Vegas Vacation

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Vegas Vacation
Vegas Vacation Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Kessler
Produced by Jerry Weintraub
Screenplay by Elisa Bell
Story by Elisa Bell
Bob Ducsay
Based on Characters by
John Hughes
Starring Chevy Chase
Beverly D'Angelo
Ethan Embry
Marisol Nichols
Randy Quaid
Music by Joel McNeely
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Edited by Seth Flaum
Jerry Weintraub Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • February 14, 1997 (1997-02-14)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million
Box office $36,400,360 (USA)

Vegas Vacation is a 1997 comedy film directed by Stephen Kessler. It is the fourth and final installment in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, and was written by Elisa Bell, based on a story by Bell and Bob Ducsay. The film stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid, with Ethan Embry and Marisol Nichols as Griswold children Rusty and Audrey. The film opened at #4 at the box office and grossed over $36.4 million domestically.[1] This is currently the only theatrical Vacation film not to carry the National Lampoon label.


At work, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) has invented a long life food preservative, earning him a large bonus check. Clark announces to his family that he is taking them on vacation. Enthusiasm wanes, however, when Clark says they are headed to Las Vegas, Nevada. His wife, Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), and teenage daughter, Audrey (Marisol Nichols) have their doubts, as Las Vegas is not known for its family-friendly atmosphere, while teenage son Rusty (Ethan Embry) appears to be more eager, and even asks if prostitution is legal there. Upon travelling to Vegas, they run into the "girl in the Ferrari" (Christie Brinkley) who appeared in the first film. Clark is the only one who sees her, but then notices that she has a child.

Upon arriving in Vegas, the family embarks upon a series of mishaps and adventures. Clark crosses paths with Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), the husband of Ellen's cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn). Eddie and his family now live in the desert just north of Las Vegas, on what used to be an atom bomb test site. While on a group tour of the gigantic Hoover Dam led by guide Arty (John P. Finnegan), Clark foolishly leaves the group after accidentally creating a leak in the dam's inside walkways, and is forced to climb the scaffolding to the very top of the dam to get out, because his cries for help cannot be heard over the roaring water of the spillway. Later that night, they win tickets to a Siegfried & Roy (as themselves) concert. Clark is involved, and is turned into a tiger, at the end he is turned back into human though.

The next day at night, tickets to a Wayne Newton (as himself) concert, (and a dress for Ellen) are sent in the mail. They go to the concert, only to realize that Newton had sent the dress, and while singing he has Ellen go on stage and sing with him.

The next day, the family go out to eat, but after Ellen gets a suspicion, they decided to go their own ways just for the day. Clark goes to a casino and becomes addicted to gambling (mostly blackjack, which he usually loses to an overzealous dealer (Wallace Shawn) who takes great pleasure from Clark's misfortune), Rusty gets a fake ID from a Frank Sinatra look-alike and becomes a winning high roller (taking on the pseudonym 'Nick Papagiorgio'), Audrey starts hanging out with Eddie's wild stripper daughter Vickie (Shae D'Lyn) and her friends (including Beatles look-alikes), and Ellen becomes addicted to Wayne Newton, who may have feelings for Ellen, and it is making Clark jealous.

Meanwhile, after Clark gambles away the family's $22,600 bank account, Ellen finds out and tells Clark that he is ruining their vacation together, besides the fact they are not even spending a "Family Vacation" together, and leaves. Then Russ and Audrey depart too. Russ goes off gambling for cars (as he has more success at this than Clark does), Ellen goes to eat with Wayne Newton, and Audrey goes to a strip club with Vickie, and begins to dance like a stripper, leaving Clark alone without money. Eddie — who has money buried in his front yard — tries to come to the Griswold family's rescue in return for everything the Griswolds have done for him and his family over the years. Clark and Eddie go to a local casino to get their money back, but after losing too many games, Clark runs out of Eddie's money, but, after walking dejected with Eddie along Fremont Street, comes to a realization that he no longer cares about getting his money back, but he needs to get his family back.

Clark then goes and finds Ellen at Newton's house (crashing through his house with a hijacked tour bus). He kisses Ellen, and apologizes to her, saying that he has learned that a "family vacation only works when you're with your family". They then go to a party where Russ is, and find him in a Jacuzzi flirting with girls who are in it with him. They take him out of the Jacuzzi before going to the stripper club, getting Audrey and leaving. The Griswolds gamble their last two dollars on a game of Keno. They take a seat next to an older man (Sid Caesar in a cameo) who compliments Clark on his lovely family, and hints that he has been lonely all of his life. Out of guilt, Clark tells the man to consider himself part of the Griswold family for the night. The man happily accepts Clark's kind words, and both parties begin the game. At first, the Griswolds are hopeful, but as they realize they have already lost the game, they sadly sit for moments in silence. Suddenly, the man next to them ecstatically declares that he's won the game. As he continues to express joy, he suddenly begins to slip in and out of consciousness while Ellen sends Rusty for help. He awakens one last time and whispers a message to Clark, before dropping his winning ticket and falling one final time.

Clark, puzzled, tells Ellen that the man said "take the ticket." When the casino security guards and paramedics arrive, they declare the man officially dead. They tell the Griswolds his name was Mr. Ellis, and commented on how sad his loneliness was to them. As Mr. Ellis is carried away, a janitor approaches with a vacuum cleaner, walking straight for the winning ticket on the floor. Though it appears Clark is going to allow it to be lost, he at the last moment pulls the ticket out of the path of the vacuum. With them winning the lottery, Clark and Ellen get remarried (Russ is Clark's best man and Audrey is Ellen's bridesmaid.) Afterwards, Clark hands Eddie a large pile of cash (Eddie can be overheard saying $5000 after counting it) and explains by telling him that "we were very fortunate last night." They all drive home in the four cars Rusty won on the slot machines: a red Dodge Viper, a maroon Ford Mustang, a black Hummer H1, and a white Ford Aspire.



The Mirage Resort on the Las Vegas Strip was a major filming location for this movie. It was filmed during the busy tourist season, from mid-June, through late September 1996. Several sections of the movie are filmed at Shenandoah, the home of entertainer Wayne Newton, who also appears in the film.

Nichols and Embry became the fourth different set of actors to play the Griswold children, Audrey and Rusty. This fact is referenced early in the film when Clark Griswold comments that he hardly recognizes his children anymore.

The role played by Toby Huss was similar to a number of MTV commercials from the early 1990s that featured Huss as a Vegas crooner.

This was the only theatrical Vacation film in the series to receive a PG rating.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received negative reviews. It has garnered a rating of just 13% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews[2]

Vegas Vacation was released on home video and to television.[3][4] [5][6]


External links[edit]