Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Dana Hill
Director: Amy Heckerling
Running Time: 95 mins
National Lampoon’s European Vacation is an American film following the Griswold family on a chaotic tour across Europe after they won the holiday of a lifetime on a gameshow.
While it might not be as iconic as the original, I have to say that I actually enjoyed European Vacation even more than Vacation. Not only another entertainingly light-hearted affair, the film delights with a great blend of fun-loving stereotyping and self-deprecating humour, while leads Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are more lovable than ever.
As a film designed entirely to make you laugh, there’s not much to dislike about European Vacation. It’s not the world’s most ingenious piece of comedy, but it’s a fun-loving, bright-eyed movie that’s just there to give you a good time.
And for the most part, it really does just that, with the Griswold family hopping across the pond for two inevitably chaotic weeks in Europe. But where their vacation turned sour back in the States, their European holiday doesn’t ever devolve into quite as irritating a series of events.
Though the film misses out on the increasingly enraged Clark Griswold, there’s something more entertaining about watching a more optimistic version of the character try to smile through mishap after mishap.
A comedy of errors at its best, European Vacation also delights with a really nice level of stereotyping humour, poking fun at typical American perspectives on various European countries, as well as a rare dose of self-deprecating American comedy too.
It’s not often we see Hollywood movies really poke fun at what it means to be an American, and although this film too finishes on a fairly patriotic note, the comedy is always tinged with a hint of brilliant sarcasm that laughs at the behaviour of the Griswold foursome as they fumble their way about the European continent.
Another big plus here comes in the form of the performances. As I mentioned, Chevy Chase’s character is given a more optimistic streak, and makes him far more enjoyable to watch than both Vacation and Christmas Vacation.
Beverly D’Angelo, meanwhile, is given more to do than last time out, and takes the opportunity with both hands by giving a wonderfully upbeat and genuinely funny performance that marks her out as more than just Chase’s sidekick.
All of that is what makes European Vacation a really rather fun film to watch. Of course, it’s not the world’s greatest movie, and even some of its jokes fall pretty flat throughout. However, with light-hearted and upbeat energy throughout, the movie proves a genuine delight all the same, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4 overall.