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 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] Vegas Vacation became the first theatrical Vacation film not to carry the National Lampoon label or a screenwriting credit from John Hughes.


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. Excitement 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 enthusiastic. Upon travelling to Vegas, they run into the "woman in the Ferrari" (Christie Brinkley) who appeared in the first film. Clark is the only one who sees her, but then notices that she now has a child.

Upon arriving in Vegas, the family embarks upon a series of misadventures. The Griswold's visit 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 Hoover Dam led by guide Arty (John P. Finnegan), Clark 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 attend a Siegfried & Roy show.

The next night, tickets to a Wayne Newton 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 decides to be left to their own devices. Clark goes to a casino and becomes addicted to gambling, usually losing to a snidey dealer (Wallace Shawn) who enjoys Clark's humiliation. Rusty gets a fake ID from a Frank Sinatra look-alike (Toby Huss) 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 (Shae D'Lyn) and her friends. And Ellen begins spending time with Wayne Newton, who has feelings for Ellen.

Meanwhile, Clark gambles away the family's $22,600 bank account, causing Ellen to get upset and claim that they are not spending a "Family Vacation" together, and leaves. Then Russ and Audrey depart too. Russ goes off gambling for cars, and wins four. Ellen goes to eat with Wayne Newton, and Audrey goes to a strip club with Vicki, 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 Clark ends up running out of Eddie's money too. Clark then realizes he no longer cares about getting his money back, but he 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 take a seat next to an older man (Sid Caesar) who compliments Clark on his lovely 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 sombrely sit 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, 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, and commented on how sad his loneliness was to them. As Mr. Ellis is carried away, a janitor approaches with a carpet 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 carpet cleaner. With them winning the Keno game, Clark and Ellen get remarried. Afterwards, Clark hands Eddie $5000 and explains "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.



Vegas Vacation was filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the busy tourist season, from mid-June through late September 1996.[citation needed] Extensive footage was shot at The Mirage Resort, and included the resort's diving dolphins and its Siegfried & Roy show.[2] Other filming locations included Casa de Shenandoah, the home of entertainer Wayne Newton, who also appears in the film.[3] Scenes were also filmed at the Klondike Hotel and Casino,[4] and on soundstages at the Las Vegas Video Sound Film Production Center.[3]

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 Las Vegas crooner.[citation needed]

The Sid Caesar death scene is reminiscent of the Jimmy Durante death scene in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in which Caesar also starred. His character was one of the witnesses to Durante's character's death.

Release and reception[edit]

Vegas Vacation was released to cinemas in the USA on February 14, 1997.[5] To date, this is the only theatrical Vacation film to receive a PG rating, as all others are rated R (the original film and 2015's Vacation) and PG-13 (European Vacation and Christmas Vacation). The film was later released on home video and to television.[6][7][8][9]

Critical response[edit]

The film received negative reviews. It has garnered a rating of just 13% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews.[10]


  1. ^ Vegas Vacation Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Shooting Stars". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 17, 1997. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997. 
  3. ^ a b "Shooting Stars". Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 10, 1997. Archived from the original on July 19, 1997. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "Vegas Vacation". Box Office Mojo. 14 February 1997. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  6. ^ "No. 1 'Star Wars' Takes the Holiday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  7. ^ "National Lampoon's 'Vegas Vacation' Searches for Good Fortune". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  8. ^ "Chevy Chase, Gambling on a Good Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  9. ^ "Vegas Vacation". Variety. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  10. ^ "Vegas Vacation (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 21, 2011. 

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