Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

National Lampoon’s European Vacation


Pondering why this third movie in the Vacation franchise just didn’t work, I eventually found the main reason. In comedy, timing is everything. Nothing in this movie is timed well. Scenes go on too long, the punch lines get misplaced. Other reasons: the filming and editing is amateurish. You may not be aware of it, but your eyes are telling your subconscious that this thing just isn’t as polished and professional as most Hollywood movies.

The writers and directors also don’t know how to set up a joke. Example: Clark makes a videotape of his wife clowning around with a towel wrapped around her. Then he sets the camera down and they make love. We dolly in on the camera, to make sure we understand the camera is running. Later, the camera is stolen, and wife asks hubby “You erased that tape, didn’t you?” He assures her he did. We know he’s lying. This scene was not needed at all, it just hammers it home that something awful will happen with that tape. Finally they come across a billboard advertising a porno movie, with wife’s face prominent. So amateurish! A good director would not have lingered on that camera. It might have come as a surprise later on, instead of being thunderously telegraphed. And instead of a billboard, how about the film showing up on a porno channel in the hotel?

By the end we are getting an unfunny slapstick car chase, accompanied by Benny Hill type music. Oh, god, it’s just dreadful.