Whatever you thought of "National Lampoon's Vacation," it united the talents of Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, John Hughes, John Candy, Randy Quaid and Anthony Michael Hall. "National Lampoon's European Vacation," on the other hand, unites the talents of . . . Chevy Chase.
Hughes gets a screen-writing and story credit, but the movie bears the mark of his hack cowriter Robert Klane and director Amy Heckerling, Hollywood's latest crashed meteor.
Whose vacation is it? Not ours.
The movie begins with an elaborately unfunny parody of a game show, during which the Griswalds win a trip to Europe. They go, and get into all kinds of hilarious scrapes. Clark (Chase, the Water Retention Poster Child of 1985) brushes his teeth in a bedpan! Clark gets in the left side of a car and asks, "Where's the wheel?"! Clark tries on a funny hat!
Those Hollywood people, they're, you know, gosh, I don't know, you know what I mean? They're just so darn creative.
Heckerling directs this mess with no sense of pace and less sense of where to put the camera. There are pixilated, MTV-style sequences that simply slow up the story, car chases and car crashes, and, of course, aerobicizers boinging out of their leotards. The best thing in the movie is the catchy theme from the last "Vacation," which, unfortunately, hasn't the slightest thing to do with Europe.
As the Griswalds return, crowing about how great it is to be back in the good ol' U.S. of A., the movie ends with a bizarre flag-waving montage of still photographs, snapshots of what's terrific about America. One of those snapshots is a portrait of Clint Eastwood from the poster for "Pale Rider," like "European Vacation" a summer release from Warner Bros. Product tie-ins now include other movies -- as hard as it is to believe, we've reached a new low.