A contentious on-the-road reunion ends with a reaffirmation of family values in the unremarkable but engaging “My American Vacation,” which should find its most receptive audience on cable. First-time filmmaker V V Dachin Hsu gets surprising mileage from a simple recipe: Place three generations of a family inside the cramped confines of an RV, add a few smoldering resentments and melancholy memories, then allow everything to simmer during a long trek through the scenic California countryside.
Grandma Lee (Tsai Chin) flies from China to join her family in America for her 70th birthday. But the vacation turns sour when newly divorced daughter Ming-Na (Deborah Nishimura) takes charge in control-freak fashion, annoying sister Ming-Yee (Kim Miyori) and brother-in-law Henry (Dennis Dun) with her bossiness. And Melissa (Sasha Hsuczyk), Ming-Na’s young daughter, can’t understand why her father isn’t around anymore. Pic is credible, if predictable, as it focuses on the interplay of family members in close quarters. “I am old, and I will die soon,” Grandma tells her squabbling daughters, hoping to defuse their anger with an amusingly shameless bid for sympathy. Fortunately for all parties concerned, grandmother knows best.