Totally tubular! – ‘Vacation’ and ‘Pixels’

By on August 5, 2015

The return of all things 80s continues to dominate pop culture, and the movie theater is no stranger to the phenomena. The latest reprise, reincarnation, rewrite, resurrection, or whatever you want to re-call it, is “Vacation,” which opened handsomely over the weekend bringing more than $14 million to the box office. It’s been a slow season for rated R comedies — “Trainwreck,” “Ted 2,” “Spy” — and “Vacation” packs a lot of laughs into an hour and a half.

Based on the original, 1983 “Vacation” starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as the Griswolds, “Vacation” reintroduces us to Rusty (Ed Helms) Griswold, the socially awkward teen in the original National Lampoon franchise (previously played by Anthony Michael Hall, my favorite Jason Lively, Johnny Galecki, and Ethan Embry.) Rusty is fully grown and has a family of his own, with a beautiful wife (Debbie, played by Christina Applegate) and two troublesome boys.

Sensing his family is reaching a desperate level of disconnect, Rusty decides to forgo the annual family trip to the cabin and replace the excursion with a cross-country road trip to Wally World — just like the original. On the journey, the family — just like the original -meets with unexpected hazards and near-death experiences.

The writers of the new “Vacation” seem to have taken into account the fact they were messing with a beloved franchise as they wrote lines giving credit to the original and poking fun at it at the same time. Classic scenes, like Christie Brinkley’s portrayal of The Girl in the Ferrari, are referenced and revised for maximum comedic effect; enter 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model Hannah Davis as Ferrari Girl. There are other celebrity sightings in “Vacation.” The audience is given a full view of all of Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”). Chase and D’Angelo make it back for a scene or two. Comedian Keegan-Michael Key makes a brief appearance as the Griswold’s Chicago neighbors.

Ed Helms (“The Hangover,” TV’s “The Office”) seems to be trying hard to typecast himself as the wimpy nerd guy. Most of the comedy happens around Helms, but when he has to deliver the straight man he does it to his finest. He is no Clark Griswold, which is great.

You know the movies where all the good parts are in the trailer? Well, this is not the case with “Vacation.” I just re-watched the trailer and it is mostly made up of outtakes and cut lines from some funny scenes. Get out and see “Vacation” if you are looking to laugh; this movie is definitely deserving of an R rating.

Rusty Griswold (played by Ed Helms) is all grown up and taking his family on a “Vacation” of their own. Christina Applegate plays his wife in the movie.

Rusty Griswold (played by Ed Helms) is all grown up and taking his family on a “Vacation” of their own. Christina Applegate plays his wife in the movie.

Also in theaters: ‘Pixels’

Nothing says the 80s more than video games. Okay, maybe neon-colored clothing does, but, oh well.

Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf in “Frozen”), and Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) are classic arcade video game champs. Now they have to use their skills to save the world from aliens who have taken a message the wrong way — as an act of war.

This movie is fun for the simple fact those of us who grew up in the 80’s get to relive a bit of our youth. As a movie goes, it’s not that good — entertaining, yes, but also just plain average.

“Horrible movie. Don’t waste your time,” writes Barry L. of Lancaster.

Oh, but did I mention Peter Dinklage … he’s worth the cost of admission alone.

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