The first time the Griswolds took a trip, moviegoers everywhere went along for the ride…and went bonkers! Now they’re into even zanier sightseeing in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, directed by Amy Heckerling (Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High). Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo return as Clark and Ellen, winners of a European tour on which their teenagers Rusty (Jason Lively) and Audrey (Dana Hill) join them. Deluxe accommodations…aren’t. Clark tries left-sided English driving, leaving Stonehenge unhinged. In Bavaria a slap-dancing polka turns into a slaphappy free-for-all. It’s a wacky, wide world of holiday road havoc!
After winning a tour package in a game show, the bickering Griswald family carve a trail of destruction through England (where they knock over Stonehenge), France, Germany, and Italy. Somehow Ellen (Bevery D'Angelo), the mom, gets kidnapped by gangsters, leading to a car chase that reunites the family, despite their differences. It's hard to believe that National Lampoon's European Vacation is only the second of the Vacation movies; it has the exhausted pallor of the last of a long series of sequels, drained of all zest or original ideas. The charmless smirk of Chevy Chase, mechanical in its idiocy, hangs over European Vacation like a death mask. It's hard to believe that this hack was once the funny and sexy hero of Foul Play. D'Angelo keeps her chin up and gives the movie whatever class it may have; she deserves better. --Bret Fetzer