Vegas Vacation

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Vegas Vacation
Vegas Vacation Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Kessler
Screenplay byElisa Bell
Story byElisa Bell
Bob Ducsay
Based onCharacters by
John Hughes
Produced byJerry Weintraub
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Edited bySeth Flaum
Music byJoel McNeely
Jerry Weintraub Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • February 14, 1997 (1997-02-14)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million
Box office$36.4 million (US)

Vegas Vacation is a 1997 American comedy film directed by Stephen Kessler. It is the fourth 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, Randy Quaid, Wayne Newton, Ethan Embry, and Wallace Shawn. The film opened at #4 at the box office and grossed over $36.4 million domestically.[1] Vegas Vacation is the first theatrical Vacation film not to carry the National Lampoon label or a screenwriting credit from John Hughes.


Clark Griswold works in the food preservative industry, and has invented a long-life food preservative, earning him a large bonus check from Frank Shirley. To celebrate, he announces to his family that he is taking them on vacation. Part of the reason for the trip is for Clark and Ellen to renew their wedding vows. Excitement wanes, however, when Clark says they are headed to Las Vegas. His wife, Ellen, and teenage daughter, Audrey, have their doubts, as Las Vegas is not known for its family-friendly atmosphere, while teenage son Rusty appears to be more enthusiastic.

Upon arriving in Vegas, the family embarks upon a series of misadventures. The Griswolds attend a Siegfried & Roy show, and they also visit Cousin Eddie, the husband of Ellen's cousin Catherine. Eddie and his family now live in the desert just north of Las Vegas, on what used to be a hydrogen-bomb test site. While on a group tour of the Hoover Dam led by guide Arty, Clark leaves the group after accidentally creating a leak in the dam's interior 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. The next night, they are surprised to find tickets to a Wayne Newton concert have been delivered to their hotel room, along with a dress for Ellen. They go to the concert, only to realize that Newton had sent the dress. While singing, he brings Ellen up on stage to sing with him, and visits at their table.

The next day, the family agrees to an "alone day" and are left to their own devices. Clark goes to a casino and becomes addicted to gambling, usually losing to a snide blackjack dealer named Marty, who enjoys Clark's humiliation. Rusty gets a fake ID from a Frank Sinatra look-alike and becomes a winning high roller, taking on the pseudonym Nick Pappagiorgio. Audrey starts hanging out with Eddie's free-spirited and gorgeous exotic dancer daughter Vicki and her friends. Ellen begins spending time with Wayne Newton, who has feelings for her.

Clark gambles away the family's $22,600 bank account, leading a furious Ellen and the kids to desert him. Rusty goes off gambling for cars, and wins four, while Audrey goes to a strip club with Vicki and gets a job as a go-go dancer. Eddie — who has money buried in his front yard — tries to come to Clark'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 Clark ends up gambling away Eddie's money too, causing him to re-evaluate his behavior. Clark then realizes he no longer cares about getting his money back, but needs to get his family back.

Clark then gathers up his family from around Vegas and they gamble their last two dollars on a game of keno. They sit next to an elderly man who compliments Clark on his family, and hints that he has been lonely all of his life. Out of sympathy, Clark tells the man to consider himself part of the Griswold family for the night. The man happily accepts Clark's offer, and both parties begin the game. At first, the Griswolds are optimistic, but as they realize they have already lost the game, they sit together in silence. Suddenly, the man next to them ecstatically declares that he has won the game. In his burst of joy, he suddenly begins to slip in and out of consciousness while Ellen sends Rusty for help. He revives long enough to whisper a message to Clark, before dropping his winning ticket and lapsing one final time.

Clark, confused, 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. As Mr. Ellis is carried away, a janitor approaches with a carpet cleaner, heading straight for the winning ticket on the floor. Though it appears Clark is going to allow it to be lost, at the last second, he slides the ticket out of the carpet cleaner's path. With their newfound winnings, Clark and Ellen renew their wedding vows.

Afterwards, Clark gives Eddie $5,000 to repay his kindness. 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.




Filming was initially scheduled to begin in Las Vegas in April 1996.[2] Filming was later scheduled to begin on May 29, 1996.[3] Most of the filming was expected to be done in southern Nevada, while approximately 10 days of work was planned for studios in southern California. Filming in Las Vegas was expected to last two and a half months.[4] Filming at Hoover Dam was underway in June 1996. One scene involved Chase's stunt double, John Robotham, swinging from a rope and slamming into the face of the dam. Film crews did several takes of the scene, which involved Robotham being attached to a series of ropes and bolts 637 feet above the dam's power plant.[5] Later that month, filming took place at Las Vegas' Chapel of the Bells, where the film's producer Jerry Weintraub and his wife Jane Morgan were married in the mid-1960s.[6] Weintraub appears in the film as "Gilly from Philly", the gambler who befriends Rusty.

Extensive footage was shot at The Mirage resort;[7] owner Steve Wynn closed portions of the property to allow for filming,[8] which included the resort's diving dolphins and its Siegfried & Roy show.[7] Chase filmed scenes involving the show's tigers in July 1996.[4][8] Filming also took place on soundstages at the Las Vegas Video Sound Film Production Center.[9] Scenes were also shot at Casa de Shenandoah, the home of entertainer Wayne Newton.[9] Other filming locations included the MGM Grand Las Vegas,[10] the Klondike Hotel and Casino,[11] O'Sheas Casino,[12] the Neon Museum,[13] and Fremont Street Experience.

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.[14]


Box office[edit]

Vegas Vacation was released to cinemas in the United States on February 14, 1997.[15] The film was later released on home video and to television.[16][17][18][19]

Critical response[edit]

Vegas Vacation received negative reviews. It has garnered a rating of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews. The critic consensus states, “The Vacation franchise hits rock-bottom in this corny and tepid trip to sinfully laugh-free city.”[20] The film was nominated for The Sequel Nobody Was Clamoring For at the 1997 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards but lost to Free Willy 3: The Rescue.[21]


  1. ^ Vegas Vacation Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Spring in Las Vegas means several film crews in town". Las Vegas Sun. March 6, 1996. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  3. ^ Beck, Marilyn; Smith, Stacy Jenal (April 11, 1996). "Producer Weintraub Embarks on New 'Vacation' with Chase". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Macy, Robert (July 24, 1996). "Chevy Chase no cool cat around giant tiger". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Macy, Robert (June 12, 1996). "Chevy Chase's stunt double no dam fool". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  6. ^ Archerd, Army (June 25, 1996). "Dean put his stamp on Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Shooting Stars". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 17, 1997. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997.
  8. ^ a b Archerd, Army (July 29, 1996). "Mouse sinks teeth into Chinese market". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Shooting Stars". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 10, 1997. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997.
  10. ^ "5 Things You Didn't Know About MGM Grand". Rolling Stone. December 15, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  11. ^ Koch, Ed (January 7, 2014). "Former owner of the Klondike 'saw opportunities to do things and then got things done'". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  12. ^ Cullen, Natalie (December 27, 2013). "O'Sheas Casino Reopens on Las Vegas Strip". KLAS-TV. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  13. ^ Mikkelsen, Ginger (October 12, 2001). "Glow of signs still felt". Henderson View. Archived from the original on July 17, 2002.
  14. ^ Jacob, Mark; Benzkofer, Stephan (June 19, 2011). "10 things you might not know about fictional fathers". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  15. ^ "Vegas Vacation". Box Office Mojo. 14 February 1997. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  16. ^ "No. 1 'Star Wars' Takes the Holiday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  17. ^ "National Lampoon's 'Vegas Vacation' Searches for Good Fortune". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  18. ^ "Chevy Chase, Gambling on a Good Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  19. ^ "Vegas Vacation". Variety. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  20. ^ "Vegas Vacation (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  21. ^ "The Stinkers 1997 Ballot". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Archived from the original on 18 August 2000.

External links[edit]