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Vegas Vacation

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Vegas Vacation
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
Warner Bros. Pictures
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 in his feature directorial debut. 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. It tells the story of Clark Griswold taking his family to Las Vegas to renew his vows to Ellen as the series' usual hilarity occurs. 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. Also, this is the only National Lampoon film to be released in the 1990s and the final film released before National Lampoon magazine folded. this was also the last Vacation movie to be released until New Line Cinema, a production company of Warner Bros, produced a reboot that was released 18 years later in 2015.



After the food preservative that keeps perishable items fresh for years which he helped make has been approved, Clark Griswold earns the bonus promised to him in the previous film from Frank Shirley. He announces to his family that he is taking them on vacation to celebrate and renew wedding vows with his wife Ellen. Excitement wanes, however, when Clark says they are headed to Las Vegas. 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 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 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 becomes separated from the group after accidentally creating a leak in the dam's interior walkways and is forced to climb the scaffolding to the top of the dam to get out. The next night, they are surprised to find that 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 sent the dress. While singing, he brings Ellen on stage to sing with him and visits 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. Rusty buys a fake ID from a Frank Sinatra look-alike and becomes a winning high roller. Audrey starts hanging out with Eddie's free-spirited exotic dancer daughter Vicki and her friends. Ellen spends 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 wins four cars from four separate slot machines, 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. Clark and Eddie go to a casino to get their money back, but Clark gambles away Eddie's money too. He then realizes he no longer cares about getting his money back but needs to get his family back.

Clark gathers 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 lost, they sit together in silence. Suddenly, the man next to them declares that he has won the game. In his burst of joy, he slips in and out of consciousness while Ellen sends Rusty for help. He revives long enough to whisper a message to Clark. Clark, confused, tells Ellen that the man said "take the ticket.” When the casino security guards and paramedics arrive, they declare the man dead. They tell the Griswolds that his name was Mr. Ellis and he would have given anything for a friend.

With their newfound winnings, Clark and Ellen renew their wedding vows in the presence of Eddie's family. Clark then gives Eddie $5,000 to repay his kindness. The Griswolds 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.







John Hughes did not return for Vegas Vacation, as he did not have any further National Lampoon stories to adapt, as he had with the original Vacation. He also had shown dissatisfaction with how the series had essentially turned into a star vehicle for Chevy Chase and noted that Warner Bros. had never even told him that they were making the movie, only hearing about it by reading a trade magazine. When approached by disappointed fans, Hughes insisted that he "had nothing to do with it!"[2]

Filming was initially scheduled to begin in Las Vegas in April 1996.[3] Filming was later scheduled to begin on May 29, 1996.[4] 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.[5] 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 dam face. 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.[6] 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.[7] Weintraub appears in the film as "Gilly from Philly", the gambler who befriends Rusty.

Extensive footage was shot at The Mirage resort;[8] owner Steve Wynn closed portions of the property to allow for filming,[9] which included the resort's diving dolphins and its Siegfried & Roy show.[8] Chase filmed scenes involving the show's tigers in July 1996.[5][9] Filming also took place on soundstages at the Las Vegas Video Sound Film Production Center.[10] Scenes were also shot at Casa de Shenandoah, the home of entertainer Wayne Newton.[10] Other filming locations included the MGM Grand Las Vegas,[11] the Klondike Hotel and Casino,[12] O'Sheas Casino,[13] the Neon Museum,[14] 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.[15]



Box office


Vegas Vacation was released to cinemas in the United States on February 14, 1997.[16] The film was later released on home video and to television.[17][18][19][20]

Critical response


Vegas Vacation received negative reviews. It has garnered a rating of 15% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews. The critic consensus states, “The Vacation franchise hits rock-bottom in this corny and tepid trip to sinfully laugh-free city.”[21] According to review aggregation website Metacritic, which it was assigned a 20 out of 100 based on 10 reviews, the film received “generally unfavorable reviews.”[22] 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.[23]

See also



  1. ^ Vegas Vacation Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Spring in Las Vegas means several film crews in town". Las Vegas Sun. March 6, 1996. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  4. ^ Beck, Marilyn; Smith, Stacy Jenal (April 11, 1996). "Producer Weintraub Embarks on New 'Vacation' with Chase". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Macy, Robert (July 24, 1996). "Chevy Chase no cool cat around giant tiger". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  6. ^ Macy, Robert (June 12, 1996). "Chevy Chase's stunt double no dam fool". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Archerd, Army (June 25, 1996). "Dean put his stamp on Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Shooting Stars". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 17, 1997. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997.
  9. ^ a b Archerd, Army (July 29, 1996). "Mouse sinks teeth into Chinese market". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Shooting Stars". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 10, 1997. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997.
  11. ^ "5 Things You Didn't Know About MGM Grand". Rolling Stone. December 15, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Cullen, Natalie (December 27, 2013). "O'Sheas Casino Reopens on Las Vegas Strip". KLAS-TV. Retrieved April 6, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Mikkelsen, Ginger (October 12, 2001). "Glow of signs still felt". Henderson View. Archived from the original on July 17, 2002.
  15. ^ Jacob, Mark; Benzkofer, Stephan (June 19, 2011). "10 things you might not know about fictional fathers". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  16. ^ "Vegas Vacation". Box Office Mojo. 14 February 1997. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  17. ^ "No. 1 'Star Wars' Takes the Holiday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  18. ^ "National Lampoon's 'Vegas Vacation' Searches for Good Fortune". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  19. ^ Gelder, Lawrence Van (15 February 1997). "Chevy Chase, Gambling on a Good Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  20. ^ "Vegas Vacation". Variety. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  21. ^ "Vegas Vacation (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  22. ^ Vegas Vacation, retrieved 2021-12-14
  23. ^ "The Stinkers 1997 Ballot". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Archived from the original on 18 August 2000.