National Lampoons European Vacation: Europe wont survive Chevy Chase and American family vacationers. Howl as they trigger chaos all over a continent in a gutbusting sequel matching the original in both high and low humor.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation: Make merry as the Griswolds including a pack of rib-tickling relatives played by an ensemble of comedy favorites strive to gift-wrap the “perfect Christmas” in the series most successful and enduring entry.
Vegas Vacation: Hit the comedy jackpot with the Griswolds when their next stop is Las Vegas and the jokers are at their wildest as goofy Cousin Eddie and an amorous Wayne Newton get caught up in the hilarious hijinks.
Vacation paved the way for the John Hughes movie dynasty of the 1980s. Written by Hughes (who would go on to write, direct, and/or produce The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, and so on) and directed by Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Stuart Saves His Family), the first Vacation movie introduces us to the all-American Griswold family: father Clark (Chevy Chase), mother Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), son Rusty (future Hughes staple Anthony Michael Hall), and daughter Audrey (Dana Barron). They all pile into the car for a cross-country road trip to Walley World, stopping along the way to view the world's biggest ball of twine. John Candy, Imogene Coca, and Randy Quaid (as yokel Cousin Eddie) pop up along the way. The movie was a big hit, and was followed by several sequels--National Lampoon's European Vacation, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation--but this one is still probably the freshest and funniest of the bunch. --Jim Emerson
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the casino, along comes the Griswold family from the popular series of National Lampoon's Vacation movies, raising a ruckus in the now family-friendly gambling capitol of the world. Clark (Chevy Chase), the bumbling Griswold patriarch, gets into his usual quota of trouble--especially on a sightseeing trip to the Hoover Dam (where puns on the word "dam" come fast, furious, and idiotic). Meanwhile, Mrs. Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo) gets to sing an ear-piercing rendition of "Lovin' You" on stage with her idol, Wayne Newton (one of the movie's comedic highlights), while son Rusty poses as a high roller and daughter Audrey trains as an exotic dancer. Randy Quaid reprises his scene-stealing role from the original Vacation movie, but let's face it--the series had already worn out its welcome, and this belated sequel earns a few good laughs but hardly qualifies as a worthy revival. Not bad as no-brainers go, but not up to par with the original film, and its better sequels like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. --Jeff Shannon
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
The third installment of the Griswold family saga is a significant improvement over their previous vacation (National Lampoon's European Vacation). Disaster-prone dad (Chevy Chase) discovers just how dangerous the Christmas season really is, as the Griswolds' old-fashioned holiday celebration turns out to be more "Bah! Humbug!" than Christmas cheer. Chase is right at home with the outrageous slapstick and often cheerfully tasteless humor, and John Hughes's script is stuffed full of classic Christmas movie references, but Randy Quaid practically steals the film as the unemployed relative with his malicious grin and mooching lifestyle. Not exactly a holiday classic and a bit spotty, but this gag-filled comedy is just obnoxious enough for the Scrooge lurking inside everyone. And fear not, a happy ending awaits all. Watch for future star Juliette Lewis as Chase's teenage daughter. --Sean Axmaker