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National Lampoon's European Vacation
1985 - PG-13 - 95 Mins.
Director: Amy Heckerling
Producer: Matty Simmons
Written By: John Hughes, Robert Klane
Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Jason Lively, Eric Idle, Dana Hill
Review by: John Ulmer
"European Vacation” is the first of three sequels to the 1981 comedy “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” or just plain “Vacation.” The first film chronicled the events in the life of Clark W. Griswold, Jr., and how he tried to get to Walley World with his family.

Now, the cast is back (well, Chevy Chase and D’Angelo, at least), for a sequel that is familiar to the first, but nowhere near as funny.

After winning a prize on John Astin’s “Pig in a Poke” gameshow, Clark Griswald (spelled with an “a” in this film instead of an “o”) and family head out for a tour of Europe, which includes backing into Stonehenge (we saw it coming), driving on the wrong side of the road, getting trapped in the Big Ben roundabout, and a running gag about battered tourist Eric Idle, whom Clark runs over, punches, slaps, runs over again, etc…

It’s odd how the humor changed in these films. The first, written by John Hughes, was not exactly slapstick but just funny. Same for the second. And then, the third, “Christmas Vacation,” also written by Hughes, did a 180. The humor in it was completely different from the first; anyone who disliked the first would probably love “Christmas…” And then there was “Vegas Vacation,” which was the most underrated sequel. However, I think the WORST sequel is “European…”

Many of the jokes fall flat. Let’s face it. And the kids…

Jason Lively is decent as Rusty, but the girl who played Audrey is one of the most annoying child actors I have ever seen.

Chevy Chase seems the most held back from all his other “Vacation” films. Clark just doesn’t seem like Clark all the time.

Beverly D’Angelo is about the same as she usually is: there’s no complaining from me on her account.

But most of those things account for how bad the film is; HOWEVER, I have a theory of why it is so underrated…

You have to have lived in Europe to understand many of the in-jokes and gags. If you haven’t, you just won’t get half of them. I have lived in Europe around seven years before, and I must say that many of the jokes were for those that have either toured or lived in Europe for an amount of time.

John Hughes is listed as writing this film, but actually, he didn’t. He got credit for co-writing because he created the characters. I just thought I should make that point since many people don’t. If you don’t believe me, read: John Hughes says: “I didn’t write them! I swear!” in regards to the “European” and “Vegas” films.

All in all, I have to tell you that “European Vacation” was a major blow to the series, mainly because it failed on all levels we expect from a “Vacation” film. However, when the credits rolled, I still got that same distinct feeling I got when the other films were over: a bit of relief and sadness. I’m not sure why, to tell you the truth. It’s something about the way they play the credits. I think it’s just because I like the “Vacation” films so much that no matter how bad one of them is, the others are so good it makes me happy.

So, yes, it’s not a great movie, but it’s not a horrible movie, either. I’m glad I watched it. It’s the worst of the series, but not an awful movie in any aspects.
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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