"And you, sir, are no Chevy Chase."

National Lampoon's Vacation and its ensuing franchise is a more-or-less-fondly remembered institution of 1980s America. The film served as an important stepping-stone for a certain John Hughes, for chrissakes, and its injection of crass, dark humor into the story of a typical family's attempt at a wholesome road-trip vacation was melted permanently into a generation of impressionable young minds. A product of the coke-y, harsh vibe that seemed to dominate popular comedy at the time, Vacation was subversive, gross, and politically incorrect. These are different times.

The 2015 reboot of Vacation—its title now notably missing the National Lampoon seal of "quality"—follows the grown-up version of the original film's son, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms), as he recreates his disastrous childhood journey to the Walley World theme park. There are tons of callbacks, of course, from a hot blonde in a red convertible, to an interrupted romantic moment in a body of chlorinated water, to cameos by original Griswolds Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and Clark (Chevy Chase)—even the old Wagon Queen Family Truckster comes out to take a spin.

Support The Stranger

Much of the film hangs purposelessly on the bones of its predecessor, though there are a handful of fantastic scenes. By far the funniest comes thanks to Christina Applegate as Rusty's wife Debbie, and involves lots and lots of vomit, but it comes and goes early on. Steele Stebbins and Skyler Gisondo are also delightful as the Griswolds' sons, and a cavalcade of guest appearances—Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann, Norman Reedus, Tim Heidecker—deliver bright spots along the way.

Like the film it's based on, Vacation strives to maintain the aforementioned qualities of subversiveness, disgustingness, and political incorrectness, falling flat (looking at you, awkward stabs at racial humor) almost as often as it scores. It's a spirited tribute among a rash of far more embarrassing reboots (looking at you, Dumb and Dumber To), but there's only so much mileage you can get from nostalgia. recommended

Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival returns October 16 through November 8
The all-digital festival features one-of-a-kind performances and panels streamed straight to you.