A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Vacation is a sequel to/reboot of the original National Lampoon's Vacation comedies. Ed Helms stars as a grown-up Rusty Griswold, who hopes to recreate the infamous road trip his own family took when he was a teen. Like the 1983 version, this Vacation is chock full of crass humor, coarse comments, sexual references, and constant strong language. Nearly every line of dialogue includes an obscenity -- from "motherf---er," "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "bulls--t" to "p---y," "d--k," and more. Violent moments/topics are played for humor (like siblings roughing each other up, a fist fight between families, a woman in a car getting killed by a truck, jokes about rape, pedophilia, incest, and more), and sexual content includes glimpses of bare breasts, scenes in which a man's large genitals are clearly outlined by his underwear, tons of crude innuendo and graphic references, and a scene of several partially nude couples waiting to have sex in public. One scene includes a mom chugging beer and then projectile vomiting while running an obstacle course.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
VACATION reunites us with the Griswold family: Ed Helms is the grown Rusty Griswold, now an airline pilot who lives in Chicago with his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins), who constantly attacks his older brother. After friends brag about their memorable trip to Paris, Rusty decides that his family needs to recreate the long-ago Griswold road trip to Walley World in California. So Rusty rents a Tartan Prancer ("the Honda of Albania") and drags his reluctant clan across the country. As in the original, the Griswolds then face a seemingly endless list of obstacles and humiliating tragedies that nearly derail their ability to get to their destination.
Is it any good?
You'll likely have a few laughs watching this movie, but they're coming at the cost of base, gross-out, juvenile, sexual jokes. Although there's no doubt that the original Vacation was crass, Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo (who make a brief appearance here) made most of the franchise memorable; but the new version -- despite a talented cast -- tries so hard to be provocative that the gags feel over-the-top and forced. The sequence of Debbie chugging an entire pitcher of beer and then proceeding to projectile vomit her way through a sorority obstacle course is especially gross, as are the references to rape, pedophilia, incest, and sex acts.
That's not to say that audiences won't laugh. Charlie Day pops up as a suicidal white-water rafting guide who leads the Griswolds on a killer (and admittedly hilarious) ride. Other actors -- like Norman Reedus, Michael Pena, and Keegan Michael Key, as well as Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth as, respectively, Rusty's sister, Audrey, and her attractive (and ridiculously endowed) husband, Stone -- also add much-needed relief from the brothers' squabbling and Helms' clueless attempts at family bonding.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about reboots and remakes. Why are they so common? Why do you think filmmakers and studios are drawn to them? How does Vacation stack up to others?
How are sex and drinking portrayed in the movie? Are characters responsible when it comes to both topics? Are there realistic consequences? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these subjects.
Vacation -- like some other comedies -- uses humiliation as a source of humor. What do you think about this brand of humor? Why do certain topics make some people laugh and not others?
Most of the movie's violent moments are played for humor. Does that change their impact? Is it OK to let kids see some types of movie violence but not others?
- In theaters: July 29, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 3, 2015
- Cast: Ed Helms, Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann
- Directors: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content and language throughout, and brief graphic nudity