Remember those family vacations you used to take as a kid? Remember those movies about family vacations you used to watch as a kid? Did your childhood also involve long, music-filled car trips where you bonded with your siblings, or a series of now heavily-syndicated Chevy Chase ’80s nostalgia pics? Or a combination of both?

Regardless of whether this man (now better known as Pierce from Community) occupied your TV screens or served as the inspiration for any number of ill-judged family road-trips, National Lampoon’s Vacation has returned in this sequel/remake/reboot/re-imagining (however you want to look at it), simply called Vacation.

The now grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) has inherited both his father’s endearing earnestness and tiring determination, deciding to take his wife (Christina Applegate) and two kids on a road-trip where they will inevitably end up at a fun park strapped into a mean-looking roller-coaster.

Fully self-aware, Rusty declares that this trip is “different” from the last one and that “the new vacation will stand on its own”. Mining your sense of nostalgia and any bittersweet/painful memories of childhood for all its worth, Rusty sets out across America, invariably encountering along the way any number of surprising, near-fatal and frequently comic situations.

Jumping from place to place, the gags are varied and interchangeable, some falling flat and others genuinely hilarious. Relying mostly on slapstick and shock humour, some of the jokes will bring on a welcome chuckle from old and young alike, while there are a couple of welcome moments, few and far between, where Vacation goes for a slightly darker, more cringe-worthy brand of humour amongst otherwise stock-standard material.

The Griswolds’ road-trip manages to take a detour to Rusty’s sister Audrey, now grown-up and married to a none-too-shy southern farmer (Chris Hemsworth), meeting the couple in one of the film’s more amusing moments. Stopping even for a brief respite to check in with the original mum-and-dad team (Beverly D’Angelo and Chevy Chase), Vacation will appeal to anyone who had a real sense of rapport with the original movies, while those who have no affinity for the series will still crack a smile now and then.

Awkward, charmingly funny and like any long car trip, Vacation is full of fleetingly fun and enjoyable moments, sandwiched between stretches of a familiar, very well-travelled road.

Vacation is in cinemas now.

On The Big Smoke