When holidays go wrong...

Saturday September 05, 2015 Written by Published in Entertainment

I met Papa Harry Napa at the Empire Cinema to discuss the weekly movie review column about three months ago when I first started working for this newspaper.


Judging from his words and action, I knew he was an excellent businessman. He knew what he wanted and was quite good at bargaining.

At first, he was a bit hesitant about this movie review thing but he was open to new ideas and opportunities to help the viewers get a clearer view of the films that they are screening at the cinema.

He told me when movie critics give a movie a negative review, that movie invariably turns out to be a winner at the box office.

I guess, he understood his customers much better than I do.

Rest in peace, Papa Harry. You served your country well.

Now, back to the movies.

What could go wrong on a family vacation? Just about everything, as it turns out.

The movie Vacation brought back fond memories of my family holidays back home.

It wasn’t any planned break, just a spontaneous thing. Dad would say, “I think we should go and visit our family in town.”

Dad was a businessman then, running a dairy shop in the village where I spent more than half of my life.

Our school holidays were mostly spent helping him at the shop, working on the farm and looking after the livestock.

The only excitement was the afternoon football match with the other boys from the village. But life was pretty good then.

Going to town, about 50 kilometres from my village was a pretty big deal for us then.

It takes about two and a half hour dusty ride on an open bus to reach there and all I thought about during the journey was movies.

We didn’t have electricity in the village back then so TV was a privilege for us.

I remember faking that I was sick a couple of times just to stay a bit longer and complete the movies that I had started.

Dad somehow figured that out. And he found the best cure, his belt. He didn’t have to strike, just the sight of it would get me into action and within minutes, I would be ready with my bag at the doorway, complete with a suitably sullen look. 

The movie Vacation takes you back in time and bring back memories of those worst moments of your holidays. The movie is not ugly but what the characters who pass through it certainly are.

Vacation is one of a the series of movies written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.

A grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms), a pilot for a domestic airline, realises that something is missing in life.

His wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) doesn’t look as happy as she did in their first few years of marriage and their two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins) have their own problems.

In a hope of a much-needed family bonding session, Rusty surprises his family with a cross-country road trip back to Wally World where he used to go for holidays as a child.

What happens next is a series of nightmares that destroy Rusty’s hope of a perfect family holiday.

I wasn’t even born when the original movie in the series was made in 1983 and I had no chance of reading some critics apparently described as the best vacation movie ever.

Directors Goldstein and Daley, who co-wrote American comedy flick Horrible Bosses, get you laughing from the start.

The hilarious pictures that accompany the opening credits are the perfect appetiser before a giant main meal. And the closing credits serve as a mouth-watering dessert that settles the system after 99 minutes of a wild rollercoaster ride.

Ed Helms, who became one of my favourite actors in the genre from his performances in the Hangover series, proves one of the best when it comes to moments that need the right reaction.

His portrayal of a naive family man who is willing to go the extra mile to keep his family happy and together is pure bravura.

Helms is one of the funniest actors in the industry and is well suited to his role.

Skyler and Steele make the brothers, James as nerdy older brother and bully younger brother Kevin, seem completely believable.

Chris Hemsworth has a small role in the movie but delivers it well with his charm and hunky look.

In a nutshell, the Vacation is nothing new. It’s a reboot of earlier movies in the same genre but gives the old jokes a refreshing update

Vacation is not so much about the destination as the journey to get there. But if the journey becomes boring, it’s the destination that makes it worthwhile.

Note – Empire Cinema is also showing One More Win - a documentary on the Cook Islands rugby team which was just a step away from creating history by making it into this year’s Rugby World Cup.

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