Not having seen the original “Vacation” movies, I can’t offer an opinion on this reboot-cum-sequel hybrid within the franchise’s context. What I can say however, is that, much to my surprise, I found myself enjoying this one a lot more than I thought I would. It’s no undiscovered classic and it’s not without its drawbacks (mostly lackluster, lifeless direction by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, whose directorial inexperience undermine their clever screenplay), but it gets the job done: It’s a light, mainstream comedy with a likable cast (in particular Skylar Gisondo as the oldest son, Kevin), amusing episodic vignettes and fun, surprising cameos. Its biggest sin is not knowing what to do with the always-welcome Christina Applegate, whose role seems modelled after Julie Bowen’s Claire on “Modern Family,” which doesn’t suit Applegate’s go-for-broke comedic talents. Nevertheless, this is a fun and undemanding mainstream comedy, and that’s just the right attitude for a “Vacation” remake in the twenty-first century.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)