With “European Vacation” (1985), the first sequel to “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), we’re forced to conclude that either 1, John Hughes is capable of writing bad stuff, or 2, he handed off most of the duties on this one. He’s credited with the story and co-credited on the screenplay with Robert Klane (“Weekend at Bernie’s”). Amy Heckerling (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Clueless”) directs, and this is likewise not one of her finer credits.
National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983) both makes fun of and lauds the archetypal dad who wants to show his family a fun time but runs into a building stream of annoyances and gradually loses his mind. Writer John Hughes shows love and sympathy for this type of person, and has the perfect actor to embody Clark Griswold in Chevy Chase.
National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” came out 30 years ago this month, and it has only grown in status as a holiday classic since. Here are 30 random observations after my latest viewing:
The fifth theatrical release in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” series – which confusingly has the exact same title as the first entry — has enough laughs to be worth a rental (it’s now available from Redbox). But it’s not destined to be a classic in the vein of “Christmas Vacation” (1989), which many people will screen as per holiday tradition this month.
Here’s how influential John Hughes was: I’m writing a blog post about the late writer-director (he died on Thursday of a heart attack at age 59) and I wasn’t even a huge fan. But he played an indirect — though easily traced — role in shaping my movie and TV tastes.