European Vacation

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The Grizwald’s are back! In the follow-up to the hit "Vacation", this time the family is taking on Europe. After winning it big on the game show "Pig in a Poke" in which we see our favorite family dressed up as pigs, chance has it that Clark, Ellen, Rusty and Audrey manage to score a trip to London, Paris and Rome. Essentially, this is the same formula that worked so well in the original, but this falters on many counts. I’ll explain them here. While the original had Clark as more of a "man possessed", Chase seems to just be going through the motions here. Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), though beautiful, doesn’t have a lot to work with here as this was the mid 80’s and Chevy Chase was supposedly at the top of his game. And what of Mr. Chase? He really only had a few good movies under his belt and has just seemed to get less and less funny. While he found a bit of success with Goldie Hawn in "Seems Like Old Times" and "Foul Play", he did manage to make me laugh in my all-time favorite movie, "Caddyshack". He then had "Vacation" and in my mind, peaked with "Fletch". So now what?

Now, we are forced to sit through the movie watching Clark make a total ass of himself (one of the few things he does well). I do like Director Amy Heckerling’s work in "Johnny Dangerously" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and I hear "Clueless" was pretty good, though I vowed never to see it. So we have a semi-talented cast, a good director who we know can make us laugh, but I was always asking myself "What went wrong…". The kids, Rusty (Jason Lively) and Audrey (Dana Hill) are obviously different from the original two. For some reason, throughout the course of the four movies, they have never been played by the same actors and are always of varying ages (I think Rusty actually decreases in age from European Vacation to Christmas Vacation)! Put that aside and you do have a few funny moments with Chase doing his usual bumbling idiot, physical humor.

I’m a big fan of the Vacation movies, minus this one. I even found Vegas Vacation to have a lot more comedy than this. Ironically, this movie is the only one in the series that Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) doesn’t show up in, and it’s the worst of the series. Coincidence? There’s also the question of what took so long for this to come to DVD (granted, by my comments, now that it’s here I still don’t like the movie that much)? Vegas Vacation, Christmas Vacationa and the original Vacation were among the first DVD’s produced…ever; so four years later we finally have the complete set. Is this a good thing? Judge for yourself. While European Vacation promises and to an extent, does deliver more of the same humor…it’s just not that funny. Few moments do arouse some chuckles, but for the most part, you’re better off watching one of the other "Vacations".

Video: How does it look?

Ironically, the worst of the series has the best transfer of them all. But it’s the only “Vacation” movie to be presented in anamorphic widescreen. While Christmas, Vegas and the original Vacation are full-frame only. Still, the image has it’s faults, but the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer does make this movie look it’s best. The opening scenes do look very grainy, so I was hoping that it wasn’t an indication of what was to come (image-wise, anyway), and thankfully it wasn’t. Some artifacting, a bit of edge enhancement is apparent, but other than that, there’s not a lot to complain about here. It’s not the best-looking transfer out there, but looks a lot better than the other members of this series.

Audio: How does it sound?

Mono. Not much else to say, except that it delivers the goods. I seem to recall that the original Vacation was in Dolby Surround and was made a few years before this. Doesn’t make much sense to me, then again I consider the movie! Some scenes do have a very robust sound to them, and in all honesty, this didn’t sound like a mono track. We get to hear all of the Grizwald’s arguments, Audrey’s gum-smacking and all of Ellen’s "Clark…" Indeed, there is not much else to say here, mono is as mono does.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Yes, there is indeed a feature-length commentary by Chevy Chase. The track is almost as bad as the movie, Chase seems very proud of his work here and laughs at his own jokes, tells of how he wore mainly his own clothes on the filming and tells of how he enjoyed working with the actors and so on. Quite frankly, it’s not even worth a listen. I find Chase funny, but listening to him say lines like "Would you like it here or in the can" (referring to his on screen line) and his comment is "That’s a great joke". Sorry, I just couldn’t buy it. Some cast bios and a theatrical trailer are also included. While I totally bashed this movie, there are those who love it. So if you’re one of those people, then by all means…pick it up.

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