Very recently, I collected almost all the songs from the soundtracks of National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985). I knew I wanted to write about one of the two this week, but couldn’t decide which one. So I asked my tweeps and Facebook friends to pick one or the other, not telling them why I made the request.
Winning with almost 100 percent of the vote was European Vacation. Some of my pals provided their favorite quote from the movie along with their vote, the most popular being, “Dad, I think he’s gonna pork her!” I can’t ignore what the people want, so the Griswolds in Europe it is. (Don’t worry, Vacation ’83 fans — I’ll write about it soon enough.)
Written by our old pal John Hughes and directed by Amy Heckerling ( , ), European Vacation follows the Griswold family — Clark (Chevy Chase), Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and their kids Rusty (Jason Lively) and Audrey (Dana Hill) — as they head off on a whirlwind [insert title of movie], which they won on the completely ridiculous game show “Pig in a Poke.” They make stops in England, France, Germany, and Italy, leaving a trail of injury, damage, and general confusion wherever they go.
This is one of those movies where I don’t think a plot synopsis would do it any justice. If you haven’t seen European Vacation, just know that it’s chock-full of physical humor and hilarious, quotable lines. One that my family and I still bring up if we’re out driving and we get lost and keep passing the same scenery is: “There’s Big Ben! And there’s Parliament!”
In lieu of said synopsis, here are some fun facts and observations about the movie and its cast:
- William Zabka, best known for playing shithead bullies in films like The Karate Kid, Just One of the Guys, and Back to School, plays Audrey’s boyfriend, Jack. I always thought he and Dana Hill made an odd yet fascinating pair.
- Sadly, Hill, who had been suffering from diabetes since childhood, died from the disease in 1996 at the age of 32.
- Jason Lively is the brother of Robyn Lively, of fame.
- The actors who played Audrey and Rusty in the first Vacation, Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall, were asked to return for the sequel, but Hall turned it down to star in another John Hughes-penned movie, . Rather than just recast the role of Rusty, the producers decided to recast both siblings. Barron returned to the franchise, however, for 2003’s TV movie Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure.
- Moon Zappa makes an appearance as the American girl Rusty meets in Rome. Oddly, I never noticed that until recently. (Clearly not on top of my game.)
- This is the only Vacation film out of the five in which Randy Quaid doesn’t appear as Cousin Eddie. Just imagine how different European Vacation would’ve been if Eddie had made the trip to Paris.
- In this film, the family’s last name is spelled “Griswald,” but it’s “Griswold” in all the other Vacation movies.
Let’s talk about the soundtrack. It’s very short, but pretty great. Of course it includes the Vacation theme, Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” I saw him perform the song, complete with dog barks at the end, during his 2006 tour to support Under the Skin. I was really surprised that it was a standard part of his set list on that tour, as I don’t think he’d performed it much in the past. “Holiday Road” was part of the encore at the show I saw, and it whipped the crowd into a complete frenzy.
Other fantastic songs featured on the European Vacation soundtrack include the Power Station’s “Some Like It Hot,” a song I’m not ashamed to admit I love; Dr. John’s “New Looks,” which sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard from him; Plastic Bertrand’s frantic, nutty “Ã‡a Plane Pour Moi”; and the excellent dance track “ProblÃ¨mes d’Amour” by Alexander Robotnick.
Below is the entire soundtrack minus one song. I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.
Lindsey Buckingham – Holiday Road
Danny Gould – “Pig in a Poke”
Beverly D’Angelo – “Big Spender”
The Power Station – Some Like It Hot
Cast of European Vacation – “The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Griswolds”
The Jam – A Town Called Malice
Alexander Robotnick – ProblÃ¨mes d’Amour
Plastic Bertrand – Ã‡a Plane Pour Moi
Dr. John – New Looks
Network – Back in America
The Power Station – Some Like It Hot (Extended Mix)
The only song I couldn’t find was “Baby It’s You, Yes I Am” by Danger Zone, so here’s the scene in which the song appears. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the movie, so I’m happy to post it:
Because I love this scene so much, you get to hear Dr. John’s “New Looks” twice: