National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • The Griswolds win a vacation to Europe on a game show, and thus pack their bags for the continent. They do their best to catch the flavor of Europe, but they just don't know how to be be good tourists. Besides, they have trouble taking holidays in countries where they CAN speak the language...

    - Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>
  • In a game show called "Pig In A Poke," the Griswold family -- Clark, Ellen, Rusty, and Audrey -- accidentally wins a trip to Europe, winning against a family that had previously never been defeated on this game show, which is hosted by Kent Winkdale. Just before the trip, Clark makes an erotic videotape of Ellen, promising to erase the tape later. Clark likes the game show's itinerary of what they are scheduled to do in Europe, but Ellen and the kids don't feel the same way. They begin their trip to Europe in London, England, where they stay in a ratty hotel. Clark has problems learning how to drive European cars, which have the steering wheel on the right side instead of the left. In London, the Griswolds see things like Big Ben, Parliament, and Buckingham Palace repeatedly because Clark cannot figure out how to exit a circular "roundabout" intersection. Audrey misses her boyfriend Jack so much that she wants to go back to Chicago. Clark is oblivious to how his family feels as he takes the family to see places such as Stonehenge, which Clark accidentally knocks down by backing a rented car into it. The trip to Europe then moves from London to Paris, France, where Clark has a Frenchman use the camcorder to tape the Griswolds near a water fountain, but the Frenchman steals the camera, with a videotape inside of it. In Paris, the Griswolds visit the Eiffel tower. The hotel room they check into in Paris is better than the one they had in London. The Griswolds visit the Musée du Louvre, then Audrey gets a letter from Jack, saying that Jack has been seeing Audrey's best friend Debbie while Audrey is in Europe. The next stop for the Griswolds is Germany, to visit their long-lost relatives Fritz and Helga, but they end up at the wrong house and mistake this house's residents for their relatives. Nevertheless, they have a nice visit. Next, the Griswolds visit a festival where Clark joins in on some German dancing that he has no idea how to do. Not surprisingly, the dancing ends with a fistfight. The Griswolds get on a train to Rome, Italy, but on the way there, they get off the train to go to the traveler's-check office, but they are greeted by a pair of men who they don't know are robbing the place. After getting $3,000 from the place, the Griswolds get a car from the same two men, who have placed the clerk in the trunk of the car. The Griswolds make their way into Rome, where they buy new clothes and Ellen sees a picture of herself on a billboard -- the thief who stole their video camera has been selling copies of the erotic tape of Ellen, which Clark forgot to erase, and Ellen is livid. The two thieves who robbed the traveler's-check office show up in Rome, and one of them, who has fallen for Ellen, kidnaps her. Audrey sees them leaving, and Audrey and Clark set off to rescue Ellen.

    - Written by Todd Baldridge
  • In a game show, the family Griswold wins a trip to Europe. They set out for Britain, France, Germany and Italy, ignorant to the damage they do to other people: In Britain Clark has slight problems adapting to driving on the left side, runs several people over and accidentally knocks over Stonehenge in reverse gear. In Germany, they visit the wrong relatives and are chased by angry 'Schuhplattl' dancers. Finally, in Rome, they unknowingly help robbers in a hold-up and then Ellen gets kidnapped... simple jokes, always following the same scheme.

    - Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
  • When the Griswolds accidentally win the grand prize on the "Pig in a poke" TV show, a trip to Europe for all of them, they happily decide to go. But the family's name would not be Griswold if everything went without complication. In London, they see Big Ben and Parliament extensively, but only after Clark learned to drive on the left side by not doing so; in Paris, Rusty's hormones disastrously spring to live; in Germany, the Griswolds visit the wrong relatives and in Italy, the family gets in touch with crime and a videotape that was in the camera that was stolen back in Paris. In addition, Audrey, who is in love with less-caring beau Jack, keeps ringing up the phone bill, Rusty keeps hitting on girls and Ellen keeps keeping them all together when times are bad.

    - Written by Julian Reischl <julianreischl@mac.com>
  • The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues.

    - Written by Kenneth Chisholm


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