Excl: 'Burt Wonderstone' Writers on the Challenges of a New 'Vacation'
by Ben Pearson
March 7, 2013
With The Incredible Burt Wonderstone coming to theaters on March 15th, we had an opportunity to sit down with the writers of that movie, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, to talk about the magician comedy. But our conversation spanned a variety of topics, including their upcoming directorial debut on the new Vacation movie with Ed Helms playing an older Rusty Griswold. Below, you can find their comments about their plans for the movie, the challenges of bringing a new Vacation movie to modern audiences, and their thoughts on bringing Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo back into the mix. Read on!
I sat down to talk with Jonathan & John in Los Angeles for a video interview, and we'll be posting that full conversation sometime in the next week or so. But in the meantime, here are a few chunks of the most important info relating to the new Vacation film. Daley is aware of how hesitant fans of the original might be when they hear about a new entry into the series, and he clearly stated the duo's intentions for the movie:
"Look, we know that there are going to be people that hate us either way for even touching it. But we're not trying to reinvent it or remake it at all. It's kind of a continuation of the story of the Griswolds. It's Rusty grown up now. So I hope that any rational mind can appreciate that. [laughs] We're really just nodding to the original - which I grew up with, he grew up with, we love, it's one of our favorite comedies - and building off of that."
It's been 16 years since we last saw the Griswold family on the big screen in Vegas Vacation, so a lot of younger crowds likely won't be familiar with the early movies in this series when Goldstein and Daley's new take comes out. I asked them about the challenges of bringing a new Vacation story to modern audiences. They're aware of the legacy but excited for the writer/directors to be able to put their own spin on things:
"Our starting point was a great family road trip movie, and a movie about a father and his sons and a movie about a man and his wife. All the mishaps that befall them are all sort of hung onto the skeleton of the story we're telling about these people. That's what we're trying to make as real and as relatable as we can."
Chevy Chase's comedic timing as Clark Griswold is so essential to making the original movie work as well as it does, and the guys are confident that Ed Helms is going to be able to bring his own comedic presence to the movie and hope it will be just as relatable. Daley had this to say about their leading character:
"[Chevy] really was a contributing factor of how beloved that franchise was. You could relate to him as though he were your own dad. My dad even looked a lot like him back in the day, so just his whole mannerisms were so great and specific. And what we love about Ed is that he's got his whole thing to bring to the table. He's such a likeable guy, and he's a young father. I think people will be able to relate to that and the fact that he can do no wrong, really, in the eyes of the public."
And obviously one of the biggest questions at this point about any new Vacation property is: will Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold? They're showing up in Old Navy commercials, so why not this new movie? Goldstein seemed optimistic about them returning, saying:
"Yeah, I mean, we're sort of in the process of that now. We want to get things a little more hammered out, but yeah - it's our hope that they'll be involved."
Seems like there's still a little bit of work left to do, but hopefully once the The Incredible Burt Wonderstone press tour is over, the guys can get back to work and we'll hear an official announcement about Chase and D'Angelo soon. They told me filming begins "mid-June" this summer, so expect to hear something before then unless the studio wants to try to keep the actors' potential involvement a secret during production.
So there you have it. We'll have much more in my interview with screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley as their new film, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, gets closer to release this March. Stay tuned for our discussion about the casting process, their work on the upcoming Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers, Horrible Bosses 2, and even an update from John about 5-25-77, the long-awaited Star Wars movie he starred in back in 2007. In the meantime, it sounds like these guys are hoping Ed Helms can provide an on-screen personality that's as unique as Chevy Chase was in the original Vacation. Sound good?