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National Lampoon's European Vacation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

National Lampoon's
European Vacation
European Vacation.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Boris Vallejo
Directed byAmy Heckerling
Screenplay by
Story byJohn Hughes
Produced byMatty Simmons
CinematographyRobert Paynter
Edited byPembroke J. Herring
Music byCharles Fox
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • July 26, 1985 (1985-07-26)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million[2]
Box office$49.3 million[3]

European Vacation is a 1985 American comedy film directed by Amy Heckerling and written by Robert Klane and John Hughes[4] and based on a story by Hughes. The second film in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, it stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Hill, Jason Lively, Victor Lanoux, and Eric Idle.


The Griswald family competes in a game show called Pig in a Poke and wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe. In a whirlwind tour of western Europe, chaos of all sorts ensues.

They stay in a fleabag London hotel with a sloppy, tattooed Cockney desk clerk. While in their English rental car, a yellow Austin Maxi, Clark's tendency to drive on the wrong side of the road causes frequent accidents, including knocking over a bicyclist, who reappears throughout the film. Later, Clark drives the family around the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout for hours, unable to maneuver his way out of the chaotic traffic. At Stonehenge, Clark accidentally backs the car into an ancient stone monolith, toppling all the stones like dominoes, which they do not even notice as they happily leave the scene.

In Paris, the family wears stenciled berets, causing Rusty to be teased by young women at the Eiffel Tower observation deck. Clark offers to get rid of the beret for Rusty, but when he throws it away, another visitor's dachshund mistakes it for a Frisbee and jumps off the tower after it, landing safely in a nearby pond. The family's video camera is stolen by a passerby whom Clark had asked to take a picture of the family. Clark is also mocked by a French waiter for his terrible French. Later, Clark and Ellen visit a bawdy Paris can-can dance show, finding Rusty already there with a prostitute.

Next in a West German village, the Griswalds burst in on a bewildered elderly couple, whom they mistakenly think are relatives but the couple ends up providing them dinner and lodging anyway, each family not being able to understand the other's language. Clark turns a lively Bavarian folk dance stage performance into an all-out street brawl, after which, while fleeing, he hastily knocks down several street vendors' stands and gets their Citroën DS stuck in a narrow medieval archway.

In Rome, the Griswalds rent a car at a travel office, but unknown to them, the men in charge are thieves, holding the real manager captive. The lead thief gives them a car with the manager in the trunk, claiming he lost the trunk keys. The next day, Ellen is shocked to discover that private, sexy videos of her from the family's stolen video camera have been used in a billboard advertising porn, leaving her completely humiliated. After screaming angrily at Clark (who had told her he had erased the video), Ellen storms off to their hotel where she encounters the thief who rented them the car. She confesses her recent troubles, still unaware that he is a criminal. The man then tries to get the car keys, which are in her purse, but fails. When the police arrive at the hotel, he kidnaps Ellen, prompting Clark to rescue her.

On the flight home, Clark falls into the pilot's cockpit and accidentally causes the plane to knock the Statue of Liberty's torch upside down.


The Griswalds:

Characters in America:

  • John Astin as Kent Winkdale, the host of Pig in a Poke
  • Paul Bartel as Mr. Froeger, the patriarch of the Froeger family that competed against the Griswalds on Pig in a Poke
  • Cynthia Szigeti as Mrs. Froeger, the wife of Mr. Froeger
  • Malcolm Danare as Moe Froeger, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Froeger
  • Kevi Kendall as Ruth Froeger, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Froeger
  • William Zabka as Jack, Audrey's boyfriend
  • Gary Owens as the voice of Johnny (uncredited), the announcer of Pig in a Poke
  • Sheila Kennedy as the Game Show Hostess #1.[5]

Characters in England:

Characters in France:

Characters in Germany:

  • Willy Millowitsch as Fritz Spritz, the supposed relative of Clark
  • Erika Wackernagel as Helga Spritz, the wife of Fritz and a supposed relative of Clark
  • Claudia Neidig as Claudia, Rusty's German girl

Characters in Italy:



Producer Matty Simmons initially told Dana Barron she would be returning to the role of Audrey. But after Hall declined to reprise his role and was opting to star in Weird Science, Heckerling requested both children be recast.[6]


Famous landmarks and sights appearing as the family tours England, France, West Germany, and Italy include:[7]

Other locations used in the film include:

Scenes supposedly taking place in West Germany were actually shot in a German-speaking part of Italy (Brixen).


The musical score for National Lampoon's European Vacation was composed by Charles Fox, who replaced Ralph Burns of the first film. Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" was once again featured as the film's theme song, with many other contemporary songs included throughout the film.

  1. "Holiday Road" by Lindsey Buckingham
  2. "Some Like It Hot" by Power Station
  3. "Town Called Malice" by The Jam
  4. "Problèmes d'amour" by Alexander Robotnick
  5. "Ça plane pour moi" by Plastic Bertrand
  6. "Pig In a Poke" by Danny Gould
  7. "Baby It's You, Yes I Am" by Danger Zone
  8. "New Looks" by Dr. John
  9. "Back in America" by Network


Box office

National Lampoon's European Vacation opened July 26, 1985 in 1,546 North American theaters and grossed $12,329,627 its opening weekend, ranking number one at the box office.[8] After its initial run, the film grossed a total of $49,364,621 domestically.

Critical response

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives National Lampoon's European Vacation a score of 34% based on reviews from 29 critics, with an average of 4.82 out of 10. The critical consensus reads; "European Vacation charts a course through a succession of pretty destinations, but the journey itself lacks the laughs that made the original outing so memorable."[9]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times thought positively of the film stating, "While it's very much a retread, it succeeds in following up the first film's humor with more in a similar vein." She added, "The film's best visual humor arises from the mere juxtaposition of European settings with the funny hats, T-shirts and soda cans with which the Griswalds announce their presence."[10] Entertainment magazine Variety gave the film a negative review explaining, "As the family of characters cartwheel through London, Paris, Italy and Germany - with the French deliciously taking it on the chin for their arrogance and rudeness - director Amy Heckerling gets carried away with physical humor while letting her American tourists grow tiresome and predictable. Structurally, the film unfolds like a series of travel brochures."[11]


  1. ^ "NATIONAL LAMPOON'S EUROPEAN VACATION (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 10, 1985. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  2. ^ Stuart, Jay (December 5, 1984). "Heckerling Took Stepping Stone Route From College To Big Time". Variety. p. 24.
  3. ^ National Lampoon's European Vacation at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Hughes was not involved in European Vacation due to commitments to The Breakfast Club, but earned a writing credit due to the use of elements from his script for the first Vacation film; see Hughes's resume
  5. ^
  6. ^ Michael Yo, Dana Barron (2013). Michael Yo interviews Dana Barron about Vacation. The Yo Show. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  7. ^ 'National Lampoons Movie Locations and Now & Then photos' at YouTube
  8. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation - Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  9. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation". Flixster Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (July 27, 1985). "Film: National Lampoon in Europe". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  11. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation". Variety. 1985. Retrieved December 19, 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 November 2021, at 15:21
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