It’s hard to imagine an adult Rusty Griswold in a “National Lampoon’s Vacation” sequel/reboot, and more so with Ed Helms in the lead role. While Helms is quite hilarious when working in TV and movie ensembles, there’s something about him that makes him look older than he really is. Considering he’s 39 in real life, it makes sense that he could play Rusty Griswold within the adult age we’d picture today.
Helms, though, has a real dare filling the driver’s seat of Chevy Chase in this sequel that shoots this summer with a screenplay by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein. Even if rumors persist that Chase and Beverly D’Angelo will cameo as Clark and Ellen Griswold, there must be some fans who thought Rusty would never turn out to be a carbon copy of his dad. With Helms as Rusty, though, it’s possible we’ll be seeing history repeating itself.
In fact, it’s reported that an adult Rusty (joined by his wife, played by Christina Applegate) will travel to Wally World again with kids in tow. And, in theory, the pairing of Helms and Applegate could be a dynamite comedic duo. The only question is whether this is really the right vehicle for Helms continuing his comedic leading man status he began in the more original “Cedar Rapids” and “The Hangover” franchise.
Then again, Helms is best at playing the hapless man where everything can go wrong. The only thing he hasn’t done that much is slapstick, which might be in the cards if the “Vacation” sequel celebrates the original. In that sense of comedic reinvention, Helms may be copying Chevy Chase, despite not looking possible that he could be his son.
Much of that could work if Chevy Chase is involved more in the production or the road trip. Nevertheless, it’s still a risk for Helms to make his next starring vehicle be in a sequel to a beloved franchise. In every sense of the word, Rusty Griswold would have to be nowhere near reminiscent of his dad in order to avoid being branded a copycat.
How that works is yet to be determined outside of allusions to the original films being inevitable. Most people remember Rusty as being the antithesis of his dad where all the disasters were taken with a grain of salt and just part of the chaotic adventure. Of course, Rusty keeping that attitude as an adult while things fall apart around him might end up being the comedic reinvention Helms and the movie needs.
Until Helms can realize other rumored original projects, his transition to comedic leading man may have to rely on this “Vacation” sequel. It’s a risky endeavor, yet franchise familiarity has its advantages. It helps in getting the film noticed before any reinvention of the Griswolds takes place in the Ed Helms improvised comedy universe.