It's been 32 years since the release of National Lampoon's Vacation, in which Chevy Chase, as dad Clark Griswold, packed his Griswold clan into what looked like a Country Squire from Hell and sought the family-bonding experienceTM by driving cross-country to the mythical Walley World. The new but not necessarily improved edition is here to make you feel either very old or very relieved you weren't around when the first one, or any of its sequels, hit.
This Vacation isn't a strict remake, but more of an update: Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is the grown-up version of the son played by Anthony Michael Hall back in 1983. He now has a family of his own: There's sparkly, agreeable wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and eternally bickering sons James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins).
Rusty cares only about pursuing an elusive experience that will be satisfying to him -- in particular, re-creating the disastrous trip detailed in the earlier Vacation. So the family heads off on an adventure that includes a pit stop at a sorority keg party, an accidental steer murder, and lots of strangely misplaced homoerotic humor.
Some of the humor is slapsticky and kid-friendly, but most of the gags involve language most responsible parents don't want their tiny tots to hear, as well as invocations -- though not depictions! -- of things like glory holes and rimjobs. Who, exactly, is Vacation for? Kids will end up seeing it, of course — they always do -- but it will hardly scar them for life. It's not smart enough for that. Still, most of the jokes are just too vague and unshaped to be funny for anyone old enough to buy a ticket without a guardian.