The Red Band trailer for the sequel to the Vacation series was released online yesterday (it isn’t a reboot, as the old characters appear and it is the same timeline). I was surprised to see both raunchy and updated subject matter, and a tongue-in-cheek tone to aspects of the movie. Much as 22 Jump Street remarked on how it was going to be the same thing over again, it appears that Vacation will take the same approach. Ed Helms (playing a grown-up Rusty Griswold) explains to his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate) that he feels that the family is in a rut, and he proposes a solution: drive to Wally World, just like the vacation he remembers fondly from his childhood. Debbie asks, “So you want to re-do your vacation from 30 years ago?” Rusty: “This will be completely different”. If we don’t get the joke yet, Rusty’s oldest son admits, “I’ve never even heard of the original vacation”, to which Rusty replies, “Doesn’t matter; the new vacation will stand on its own, okay?”
It is nice to see a movie not take itself too seriously, and I am a bit of a sucker for meta-jokes like these. But if they are treated as crutches, you don’t get 22 Jump Street, you get a bad Family Guy episode, limping through self-referential jokes until it mercifully ends. Hopefully, Vacation is leaning towards the former. This trailer shows us a lot of familiar characters and locations: Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo return, and Leslie Mann plays the grown-up Audrey. They seem to return to the same hotel and pool of the original, and the “hot woman driving in car” gag is reprised, as well. There is a thin line between paying homage and reference for its own sake, and I hope that this Vacation stays on the safe side of it.
Also, I think it is clear that this version is going to be a much harder “R” comedy than the original. While definitely not tame, especially by the standards of its day, there weren’t any mentions of “rim jobs”, “glory holes”, or swimming in raw sewage in the 1983 film. It makes sense to update the movie to this dirtier tone, as the amount you can get away with has certainly changed in the last 30 years, as has what will shock an audience. This actually has me more excited than anything else I saw in the trailer, as it hints that this new Vacation may actually be able to stand out from the others. The worst-case scenario is that this film regurgitates old characters, jokes, and ideas ad nauseam. If the decision was made to craft this sequel by upping the filthiness, then I think it reduces the odds that we simply see a recycled Vacation. This has me anticipating the release of this movie more than I expected; hopefully it doesn’t end up derivative and forgettable.