National Lampoon's European Vacation
National Lampoon's European Vacation, originally released in 1985, was directed by Amy Heckerling. Starring in the film are: Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold), Beverly D'Angelo (Ellen Griswold), Dana Hill (Audrey Griswold), and Jason Lively (Rusty Griswold). European Vacation is the 2nd film in a series of four: it follows Vacation and precedes Christmas Vacation and Vegas Vacation.
After winning an all-expenses paid European vacation on the game show "Pig in a Poke," the Griswolds head to Europe to see London, Paris, Rome, and Clark's relatives in Germany. However, in true Griswold fashion, mishaps ensue. Clark struggles with driving in London, Rusty gets drunk in a show club in Paris, the family visits the wrong relatives in Germany, and Ellen is kidnapped in Rome. But in the end and despite everything, the family toughs it out and sticks together.
European Vacation is my least favorite in the Vacation series, though it does have it's moments, like the spoof of The Sound of Music. However, a few of the jokes fall flat, especially Eric Idle's reoccurring cameo as a guy whom Clark constantly injures. Rusty and Audrey, played by different actors in every film, are perhaps their worst here. Europeans are heavily stereotyped, as well. Surprisingly, I noticed that there were a lot of plot similarities between European Vacation and Vegas Vacation, though the later is much funnier.
European Vacation is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer fares well for a film nearing twenty years old, containing only a few print flaws, such as marks and specks. There is some slight grain, a few compression artifacts, and a touch of edge enhancement. Colors are natural throughout, with accurate flesh tones and decent blacks.
European Vacation is presented in Dolby 1.0 Mono in English and French. Dialogue is easy to understand throughout, though there is some slight distortion. Optional subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The main extra here is a screen-specific audio commentary with Chevy Chase. Despite frequent pauses, Chase manages to barely entertain with a few anecdotes from the set and stories on working with his costars. Unless you're a huge fan of Chase, I'd recommend skipping this.
Other extras include film highlights for five of the cast and crew and the film's trailer.
Perhaps the weakest film in the Vacation series has finally arrived on DVD. Thankfully, it has arrived in widescreen, though the presentation could have used some more work. Fans of the film should consider picking up the disc, though for most, a rental will suffice. Rent it.