National Lampoon's European Vacation

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National Lampoon's
European Vacation
European Vacation.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Produced by Matty Simmons
Screenplay by John Hughes
Robert Klane
Story by John Hughes
Music by Charles Fox
Cinematography Robert Paynter
Edited by Pembroke J. Herring
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • July 26, 1985 (1985-07-26)
Running time 95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $49,364,621

European Vacation (originally given the working title Vacation '2' Europe) is a 1985 comedy film. The second film in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, it was directed by Amy Heckerling and stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. Dana Hill and Jason Lively replace Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall as Griswold children Audrey and Rusty. After Hall declined to reprise his role (he decided to star in Weird Science instead), the producers decided to recast both children.

The film is the only installment of the series to credit the family’s name spelled as “Griswald”, instead of "Griswold", and the only installment which does not feature the "Cousin Eddie" character.


The Griswold 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 (Mel Smith). While in their English rental car, a yellow Austin Maxi, Clark drives his family endlessly around the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout for hours, unable to maneuver his way out of traffic due to the opposite direction of North American driving. His wrong-way driving habits cause him to frequently crash into cars and accidentally knock over a frightened bicyclist (Eric Idle) who reappears in numerous scenes as if by coincidence. At Stonehenge, Clark backs their Austin into a priceless, ancient stone monolith, knocking all the stones down like dominoes, which they do not even notice as they happily leave the scene.

In Paris, the family wears stenciled beret caps, causing Rusty to be teased by young women at the Eiffel Tower observation deck. Clark explains to Rusty that the importance of the vacation is to be a family, and that if Rusty is embarrassed by the beret, he will get rid of it. Clark's well-meaning gesture of throwing away the beret is mistaken as a Frisbee causing a lady's dachshund to jump off after it; later, young Rusty meets a hooker at a bawdy Paris can-can dance show. While in Paris, the family's video camera is stolen by a passerby whom Clark had asked to take a picture of the family. Also, Clark, with his terrible French, manages to insult every native Frenchman.

The Griswolds burst in on a bewildered, elderly German village couple (Willy Millowitsch, Erika Wackernagel), who they mistakenly think are relatives but who provide them dinner and lodging anyhow, not knowing each other's languages. Clark manages to turn a lively thigh-slapping Bavarian folk dance stage performance, into an all-out street brawl, after which he, fleeing hastily, gets their Citroën DS stuck in a too-narrow medieval archway after knocking down several street vendors' stands.

In Rome, the Griswolds rent a car at a travel office. However, they don't know that the real manager is restrained by two thieves. The leader thief (Victor Lanoux) gives them a car with the real manager in the trunk. He claims that he lost the keys to the trunk. Later the Griswolds go shopping. The next day Ellen is shocked to discover that private, sexy videos of her from the family's previously stolen video camera have been used in a billboard advertising a pornographic movie, leaving her completely humiliated. After screaming her anger at Clark (who had told her he had erased the video), Ellen storms off to the hotel they are staying at and encounters the thief who sold them the car. She confesses her recent troubles. She is still unaware that he is a thief. The man then tries to get the car keys, which are in her purse. However he fails and then the police arrive at the hotel and Ellen tries to escape. She is kidnapped by him, prompting Clark to rescue her. At the end while flying back to the U.S.A., Clark accidentally causes the plane to "knock" the Statue of Liberty's torch upside down.


Landmarks and locations[edit]

Famous landmarks and sights appearing as the family tours England, France, West Germany, and Italy include:[1]

Other locations used in the movie include:

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


The film's musical score 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 the soundtrack including many other contemporary songs.

  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[edit]

The film opened July 26, 1985 in 1,546 theaters in the United States and grossed $12,329,627 its opening weekend, ranking number one at the box office.[2] After its initial run, the film grossed a total of $49,364,621 domestically.

Critical response[edit]

The film received poor reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 38% based on reviews from 21 critics, with an average of 4.7 out of 10.[3]

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."[4] 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."[5]


External links[edit]