Interview: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, Directors of 'Vacation' The movie's co-director says the goal wasn't to remake the National Lampoon film, but rather "to bring it to the next generation." Rusty, the son from the '80s classic, is now in the driver's seat.
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Back To Walley World: The Griswolds Go On 'Vacation' Again

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Back To Walley World: The Griswolds Go On 'Vacation' Again

Back To Walley World: The Griswolds Go On 'Vacation' Again

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ED HELMS: (As Rusty Griswold) The four of us are going to take a little trip.

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE: (As Debbie Griswold) Paris.

HELMS: (As Rusty Griswold) No, much better. We're driving to Wally World.


APPLEGATE: (As Debbie Griswold) What?


More than 30 years after the original "Vacation," the Griswold's are back on the road. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are the co-writers and co-directors of the new movie. I asked them what's the best way to describe this film? Is it a reboot, a remake, a sequel?

FRANCIS DALEY: Sequel, very much a sequel.

JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, we've been very clear from the get-go, even with the studio, that we had no interest in trying to remake the movie that National Lampoon made in the '80s 'cause it's just so good that we wouldn't want to tamper with it. It just works. And so we felt it was organic to bring it to the next generation with Rusty Griswold grown up, taking his kids on a road trip to Wally World.

RATH: So you have Ed Helms being Ed Helms instead of Ed Helms trying to be Chevy Chase.

DALEY: Right.


DALEY: Exactly.


HELMS: (As Rusty Griswold) Look what your dad rented. That's a 2015 Tartan Prancer.

APPLEGATE: (As Debbie Griswold) Did you say Tartan, honey?

HELMS: (As Rusty) Yeah, Tartan's the Honda of Albania. But this baby is pretty sweet.

RATH: Now, I'm curious about when you guys first experienced the film because Jonathan, you're a little bit closer in age to me. When did you first catch the film...

GOLDSTEIN: I think I...

RATH: ...The original. What was your experience?

GOLDSTEIN: I'm pretty sure I saw it in the theaters. I was in my early teens. And it was probably inappropriate that I should see it in the theater because it was a little raunchy. It opened my eyes to kind of a subversive form of comedy that had not really been something in my brain 'til that time.

RATH: And John, you wouldn't have seen this in the theater, right?


RATH: How old were you?

DALEY: I did not, no. I was negative 3 years old. But I remember the first time I saw it, it was revolutionary for me. It kind of opened my eyes to what comedy could be and that it could be simultaneously smart and stupid. And that was kind of my favorite type of comedy - that smart-stupid where you're laughing in spite of yourself at goofy things. But then when you think about it, there is something - an additional layer to it that gives it an extra intelligence.

RATH: You know - this is not original to say - there are a lot of reboots going on lately, a lot of continuing franchises. We have the new "Jurassic World," "Terminator," "Mad Max." There's going to be a new Batman. We have a new James Bond on the way. I thought Hollywood wants young audiences. Why do you think we're going to these - tapping these old...

GOLDSTEIN: Well, fear, I think, mostly.


DALEY: Probably.

GOLDSTEIN: They're afraid. You know, there's nothing scarier to an executive than an untested new thing.

DALEY: Yeah, and I think they figure the same idea that hooked our last generation when they were young will hook the new young generation as well as the old generation. And we were both apprehensive about it, too, going into it. Like, we shared that same fear that people will be very cynical about the fact that we're bringing this franchise back to life. And so we knew we had to approach it from a new standpoint and really put it in our voice.

RATH: It sounds like almost an impossible task because you're given this existing franchise, people love it. You want to make it appeal to a new generation but not turn off the people who love the original.

GOLDSTEIN: Right, yeah. Well, we make it - there's a nod to that early in the movie where Rusty's pitching this idea of a road trip to Wally World to his family. And his wife, Christina Applegate, says...


APPLEGATE: (As Debbie Griswold) So you just want to redo your vacation from 30 years ago? Don't you think that's going to be kind of a letdown?

HELMS: (As Rusty Griswold) No, no, no, no. We're not redoing anything. This'll be completely different. For one thing, the original "Vacation" had a boy and a girl. This one has two boys, and I'm sure that there will be lots of other differences.

SKYLER GISONDO: (As James Griswold) I've never even heard of the original "Vacation."

HELMS: (As Rusty Griswold) Doesn't matter. The new "Vacation" will stand on its own.

GOLDSTEIN: So we were basically getting ahead of the audience's concern going into it and saying, like, we know what you're thinking, but give it a chance.

RATH: And that moment in the theater that I saw it, everyone really loved being in on the joke.

DALEY: Absolutely.

RATH: So we mentioned there's continuity here. I don't want to give away too much, but we do have - Clark Griswold is here. Chevy Chase...


RATH: ...Makes an appearance.

DALEY: Absolutely.

GOLDSTEIN: That was really important to us, actually.

RATH: Was it hard to convince him, or...


RATH: How did he feel about it?

DALEY: It wasn't, which was fortunate. And I don't think it was just because we paid him either (laughter). He really seemed to be excited to get back into that role of Clark Griswold. I think he has so many fond memories of playing him and also playing with Beverly D'Angelo. They have such an amazing rapport together. They really do feel like a married couple.


RATH: Yeah.

GOLDSTEIN: They bicker. They make fun of each other. That was one of those pinch-yourself moments where you're directing Chevy Chase in your "Vacation" movie. It's surreal.

RATH: There is - we talked about how times have changed. And in a way, I was kind of surprised to see this had an R rating. Well, you see some of the stuff that's on regular TV or Comedy Central these days. It doesn't feel as shocking nowadays.

GOLDSTEIN: Well, that's good.

DALEY: That's good to know.

GOLDSTEIN: It's also a rare opportunity. You don't see a lot of R-rated family comedies. It's a weird kind of a hybrid because it allows - what it allows us to do is to point out that just because you're a parent doesn't mean you stop being a person with a history and a sex drive and all the things that humans have that, you know, in movies, we tend to whitewash them. If you're a mom and a dad, that's all you should be.

DALEY: You know, we wanted to explore the realism of the family dynamic, and the R-rating kind of allows us to do it in the most broad way. It gives us the opportunity to put them in way crazier situations than normal.

RATH: You guys have been working together as a writing team for a while. More recently, you've done "Horrible Bosses," "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs." This is the first film you two have directed, right?

DALEY: Yeah.

RATH: So what's it like co-directing compared to co-writing?

DALEY: It was very much the same dynamic as when we were writing together. We're very collaborative. We kind of share the same mind, and we do everything at the same time. We don't assign one role to each person, which gives us the freedom to be able to bounce ideas off of each other, see what sticks, see what makes us laugh. And in a way, it's an advantage to writing comedy solo.

RATH: Do the actors ever try to play you off each other?

GOLDSTEIN: All the time.

DALEY: Oh, absolutely.

GOLDSTEIN: Ed Helms, you know, he's malevolent.

DALEY: They're very manipulative people (laughter).

GOLDSTEIN: No, you know, I mean, there were, on rare occasions, I guess we would disagree on sort of a performancey thing, and then we would just try and get it both ways and see which worked best in editing.

RATH: You guys are going to be working on the "Spiderman" reboot.



DALEY: We can finally acknowledge.

GOLDSTEIN: We've been saying no comment...

RATH: Awesome.

GOLDSTEIN: ...For the last week, but it's...

DALEY: This is the first time we can say that we are writing it.

GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, we're thrilled.

RATH: And there is - I mean, in comics in general, but in "Spiderman," I think in particular - there's lots of space for humor there.

GOLDSTEIN: Oh, yeah.

RATH: So I'm expecting...

DALEY: Well, I mean, he's a sharp kid and witty and kind of deals with the fact that he's an outcast and a geek through humor. It is the sort of safety net for geeks like us (laughter). So I think we can totally relate to where he's coming from, as well as the superpowers, which we also have.

RATH: Of course, yeah. John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein are the co-writers and co-directors of the new movie "Vacation" which is out on Wednesday. Gentlemen, thanks for coming in.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you for having us. It was a pleasure.

DALEY: Thank you so much.


LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: (Singing) Holiday road, holiday road...

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