‘New-fangled sequel’ surprises writer


Some of us have seen “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” the 1983 classic that brought our IQ down about 10 points.

It is a timeless film that those of us who enjoy stupid humor will be sharing with our oldest kids for years and years to come. In this film, the Griswold family travels across country to a theme park called Wally World. Encountering many strange delays on the way, the adventure finally comes to an end when the family reaches their destination only to find it has closed down. Refusing to let the trip die, Clark Griswold pulls a fake gun on the security guard and makes sure his family is able to enjoy their trip to the park.

In July, this classic movie received a sequel simply titled “Vacation.” 32 years after the first film, the second generation of Griswolds have families of their own. With family comes family problems, especially with the Griswolds. The movie focuses on the son, Rusty Griswold, and his family including a wife and two sons. Rusty, now a pilot, realizes his wife is unhappy with the way things are going when his friends mention their trip to Paris. Later, looking back at pictures of the annual family vacation, Rusty notices a decline in his wife’s demeanor.

Remembering his family vacation from 1983, Rusty recommends his family take the same cross country trip he did when he was younger. On the way, with a foreign minivan and a GPS in Korean, the Griswolds meet with many unfortunate circumstances. Nearing the end of the trip, the car is destroyed and the family has abandoned all hope. The decision to turn around and go home is final until a conversation with his dad has Rusty determined to make it to Wally World with his family.

We all know how the first one ended and you can expect a similar ending to this film. The moral of the story is that if you liked the first one, you are sure to like the second one. With all-new disasters and two brothers instead of a brother and sister, the film shadows the first with the same lesson and the same end result.

I was never a fan of the first film, so I never really had the desire to see this new-fangled sequel. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed this film. It was more awkward humor than dumb humor. The film can definitely be considered a family classic for the older members of the family. If younger children were brought to see this film, the unfortunate parents will have a lot of undesirable questions to answer.

Although the movie is technically a sequel, you do not necessarily need to have seen the first film to understand this one. It is the same as taking your kid to see the Muppets movie even though they have never seen the Muppets television series or experienced an old Muppets movie special. The child can still enjoy the movie, but they might not be as excited to see the return of some of the classic Muppets characters. This can be said for “Vacation” whole heartedly. The younger audience may not be able to recognize Clark and Ellen Griswold or understand the reference to Cousin Eddie’s family, but the storyline remains unscathed in the minds of the viewers.

The film is one worth seeing, but be warned, some foul play is at work here. The best element of the film might be how well the John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein stayed true to John Hughes’s original story. The classic writer that brought us “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Breakfast Club” developed the ground on which this story stands. The world according to John Hughes is a safe place to those of us who enjoy his cult classics. Though “National Lampoon’s Vacation” is not his best work, the carefulness with which the writers of this revival studied the Hughes’s work has earned this film an acclaimed four of five stars.