7:30 PM, 16th October, 2015
In 1983, Clark and Ellen Griswold (Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo) took their family, including their son Rusty, on a cross-country vacation of a lifetime to Wally World in National Lampoon’s Vacation. Needless to say things didn’t go to plan (or it wouldn’t have been funny!) and the ensuing hijinks made for some very memorable viewing.
It’s now 30 years later, and Rusty Griswold (Helms) is all grown up. When he hears that Wally World is closing forever he decides to take his family, including his two sons, on a cross-country vacation of a lifetime to... well... Wally World. And, as you’ve probably guessed, things don’t go to plan. Ta da – comedy hijinks!
Vacation is the directorial debut of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who also wrote the script, and it takes quite a different approach from the Harold Ramis-directed, John Hughes-scripted original. But then it’s been 30 long years and times have changed. The ridiculous slapstick is still there, as is the gross-out humour, so if you’ve seen the original and didn’t like it then I’d suggest skipping tonight.
Helm is his typical frazzled self, and Applegate is great as the ever-surprised-by-her-husband’s-choices Debbie but my favourite character in the film by far was Chris Hemsworth’s very ‘self-confident’ Stone Crandall who shows us that his time spent working out to look like Thor can pay other comedy dividends too.
There are a lot of nods to the original film and the visit to, now grandparents, Clark and Ellen makes for a nice cameo moment. Overall it’s very obvious-funny (subtlety slept in and missed the ride) but there are some nice moments of family bonding the Griswolds will never forget – no matter how much counselling they get.
9:19 PM, 16th October, 2015
Mike (Eisenberg) is your average, small-town convenience store clerk with two loves: his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart) and his fondness for smoking a fairly large amount of marijuana.
But when government assassins appear out of nowhere and target him for elimination, it becomes apparent he’s also a programmed sleeper-agent with a secret past as a human death-machine. Soon, Mike is on the run, leaving his laid-back life behind while trying to avoid death, save his girlfriend, and possibly get another bowl smoked – just so long as he can spare a moment skillfully evading bullets and blowing his own mind with his heretofore unknown talents.
An inventive combination of comedy, action and romance – think Jason Bourne meets Pineapple Express – American Ultra is the second film written by Max Landis (son of director John Landis) who previously impressed with 2012’s Chronicle. With a rich supporting cast featuring such fun character actors as Topher Grace, John Leguizamo, Walton Goggins and Bill Pullman – along with Eisenberg simultaneously playing in and against type as the programmed killer and the befuddled stoner, and Stewart getting to play actual emotions rather than be her dead-faced Twilight self – this is a story about a stoner whose paranoia that the government is out to get him may (for once) be very, very real.