In 1983, ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ burst into cinemas. The tale of the Griswold family desperately trying to enjoy a fun, family holiday only to be disastrous, resonated with audiences. It gave star Chevy Chase’s career a huge boost with his comedies becoming 1980’s mainstays. Three theatrical sequels followed with ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ still an annual TV tradition. ‘Vacation’ is the fifth in the series, updating what’s been happening in the Griswold’s crazy but always funny world.

Wanting to bond with his family and relive childhood memories, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) decides to take everyone on a road trip. Their destination is Walley World, a massive amusement park. Taking his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two sons, their idyllic vacation swiftly goes awry. Meeting people including his sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her very weird husband Stone (Chris Hemsworth) add unexpected calamity to their holiday with Walley World increasingly looking out of reach.

Johnathan Goldstein directs ‘Vacation’ with an appropriately light touch. It certainly isn’t a gentle comedy as it cheerfully wears its political incorrectness on its sleeve. Fans of the series will find many familiar elements, adding a nostalgic layer. Newcomers should still enjoy it, even if it’s hardly sophisticated humour. It’s crude and some jokes don’t totally work but ‘Vacation’ supplies consistent laughs when needed.

‘Vacation’ relies on its talented cast to convey its silly humour. They do it well with Helms’ nerdy father a good foil to Applegate’s ‘do anything’ mother. The cast have a great time partaking in some of the outlandish situations their characters find themselves in. It’s also pleasing seeing Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo return to their original roles, still showing the comic timing which made them so popular.

As part of the series ‘Vacation’ slots in neatly with its predecessors. It has enough of its own atmosphere to stand apart from the sequels but connects effortlessly. The Griswold family are still the least welcome family you’d want to go on a holiday with but watching them from the lounge room is always a safer and funnier option.

Rating out of 10: 6


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