Tag Archives: Leslie Mann

Rocky Road

New ‘Vacation’ a raunchy retread of a comedy classic

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Vacation

Starring Ed Helms & Christina Applegate

Directed by John Frances Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein

R

Thirty-two years later, it’s time for another Vacation.

The first one, for those of us who remember it fondly, was National Lampoon’s Vacation, and starred Chevy Chase in the now-classic tale of a family’s cross-country misadventures on their trek to visit the wacky theme park Wally World.

The “National Lampoon” is gone from the title, but the basic structure remains in this raunchy reboot. Ed Helms stars as Rusty Griswold, the now-adult son of Chevy Chase’s character. Rusty wants to recapture the memories of his childhood by giving his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and their two kids the same vacation experience he had as a youth.

His idea: Pack up the fam and head to Wally World!

“You just want to redo your vacation from 30 years ago?” asks Debbie, doubtful.

“The new vacation will stand on its own!” declares Rusty, rarin’ to go.

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Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo

If only. Everything about the new Vacation invites comparison to the old—and not for the better. The setup is the same, gags in the new movie are throwbacks to the original—a sexy babe in a convertible, the Griswolds’ uncool monstrosity of a station wagon—the peppy “Holiday Road” theme song from Lindsay Buckingham opens and closes the show, and Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, his co-star in the 1983 Vacation and three sequels, make appearances.

The new Vacation has moments of mirth, yes, but the most distinctive “stand” it takes, alas, seems to be in its determination to get dirtier, darker, grosser and more all-around ickier than any Vacation before. When the Griswolds take a dip in what they believe to be a natural hot springs and it turns out to be something much nastier, you’ll giggle, but you’ll also gag. And you’ll only get cold chills when a creepy truck driver (Norman Reedus from TV’s The Walking Dead) explains why he keeps a dirty teddy bear tied to the grill of his rig.

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Chris Hemsworth

At a stopover in Texas to visit Rusty’s sister (Leslie Mann) and her cattleman-stud husband, Chris Hemsworth hams it up with a prosthetic body part that can barely stay in his jockey shorts (and doesn’t, later). Rusty’s youngest son (Steele Stebbins) continuously pelts his older brother (Skyler Gisondo) with sexual putdowns.

Pop-up appearances by a host of celebrity guests—Charlie Day, Keegan-Michael Key, Nick Kroll, Michael Peña, Collin Hanks, Ron Livingston—are brief zaps and zings of gonzo electricity. And they’re the best things about the movie, which forces so much indignity and so many crass jokes upon its headliners, and which has so little of the wildly subversive sparkle that made its predecessor a classic.

It took two directors and a pair of writers to roadmap this rocky retread. It’s just too bad that, after all these years, it gets such disappointing movie mileage.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Chick Flick Fail

The stars deserve better than this revenge-comedy mess

THE OTHER WOMAN

The Other Woman

Starring Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Directed by Nick Cassavettes

PG-13, 109 min.

 

If The Other Woman didn’t have such a recognizable cast, it might be just plain forgettable. Instead, high-profile stars and a major chick-flick marketing push almost guarantee it will make an even bigger, messier splash as it goes down.

Leslie Mann (This Is 40, The 40-Year Old Virgin) plays Kate, a whiny, neurotic housewife who discovers her cad husband, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from TV’s Game of Thrones), is having anTHE OTHER WOMAN affair with a sexy Manhattan lawyer, Carly (Cameron Diaz).

So what does Kate do? Why, she befriends her husband’s mistress, naturally!

Then Kate and Carly find out Mark is cheating on them both (gasp!) with another woman, portrayed by former Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton, whose role here (if not her acting career in general) seems to be limited to what can be done in a teeny bikini, in slow motion.

The next step in the mind-bogglingly implausible plot is all three women becoming BFFs and plotting their revenge on the man who can’t be faithful to any of them. Their plan includes spiking his breakfast smoothie with estrogen, swishing his toothbrush in the toilet, replacing his shampoo with hair-removal cream, and putting laxatives in his liquor.

In 2011, the hit comedy Bridesmaids introduced mainstream audiences to the idea that an ensemble cast of gals could be just as raunchily funny as a bunch o’ guys. But “The Other Woman” has none of that movie’s masterful mojo, which begins with a great script and extends through the director.

THE OTHER WOMANIn this case, director Nick Cassavettes (The Notebook) bears much of the blame, lacking the deft touch to bring off the right blend of humor and humanity needed for a “revenge comedy” that ventures into the tricky trifecta of love, marriage and serial adultery. Screenwriter Melissa Stack, a former lawyer herself, supposedly based the Diaz character somewhat on her own experiences as an attorney, but somehow her tale is lacking almost anything any modern female would ever think, say or do.

And poor Coster-Waldau, who as the ever-wayward husband has to suffer for his other-womanizing in so, so many painfully slapstick-ish, potty-humored ways, including enduring an explosive bout of diarrhea, walking through a pane of glass and sprouting a pair of hormonally enhanced man-nipples.

As an actor, he deserves better—and so does everyone else in The Other Woman, and anyone who buys a ticket expecting to see something funnier, something smarter and something better.

 

Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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