CHEVY CHASE made a name for himself on Saturday Night Live by Talling down a lot. At the beginning of each show, he would come on stage, fall down, get back up and say: "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night." That was funny--for at least the first thirty-five times he did it.
It was even funny when he did it in his early movies like Foul Play and Seems Like Old Times. But it may have been only because Goldie Hawn was there to hold him up.
For since then, many of Chase's movies have been falling down with him. While the novelty and stupidity of the first Vocation made it mildly successful and slightly humourous, it was certainly not fit for a sequel. European Vocation, less new and considerably dumber than the original, makes it all only too obvious: the sight of Chevy Chase and his family falling down in various countries is not inherently funny.
The movie features the good old Griswald family, back for another set of exciting adventures. Through an unlikely set of circumstances, they win a two-week trip to Europe on a TV quiz show called "Pig in a Poke." (For some reason, the contestants in the show must dress like pigs; but it is really asses that they must make out of themselves).
So, despite the reluctance of the two kids, off to England they go, with visions of greeting the Queen in their head, touristy American clothes on their bodies, and lots of "Pig in a Poke" money in their wallet.
The usual assortment of jokes surrounds Chevy's learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road, as do an inordinate number of accidents to upstanding British citizens--who for some reason don't mind having their car smashed up by the ugly American. Eric idle, who is truly funny, provides a bit of welcome relief as a bicycler who was silly enough to get in between Chevy and the road.
Needless to say, after a few days, the kids (played by Jason Lively and Dana Hill) are bored, and all of England is terrified of Clark Griswald. So it's off to France. But not before visiting Stonechenge--and, believe it or not, knocking the whole thing down accidentally by backing into one of the huge stones.
After a fairly uneventful stay in Paris (they see the entire Louvre in 15 minutes), the Griswalds move on to Germany. Here, Chevy, asshole that he is, decides he must dress in the lederhosen and suspenders traditional of the Oktoberfest he visits. One thing leads to another, and soon, Clark Griswald finds himself being chased by the entire country of Germany for starting a riot. As we find out from a St. Pauli girl whom young Rusty Griswald is molesting, the ringing bells signify that the town plans to hang Chevy.
A narrow escape lands the entire family in Rome without luggage or money for an even more unbelievable plot, which is too silly to bother going into. But as we have come to expect throughout this movie, Rusty will try to make it with some girl; Audrey (the youngest Griswald) will miss her boyfriend from back home: Chevy will try to see a lot of museums, sights, and landmarks (falling down all the while); while his wife Ellen (played by Beverly D' Angelo, who isn't much better here than she was in the original) acts in her usual non-persona, blindly following her bumbling husband.
OF COURSE AFTER FINISHING their, trip, (and finishing off half of Europe along the way) the Griswalds are ready to return home, with dreams of the good of U.S. of A in their heads, ridiculous-looking touristy Italian clothes on their bodies, and about half-a-dozen warrants for their arrest. And in the movie's monotonously silly vein Chevy causes the plane to dip and veer such that it knocks down the torch from the Statue of Liberty.
The movie does have its higher points, like a scene where a French waiter recognizes his easy American marks, and makes fun of the Griswalds while they order. As the subtitles inform the audience, he makes rude references to Ellen and Audrey, promises to bring two bottles of dishwater to the table instead of wine, and upon leaving, kindly in-forms them to fuck themselves while the Griswald's remain singularly impressed with their ability to communicate and assimilate into a foreign culture.
But the rest of this film is poor slapstick. Acting uncoordinated and uneducated for two hours may make you smile once or twice, but it just isn't funny. Chase's most successful film in recent months, rtetch teatured him as a clever journalist who played off of other people's stupidity rather than his own. Audiences want heroes these day, not dupes. That's why Eddie Murphy just bought his fifth Rolls. If Chase is to retain a respectable piece of the humor market, he should drop the meaningless, foolish and disjointed antics concentrating on outwitting others rather than prostrating himself. Don't bother with European Vacation.