Staying true to the tone of the original, yet standing on its own, “Vacation” is a surprisingly entertaining reboot of the Chevy Chase films that began in 1983.
It’s one of the funnier films of the summer.
In “Vacation,” Ed Helms plays Rusty Griswold, who comes up with the idea to recreate his childhood vacation to Wally World – much to the dismay of his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins).
The re-creation is complete with a series of mishaps, ranging from a “duel-like” encounter with a mysterious truck driver to a chance for Rusty to reconnect with his sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and the rest of the Griswold family – Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen (Beverly De’Angelo).
“Vacation” was co-written and co-directed by Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the two behind the “Horrible Bosses” films. There are plenty of elements of those films here, including the same R-rated, raunchy humor that isn’t afraid to push the envelope.
Helms is a lot of fun as the lovable buffoon Rusty, who is desperate to spice things up with Debbie and reconnect with his sons. Applegate shows some comedic flair as well, with a visit to her old sorority – one of the film’s comedic highlights.
The comic revelation is Stebbins, the foul-mouthed youngest son who constantly torments his older brother. Stebbins gets some of the film’s best material and delivers some of the biggest laughs.
There are plenty of nods to the original “Vacation” films that fans of the series will appreciate, but this one also manages to have its own voice. It’s a reboot that doesn’t coast off its predecessor.
Also opening this week
Finally arriving in Bowling Green this week is “Mr. Holmes” (B+), a different spin on Sherlock Holmes anchored by a strong performance from Ian McKellen.
This is a version of Holmes that hasn’t been seen before, with McKellen playing the famous detective. Holmes is retired, and in the twilight of his life, trying to come to grips with a case from years ago – one that caused him to leave the detective business forever.
Holmes turns to a young boy named Roger (Milo Parker) to help piece together the case, despite the objection of Roger’s mother (Laura Linney).
McKellen is such a commanding presence that he keeps “Mr. Holmes” interesting, even when the story comes close to losing the audience.
Mitch Cullin’s screenplay is very deliberate in its pace, balancing several flashback story lines with the main plot.
For the first half “Mr. Holmes” feels like it is all over the place, but the audience’s patience is rewarded with a final act that ties all three story lines together nicely.
“Mr. Holmes” is rated PG for thematic elements, some disturbing images and incidental smoking. It opens Friday at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10.