Film Review: Vacation (2015)

Release Date: July 29th, 2015
Directed by: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Written by: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Based on: characters by John Hughes
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh
Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Leslie Mann, Chris Hemsworth, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Charlie Day, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key, Regina Hall, Nick Kroll, Kaitlin Olson, Michael Pena, Hannah Davis Jeter, Colin Hanks, John Francis Daley 

BenderSpink, David Dobkin Productions, New Line Cinema, 99 Minutes


“I just wanted to sing Seal with my family like normal people.” – Rusty Griswold

Full disclosure, I’m not an Ed Helms fan. I think the main reason for that is due to him making the final season of The Office pretty damn insufferable. I also don’t necessarily blame him for that, I think it was the writing and whoever was calling the shots on that show at the end. But with that, I was burnt out on Ed Helms for several years.

So, as I approached this film, I wanted to go into it with an open mind and without my previous biases. I knew I’d have to eventually get to this, as I was already watching and reviewing all the Vacation movies and didn’t want to simply omit this one just because it didn’t feature Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as the leads.

I’m happy to say that I found this to be pretty decent. It does have some laughable moments, features cameos with a lot of people I like and Ed Helms had solid chemistry with Christina Applegate. Also, he played this version of Rusty Griswold pretty straight and not as over the top as his Andy Bernard character from The Office.

Ultimately, though, this is a rehash of what the original film was with the same destination in mind. The adventure on the way to WallyWorld followed similar beats and homaged some classic moments but there was enough original stuff in this to allow it to stand on its own and to not just be a paint-by-numbers remake.

I also like that this did bring back Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo in their iconic roles, even if it was just a small part within the larger movie.

I can’t really say that this is all that memorable, though. It’s better than some of the other Vacation movies but that was never really a high bar to begin with.

In the end, this is goofy, mindless escapism and while some jokes don’t land as intended, the movie still has a good, positive spirit about it and I liked the core characters.

Rating: 6.25/10

Film Review: Loving (2016)

Release Date: May 16th, 2016 (Cannes Film Festival)
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Written by: Jeff Nichols
Based on: The Loving Story by Nancy Buirski
Music by: David Wingo
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Michael Shannon

Big Beach, Raindog Films, Focus Features, 123 Minutes


I really wanted to get around to seeing Loving before the Academy Awards. Ruth Negga was nominated for Best Actress for the film and I have been a fan of her work since first discovering her on the great British television show Misfits. People really need to watch Misfits; I think it is still available on Hulu.

The film is also the first time that I had seen Nick Kroll shed his comedy shtick and try something serious. Kroll did great, by the way.

Loving is the true story of the Loving family and how their interracial marriage caused them a lot of problems in Virginia in 1958, as well as after. It follows their story of love and showcases the challenges that they face. In the end, their situation led to a Supreme Court decision that prevented any sort of legal troubles for interracial couples that marry.

The acting in the film was superb and Negga really takes things to another level, especially in the latter half of the film. Joel Edgerton was solid but he is usually pretty good. Michael Shannon has a small role as a photographer but he is also really impactful.

The focal point of the movie is the relationship between the Lovings. They support each other, they carry each other and ultimately, their bond is tested but only gets stronger.

Loving is a good movie about an important story that needed to be told. I wouldn’t consider it to be a great picture but it features a really strong display of acting prowess from its stellar cast.

Rating: 7/10