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[personal profile] innocent_man
European Vacation is the second the National Lampoon's Vacation series, and the best of them (at least the one's I've seen; haven't seen Vegas). We'll get to Vacation in a few years, but I've seen it and I don't recall being a fan.

Anyway, Chevy Chase plays Clark Griswold, a clumsy, not-too-bright but generally well-meaning schlub who lucks into a European vacation by winning a game show. He and his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and their kids Audrey (Dana Miller) and Rusty (Jason Lively, who it took the better part of the first act to remember was the star of Night of the Creeps) hit England, France, Germany and Rome and leave Europe in ruins along the way.

The comedy is dark-ish; mostly it's the Griswolds wrecking whatever area they happen to be in. Unlike Vacation, which had some teeth (people and animals died, man), this is pretty harmless stuff. Yeah, Eric Idle gets the shit kicked out of him, and yeah, Clark starts a brawl at a German street fest, but no one gets seriously or permanently injured. The main conflict, such as it is, is that Audrey wants to get home to her boyfriend, Rusty's trying to get laid, Clark is burning through Europe on the game show's schedule and the sex tape of his wife has gotten into distribution. Oh, and his wife gets kidnapped and held at gunpoint in a chase through Rome, but it seems almost an afterthought at that point. It's like the screenwriters realized they'd forgotten to include any kind of climax, and so they threw in a car chase at the end. Eh.

There are a couple of good laughs, but they don't come from dialog or character, just Chevy Chase tripping over shit (which is funny, granted). Once serious issue I had was that Audrey is obviously sexual (her boyfriend, by the way, is played by William "Sweep the Leg" Zabka, proving that he was in every movie in the 80s), but the actress looks about 10. This is especially noticeable in the opening scene when they're on the game show and the host (John Astin, being creepy as shit) kisses her. The actress was actually 21 when the movie was released, for what it's worth.

Like I said, it's not bad, but if I want classic Chevy Chase, I'll watch Fletch or Caddyshack.

My grade: C+
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: EuroTrip


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