1. Vacation (Opened Wednesday, Warner Brothers/New Line, 3,411 Theaters, 99 Minutes, Rated R for crude and sexual content and language throughout, and brief graphic nudity, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at press time: 26% Fresh [84 Reviews]): So, is this a remake, a sequel or both? If it’s the former, I dread the inevitable remakes of the John Hughes classics that will surely come. If it’s a sequel, okay, that would be kind of inventive. But I think it’s the latter, which is problematic to say the least.
The basic plot is the same–a man takes his dysfunctional family on a cross-country vacation to the mythical Wally World from the first film—but it seems that they try to up the ante this time around. Now it’s Rusty (Ed Helms, because he’s a bigger star than Anthony Michael Hall or Johnny Galecki, I guess) instead of Clark. Instead of the gorgeous supermodel flirting with dad while driving on the highway, she gets hit by an oncoming tractor trailer. Instead of eating a sandwich with dog pee on it, they whole family wallows in raw sewage.
But bigger isn’t always better, especially when the original still stands up well today.
2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Paramount, 3,800 Theaters,131 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at press time: 93% Fresh [101 Reviews]):This film shouldn’t be so enticing. The franchise is one year away from its 20th birthday, with only five installments to show for it. Its star is eligible for an AARP card, and is still trying to live down a legendary press junket from ten years ago which was notorious for him jumping on couches and calling morning show hosts “glib.”
But the film is getting spectacular reviews. Tom Cruise, at 53, looks 36 and does a lot of his own stunts, including the one in the trailer where HE HANGS FROM THE OUTSIDE OF A PLANE WHILE IT IS TAKING OFF. And the franchise stays fresh by adding new elements and recurring characters to the old favorites. And averaging a film once every four years seems to be a case of making sure there is a quality reason to bring everyone back.
So, this franchise might not have that much life left in it, but it appears that it has enough to bring audiences in.