Picks and Pans Review: National Lampoon's European Vacation

updated 08/12/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/12/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The notion that he's Chevy Chase and we're not seems more and more appealing. At least none of us is responsible for the string of sour comedies in which he has participated. This one is almost grim. It's a sequel to National Lampoon's Vacation and includes Chase as well as his "wife," Beverly D'Angelo, from the original with two new teenagers, Dana Hill and Jason Lively. They are supposed to be having a less than idyllic time on their European trip, but they overplay considerably. These whiny, unlikable actors often seem barely dutiful in their approach to dialogue that is, admittedly, about as funny as oatmeal. The only imaginative bit opens the film, when Chase and his family win their trip on a Family Feud-like TV show where greed and foolishness are the entertainment. John Astin sends up Richard Dawson's smoochy emcee, lusting after nubile female contestants. Once Chase and company get to Europe the best to hope for is a muddled travelogue. Chase is his smirky self, pausing after every line as if he's waiting to hear the laugh. Director Amy (Johnny Dangerously) Heckerling and co-writer John (Sixteen Candles) Hughes seem to have agreed that when their imaginations failed, they would use a car crash scene. There are many car crash scenes. (PG-13)

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