National Lampoon's European Vacation

European Vacation is a 1985 American comedy film directed by Amy Heckerling and written by John Hughes (though he was not involved in the writing process and received credit due to leftover material from the first Vacation being used[4]) and Robert Klane, based on a story by Hughes. The second film in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, it stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. Dana Hill and Jason Lively replace Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall as Griswald children Audrey and Rusty. After Hall declined to reprise his role (he decided to star in Weird Science instead), the producers decided to recast both children.

National Lampoon's
European Vacation
Theatrical release poster by Boris Vallejo
Directed byAmy Heckerling
Produced byMatty Simmons
Screenplay by
Story byJohn Hughes
Music byCharles Fox
CinematographyRobert Paynter
Edited byPembroke J. Herring
Release date
  • July 26, 1985 (1985-07-26)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million[2]
Box office$49.3 million[3]

The film is the only installment in the series in which the family’s name is spelled "Griswald", instead of "Griswold".


The Griswald family competes in a game show called Pig in a Poke and wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe. In a whirlwind tour of western Europe, chaos of all sorts ensues. They stay in a fleabag London hotel with a sloppy, tattooed Cockney desk clerk. While in their English rental car, a yellow Austin Maxi, Clark drives the family around the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout for hours, unable to maneuver his way out of the chaotic traffic. His tendency to drive on the wrong side of the road causes frequent accidents, including knocking over a bicyclist, who reappears throughout the film. At Stonehenge, Clark accidentally backs the car into an ancient stone monolith, toppling all the stones like dominoes, which they do not even notice as they happily leave the scene.

In Paris, the family wears stenciled berets, causing Rusty to be teased by young women at the Eiffel Tower observation deck. Clark offers to get rid of the beret for Rusty, but when he throws it away, another visitor's dachshund mistakes it for a Frisbee and jumps off the tower after it, landing safely in a nearby pond. The family's video camera is stolen by a passerby whom Clark had asked to take a picture of the family. Clark is also mocked by a French waiter for his terrible French. Later, Clark and Ellen visit a bawdy Paris can-can dance show, finding Rusty already there with a prostitute.

Next, in a West German village, the Griswalds burst in on a bewildered elderly couple, whom they mistakenly think are relatives but the couple ends up providing them dinner and lodging anyway, both not being able to understand the others' language. Clark turns a lively Bavarian folk dance stage performance into an all-out street brawl, after which, while fleeing, he hastily knocks down several street vendors' stands and gets their Citroën DS stuck in a narrow medieval archway.

In Rome, the Griswalds rent a car at a travel office, but unknown to them, the men in charge are thieves, holding the real manager captive. The lead thief gives them a car with the manager in the trunk, claiming he lost the trunk keys. The next day Ellen is shocked to discover that private, sexy videos of her from the family's stolen video camera have been used in a billboard advertising porn, leaving her completely humiliated. After screaming angrily at Clark (who had told her he had erased the video), Ellen storms off to their hotel, where she encounters the thief who rented them the car. She confesses her recent troubles, still unaware that he is a criminal. The man then tries to get the car keys, which are in her purse, but fails. When the police arrive at the hotel, he kidnaps Ellen, prompting Clark to rescue her.

On the flight home, Clark accidentally causes the plane to knock the Statue of Liberty's torch upside down.




Famous landmarks and sights appearing as the family tours England, France, West Germany, and Italy include:[5]

Other locations used in the film include:

  • Statue of Liberty (the torch of which their plane crashes into and knocks over)
  • Notting Hill, west London (where Clark runs over Eric Idle's character)

Scenes supposedly taking place in West Germany were actually shot in a German-speaking part of Italy (Brixen).


The musical score for National Lampoon's European Vacation was composed by Charles Fox, who replaced Ralph Burns of the first film. Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" was once again featured as the film's theme song, with many other contemporary songs included throughout the film.

  1. "Holiday Road" by Lindsey Buckingham
  2. "Some Like It Hot" by Power Station
  3. "Town Called Malice" by The Jam
  4. "Problèmes d'amour" by Alexander Robotnick
  5. "Ça plane pour moi" by Plastic Bertrand
  6. "Pig In a Poke" by Danny Gould
  7. "Baby It's You, Yes I Am" by Danger Zone
  8. "New Looks" by Dr. John
  9. "Back in America" by Network

Release and reception

Box office

The film opened July 26, 1985 in 1,546 North American theaters and grossed $12,329,627 its opening weekend, ranking number one at the box office.[6] After its initial run, the film grossed a total of $49,364,621 domestically.

Critical response

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 36% based on reviews from 25 critics, with an average of 4.7 out of 10.[7]

Janet Maslin of The New York Times thought positively of the film stating, "While it's very much a retread, it succeeds in following up the first film's humor with more in a similar vein." She added, "The film's best visual humor arises from the mere juxtaposition of European settings with the funny hats, T-shirts and soda cans with which the Griswalds announce their presence."[8] Entertainment magazine Variety gave the film a negative review explaining, "As the family of characters cartwheel through London, Paris, Italy and Germany - with the French deliciously taking it on the chin for their arrogance and rudeness - director Amy Heckerling gets carried away with physical humor while letting her American tourists grow tiresome and predictable. Structurally, the film unfolds like a series of travel brochures."[9]


  1. "NATIONAL LAMPOON'S EUROPEAN VACATION (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 10, 1985. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  2. Stuart, Jay (December 5, 1984). "Heckerling Took Stepping Stone Route From College To Big Time". Variety. p. 24.
  3. National Lampoon's European Vacation at Box Office Mojo
  5. 'National Lampoons Movie Locations and Now & Then photos' at YouTube
  6. "National Lampoon's European Vacation - Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  7. "National Lampoon's European Vacation". Flixster Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  8. Maslin, Janet (July 27, 1985). "Film: National Lampoon in Europe". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  9. "National Lampoon's European Vacation". Variety. 1985. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
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