National Lampoon's European Vacation

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National Lampoon's European Vacation
Theatrical release poster by Boris Vallejo
Directed byAmy Heckerling
Screenplay byRobert Klane
Based onCharacters
by John 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]

National Lampoon's European Vacation is a 1985 American comedy film directed by Amy Heckerling and written by Robert Klane based on characters created by John 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 with special appearances by John Astin, Paul Bartel, Maureen Lipman, Willy Millowitsch, Mel Smith, and Moon Zappa. It tells the story of the Griswold family when they win an all-expense-paid trip to Europe as chaos of all sorts occur.

The film received mixed reviews from critics but was a financial success.



The Griswold family competes in a game show called Pig in a Poke and win an all-expense-paid trip to Europe, and in a whirlwind tour of Western Europe, chaos sorts ensues.

They stay in a sordid 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. Later, Clark drives the family around the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout for hours, unable to maneuver out of the chaotic traffic. At Stonehenge, he accidentally backs the car into an ancient stone monolith, toppling all the stones like dominoes.

In Paris, the family's camcorder 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, although he does not realize it. 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 fountain. Later, Clark and Ellen visit a bawdy Paris can-can dance show, finding Rusty there with a prostitute.

Next in a West German village, the Griswolds burst in on a bewildered elderly couple, whom they mistakenly think are relatives due to mistaking the address, but the couple provides them dinner and lodging anyway, each family not 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 Griswolds 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 camcorder have been used in a billboard advertising porn, leaving her humiliated. After screaming 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 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 and takes her away in the Volkswagen Beetle. Clark chases the thief all over Rome until he ends it up in a fountain. The police arrest the thief.

On the flight home, Clark tries to find a WC but falls into the pilot's cockpit and accidentally forces the plane to drop altitude, knocking the Statue of Liberty's torch upside down as Rusty declares, "Yep, the Griswolds are back."



The Griswolds:

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 Griswolds 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
  • Sheila Kennedy as the Game Show Hostess #1.
  • Gary Owens as the voice of Johnny (uncredited), the announcer of Pig in a Poke[4]

Characters in England:

Characters in France:

  • Jacques Herlin as a French hotel desk clerk
  • Sylvie Badalati as Rusty's French girl

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 girlfriend

Characters in Italy:

  • Victor Lanoux as The Thief, an unnamed criminal who took over a travel office
  • Massimo Sarchielli as The Other Thief, the unnamed accomplice of the unnamed thief
  • Moon Unit Zappa as Rusty's California girlfriend



John Hughes received nominal credit for writing and story, due to the use of characters and ideas from the first Vacation film, but was not directly involved with European Vacation.[5] Hughes would later state that Warner Bros. had begged him for a sequel to Vacation but he declined at the time. He would eventually agree to return to the franchise by adapting one of his other National Lampoon stories, "Christmas '59," into National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation in 1989.[6]



Producer Matty Simmons initially told Dana Barron she would be returning to the role of Audrey. But after Anthony Michael Hall declined to reprise his role and was opting to star in Weird Science, Heckerling requested both children be recast.[7]



Famous landmarks and sights appearing as the family tours England, France, West Germany, and Italy include:[8]

Other locations used in the film include:

  • Statue of Liberty (the torch of which their plane crashes into and knocks over)
  • Notting Hill, West London (Clark runs over Eric Idle's character here)

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 the 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.[9] 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 37% based on reviews from 30 critics, with an average of 5.1 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."[10] On Metacritic, it has a score of 47 out of 100 based on 10 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[11]

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 Griswolds announce their presence."[12] 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."[13]

See also



  1. ^ "NATIONAL LAMPOON'S EUROPEAN VACATION (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 10, 1985. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. 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. ^ "'Laugh-In' announcer, voiceover veteran Gary Owens has died". Archived from the original on July 3, 2020.
  5. ^ "Hughes's resume". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Ham, William. "Straight Outta Sherman: An Interview with John Hughes". Lollipop Magazine Online. Archived from the original on August 19, 2000. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  7. ^ Michael Yo, Dana Barron (2013). Michael Yo interviews Dana Barron about Vacation. The Yo Show. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  8. ^ 'National Lampoons Movie Locations and Now & Then photos' Archived June 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine at YouTube
  9. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation - Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  10. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation". Flixster Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on May 23, 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
  11. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Archived from the original on September 24, 2020. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  12. ^ Maslin, Janet (July 27, 1985). "Film: National Lampoon in Europe". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  13. ^ "National Lampoon's European Vacation". Variety. 1985. Retrieved December 19, 2012.