In 1983, National Lampoon released an iconic ‘family’ film, simply titled Vacation, that would go down in history as one of the funniest films ever made. This cult classic has, as of this week, spawned 5 sequels and a short film. But, it was this week 30 years ago that the first sequel was unleashed upon the world. That’s right. The Griswold’s went international. May I present, National Lampoon’s European Vacation.
You can check out the original trailer by Clicking Here.
By the time the original Vacation was released, I was already a die hard Chevy Chase fan. And, I had seen a little film called Six Pack, which was my introduction to Anthony Michael Hall. Together, the pair made an excellent father/son duo on their cross-country trek to Wally World. Hall did not return for European Vacation, opting instead for a string of hits with director John Hughes (The Breakfast Club and Weird Science). It is an odd feeling, at first, to adjust to the recasting of the Griswold kids (especially as their ages seem to fluctuate with every sequel). But, if you can suspend your disbelief, each sequel is enjoyable in its own right.
In this sequel, the Griswold family (spelled with an ‘o’ in every film, except for this one, where it is spelled with an ‘a’) win a game show called Pig in a Poke. Their prize? A grand tour of Europe. And, that is all you need to know about the plot.
Most people I know will swear up and down that Christmas Vacation was their favorite of the Vacation sequels. But, being the nostalgic person that I am, there will always be a special place in my heart for European Vacation. I think my family watched this movie a hundred times. It was on HBO fairly often. Also, we had a little vacation home on Putnam Lake in New York where we would spend weekends. The home had one small television, no cable, and a VCR. There were only ever three video tapes left at the house; Crocodile Dundee, Three Amigos, and European Vacation. My dad would watch them over and over. To this day, I can’t drive around a round-about without thinking “Look kids…Big Ben, Parliament.” Oktoberfest will always leave me reminiscing about Clark Griswold’s dancing slap-fest. This film also ensured that I would never wear a beret.
European Vacation is everything that you would expect from a Griswold adventure. It was somewhat of a rehash of the original film, but charming in its own right. The first film will always be my favorite. But, I’d still take European Vacation over any of the other sequels. I am looking forward to the new Vacation reboot that is due in theaters this week. At first, I was worried that they were just trying to remake the original. But, casting Ed Helms as an adult Rusty, who wants to revisit some of his youth by taking his own family on a vacation, seems like a plausible story. It’s nice, too, that the original parents, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, will reprise their roles. I may have to have a mini-Vacation marathon this week before seeing it. Do yourself a favor, though, and give European Vacation a re-watch.
Stay tuned next week when we hit the road, again, with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure!