European Vacation (1985) – Review

2 Stars

European Vacation has the elements for a classic comedy and greatly disappoints. The writers go through the motions while failing to further develop the characters, and often sticking them in stock sit-com situations. It’s a boring film, the first Vacation had the pay-off of Wally-world at the climax, this sequel just lays there on the screen rather listless. The filmmakers have taken the edges off the picture and softened up the material to make the Griswolds more accessible to family audiences. There is no sexpot attempting to woo Clark from his loyal family, only assorted rude Europeans making life miserable for the ever-traveling Americans.

The Griswolds, that lovable middle-class family from the Chicago suburbs headed by patriarch Clark (Chevy Chase), stumble across Europe with less comedic success than was the case on their summer tour of the Unites States a few years earlier. After winning a European vacation on a hit game show, the family is off to see England, France, Germany, and Italy. Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) becomes a sensation after a home-made video tape falls into the hands of a porno distributor. Rusty (Jason Lively) partakes in the sexual and drug freedoms of European culture, while Audrey (Dana Hill) just wants to go home to be with her boyfriend.

This unsteady second installment of the Vacation series contains mostly uninspired humor of the slapstick variety. Guest appearance by Eric Idle livens things up momentarily as a mortally wounded bicyclist. The writing and direction isn’t as clean as the great direction from Harold Ramis and script from John Hughes in the last outing. Undoubtably, this is the low point in the Vacation franchise.

Director: Amy Heckerling
Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Jason Lively

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