2015

Vacation review

I viewed the much-hated adaptation/remake/sequel thingy based on the much-loved (now!) 1983 Vacation. Hit the jump to find out how I fared; was it truly a celluloid calamity, or is it a misrepresented masterpiece hated on by over-pretentious critics......

The answer, by the way, is neither. Vacation is the rare remake that is actually very funny (of course, that doesn't make it a great film!) but has been tarnished by the scrutiny of pretentious critics. Now, I admit, I am a card carrying member of the pretentious critic club. But here's the thing: as I watched Vacation, and found myself laughing (as in, actually laughing), I realized that films don't necessarily need to have beautiful angles and an avant-garde soundtrack to be entertaining. In any case, more on that later.

The full crew...
How much of the story has changed? Well, the constructs are very similar (yet not nostalgic in the *wink wink* mindset, it never feels as if they're trying to ram the cliches down your throat); unwanted car, check; wally world; check; hot girl in Ferrari, check; family bonding, check; awkward motels, check. So yeah, it's all there. If you've not seen the original, basically the plot involves the Griswolds taking a cross - country voyage across America to the legendary 'Wally-World' (hmm, I wonder what that could be based on). Along the way, they come across a variety of setbacks that threaten to derail the trip. It's hardly dynamite, but being based on a 1983 film (and essentially being a sequel (it's not similar enough to be a remake)), I suppose it doesn't have much choice in the matter.

Said exploits include the following: cars with a thousand buttons (including a swastika); swimming in sewage; suicidal raft-instructors; cannabalistic cows; vain farmers; dodgy truck-drivers; nasty motels; calamitous conversations; dishonest hillbillies; chevy chase; kinky sex; four-corners defiling; paranoid police; crazy cults; arrogant pilots; bullying brothers; slow motion fights; broken rollercoasters; rampant commercialism; college trips, and, and........ well, that's only the half of it.

A little accident...
The fact is, plain and simple, Vacation don't mean shit. In the original there seemed to be some social commentary; riding into black neighbourhoods, treatment of others, commercialism, family, the anxieties of the time. This iteration is played straight for laughs. And, you see, in the eyes of the critics, this must be terrible. I'm here to tell you that they're wrong. Vacation is, by no means an excellent film; but I feel that there must be a distinction that critics make. If the film is claiming to be a masterpiece of cinema - with a dynamic script, beautiful shots, and first class directing - then they should judge it as such. Yet if the film is claiming to be nothing more than a light-hearted comedy, don't shit on it because it's not 81/2.

So, is it funny? YES. For example, the self aware monologue at the start of the film ('We haven't even heard of the original vacation!', 'Don't worry, the new Vacation will stand on it's own') had the whole audience in stitches. Add to that the subversion of the original film (Ferarri which was prominent in all of the original is smashed to pieces in around a minute, a truck takes it's place) and then some interesting character comedy. The appearance of Chris Hemsworth as a farmer with an incredibly large appendage provides ample laughs, as does a certain someone masquerading as a suicidal raft instructor. The whole madcap exuberance of the road trip setup provides many opportunities for humor, and I won't spoil them. Hell, even the credits are hilarious. Suffice to say, this film IS funny (beware: if you can't take an onslaught of toilet humor and bad language, avoid this).

In terms of technical execution, it's ok. The acting is about as good as it has to be - and is somewhat typical for a bog standard comedy movie. The shots are not bland (as in, The Fault in our stars/ avengers). In fact, there are a few nice widescreen side-shots and two incredible slow motion sequences. The music befits a film like this, it's shite, but sometimes the music a film needs IS shite.

So all in all, Vacation is a rather funny movie. It's shallow, unoriginal, forgettable, and unremarkable. But it's damn funny. And that's good enough for me.

Vacation gets 5 stars!

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