Monstervision Host Segments For
National Lampoon's European Vacation
Recreational Geography 207 isn't offered at Harvard or Yale, so when you want a real education you gotta come to TNT's Summer School. No "Deconstruction and Diderot" or "Medieval Estate Law" here; we have useful subjects for your edification. So if you're traipsing around the country on Labor Day, be sure to take time and plop yourself and a gaggle of loved ones in front of TNT -- if you want those course credits from Professor Joe Bob Briggs.
Our first object of study in Recreational Geography 207 is a trip with America's favorite family. Nope, not the Cleavers or the Hardys or the Kennedys or even the Simpsons. You clever souls have guessed it (or read ahead): The Griswolds! Those almost lovable, laugh-a-minute folks with disastrous recreational outings are back for National Lampoon's European Vacation, the second in the popular series. (One source of unknown veracity tells us that the German title for the film translates as Help, the Americans Are Coming!)
After their trip to Wallyworld (in National Lampoon's Vacation), the Griswolds thought life held few surprises -- but that was before they won a free trip on a gameshow. Their eyes were then turned toward different shores, new ideas and old civilizations. Their tourist stops are England, France, Germany and Italy (with Luxembourg apparently saved for a yet-unmade European Vacation II), as the Griswolds' whirlwind journey takes them through Ye Olde Countries. Along the way they encounter French girls, the Eiffel Tower, confused Germans, Stonehenge (which they manage to topple) and the Queen of England.
The origins of National Lampoon's European Vacation are lost in the mists of time in a shrouded pre-history when primordial fish discovered their mutant legs had unexpected advantages, which of course was long before Mankind blew itself up and the apes took over. But we'll fast-forward a bit to the sharply satirical magazine National Lampoon, an offshoot of the venerable Harvard Lampoon. At some point, it occurred to Lampoon folk that movies can earn money and since they had a recognizable brand name and flocks of talented writers, it was time to get in on the action.
Thus we were graced in 1978 with National Lampoon's Animal House, and it was good. (1978 also saw the infamously unwatchable National Lampoon's Disco Beaver from Outer Space, which has apparently only been seen on a few cable outlets.) But more importantly, Animal House was a smash hit, making more Lampoon-titled films practically inevitable. And there've been a ton, mostly forgettable (know anybody who's seen National Lampoon's Class Reunion?), some heading direct for the video racks.
But at some point, a genius sifting through back issues of the magazine stumbled across a snarling little black comic story by an unknown writer named John Hughes about an average American family trying, through numerous disasters, to reach an amusement park for their vacation. Perhaps not natural material for a film, but it became one anyway. The resulting National Lampoon's Vacation (scripted by the soon-to-be-famous Hughes from his short story) was another hit, resulting in three sequels so far. National Lampoon's European Vacation came out the same year as his The Breakfast Club and Weird Science.
Of course it just wouldn't be the Griswolds without Chevy Chase returning as Clark Griswold (we learn his middle name this time: Wilhelm) and Beverly D'Angelo as his lovely wife Ellen. (D'Angelo once noted that they've been together longer than many real-life couples.) The Griswold offspring, however, won't look quite as you remembered them. This time, Rusty and Audrey are played by Jason Lively (Night of the Creeps) and the ill-fated Dana Hill (voices for Rugrats and Duckman; she died later at age 32).
The career of European Vacation director and Bronx native Amy Heckerling certainly had its ups and downs. She blasted off big time in 1982 with Fast Times at Ridgemont High before slipping on the misguided gangster spoof Johnny Dangerously. Since then there have been such commercial successes as the two Look Who's Talking films and the wonderfully substantial Clueless.
Since you're here to learn, we won't tell you about any trivia that might clog the clean flow of your notes. We won't tell you that the game show host is John Astin of Addams Family fame, which you probably already know anyway. We won't tell you about Eric Idle of Monty Python fame popping up on a bicycle. It's certainly not worth going on about Paul Bartel of Eating Raoul fame playing Mr. Froeger or Moon Unit Zappa of "Valley Girl" fame as Rusty's girlfriend. So, students, you'll just have to glean these tidbits by watching the film yourselves.
TNT's Summer School wants you to be prepared for any life experiences in Europe (unless of course you live there) by careful viewing of National Lampoon's European Vacation. Now here's Joe Bob with those Drive In totals:
Ten dead bodies. No breasts. Five jet collisions. Two plane crashes. One barroom brawl. Horse gymnastics. Motorcycle gymnastics. Chihuahua squishing. Electrocution. Head slamming. Funeral combat. Kung fu. Three and a half stars.
National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)
Monstervision Host Segments
LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Intro
Oh, my goodness -- is this
really the last night of Joe Bob's Summer School? Well, hack off my leg
and call me Peggy. I'm Professor Joe Bob, and tonight's class is
Recreational Geography 207, where we find out whether our first movie,
"National Lampoon's European Vacation," was just a good excuse for the
stars to go to Europe -- and we can DO that, because we have not only the
producer, Matty Simmons, as one of our guest lecturers, but we have the
world's most famous expert on travelling all over the world without paying
anybody for anything, the one and only Robin Leach. He'll stay with us for
this movie and maybe our second one, too, Dan Aykroyd and John Candy in
"The Great Outdoors."
Now. Speaking of vacations, I want you to
remember the one cardinal rule of all professional vacation-goers. [writes
on blackboard] "Do Not Structure Your Damn Time." Do you understand what
I'm saying here? For example, I have this friend Larry who's as rich as a
sitcom star, and so every year at this time he takes one of those European
cruises where you drink champagne every night and listen to bad cabaret
acts and occasionally get off the boat to look at some Madonnas or sit at
a seaside cafe with red-checkered tablecloths where you can guzzle the
local vino for thirty bucks a pop. And they have all kinds of "programs"
and "seminars" and "athletic activities" on board, so you can learn how to
be a real-estate agent or a professional shuffleboard coach or find out
who Marcel Proust was.
Now here's the interesting part. On his
daily schedule of all the "programs" and "seminars" and "cultural
activities," there's always a place marked "Free Time." Like there's time
that costs money, and then there's FREE TIME. But, no, that can't be what
it means, because it ALL costs money on a cruise, whether you CALL it free
or not. So what they mean is, there's PRISON time and then there's FREE
time. This is when the guy's ON VACATION! This is when he's in the one
place in the world where ALL the time is supposed to be
What's wrong here? When I was a kid, I'd go to these science
fairs where they had "labor-saving inventions of the future," and we were
all supposed to be working twenty-hour weeks by now. But what happened? We
invented all these labor-saving devices, everything got faster, and we
have two-thirds LESS "Free Time" than we had twenty years ago.
know why? Because of guys like Larry who CAN'T STAND IT. They go on
vacation and they're faced with this endless stretch of "Free Time," and
they start to go crazy with guilt and nervousness. There's some great
Yuppie Devil God in their gut crying out, "You could have done SEVENTY
HOURS of work in the time you spent hanging around the Parthenon and
chucking rocks in the Aegean. Your life is MEANINGLESS." And so they have
"Free Time." They work just as much as they do when they're back home --
they're getting an education, or they're becoming culturally enlightened,
or they're IMPROVING themselves -- and then, after they've done that, they
can just barely face that agonizing hour of "Free Time." They can suck
down a couple martinis without guilt, though, because they've just read
part of a book about Giotto. They can USE that Giotto someday. They'll be
talking to that West Coast sales rep who's into European art, and they can
just casually mention that magic word -- "Giotto" -- and pretty soon
they'll be bosom buddies for life.
But tonight we're gonna teach
you how to vacation right, by watching "National Lampoon's European
Vacation," the follow-up to the comedy classic "National Lampoon's
Vacation." "European Vacation" picks up as the Griswalds accidentally win
a gameshow and embark on their first trip overseas, where they run people
over, trash national monuments and make a general nuisance of themselves.
Check it out, and we'll have Robin Leach popping out here to join
[fading] Robin's gonna be slumming. Instead of doing
"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," he'll be doing "Lifestyles of the
Hard-Up and Obscure."
"NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Commercial Break
See, isn't this movie helpful as a travel tool? When
planning your European vacation, just beat Paul Bartel and his family on
"Pig in the Poke"! You know what's NOT a good sign, though? FOUR dream
sequences, and the movie's barely 20 minutes old.
Okay, let's not
dwell on that, because it's time to welcome our first guest-lecturer of
the evening, world-traveler extraordinaire, a guy who has been every place
via every mode of transportation. The one and only Robin Leach.
LEACH: How're you doing?
Welcome to Joe Bob's Summer
School. And all right, so here we are.
LEACH: Only two places in
the world I haven't been to.
Really. What are they?
haven't been to Burma, which is now called Myanmar and I haven't been to
Papua New Guinea, where in some parts there's still cannibalism
LEACH: I don't want to wind up . . .
You won't go there even to sample the cuisine? (LAUGHTER) All
right, so here we are watching a movie about a European vacation. I would
suppose that you have taken a vacation in Europe so many times that, well,
let me ask it this way. The Griswalds -- they just checked into this worst
hotel in London.
LEACH: The worst.
The worst. Have you ever
gone out to do like a journalistic piece as part of one of your shows and
ended up in some roach-infested nightmare?
LEACH: I tell you the only thing that was really
surprising to me in all my travels was in Cuba, where I went into a
bedroom and I was the only person in the bedroom. But there were eight
single beds in the bedroom. I wondered who the other seven friends
(LAUGHTER) were going to be for the night.
And who showed
LEACH: No, fortunately nobody. Not even cigar farmers. So that
was all right.
Or unfortunate. All right. Have you ever . .
LEACH:. . . And the bed I was given was the furthest from the
phone. That I never understood. (LAUGHTER)
What, you couldn't
switch beds? That was against the rules?
LEACH: No they wouldnt let
me switch beds. Against the rules.
Have you ever paid for anything
LEACH: Is that the traditional Joe Freeload
question? (LAUGHTER) Of course we've paid as we've gone around the world.
Weve done it at a travel agent discount but no, we pay. We have to --
that's the law.
Oh, even at the hotels . . .
that you're featuring in a show.
LEACH: Yeah. Yeah.
You have to pay. Favorite destination in
LEACH: In Europe, again it would be
LEACH: Just like the Griswalds wind up there,
the most spectacular country is Italy.
And so after all your
travels, its still good ol' Italy -- probably one of the most popular
tourist destinations in the world.
LEACH: Because they know how to
live, those people. They have such a great lust for life. You know, they
drink wine. They smoke cigars. They eat pasta. They don't care about
anything other than...
No smoking sections in a restaurant.
None of that stuff.
This is the la bon vie, as they say in France.
Of course most of
our audience can only dream about places like that 'cause right now
they're planning their trips to Six Flags over Bakersfield. (LAUGHTER) But
you probably do those kinds of trips too. Ever do, like, low budget trips?
Have you ever done that?
Never. (LAUGHTER) You've
LEACH: I dont, I dont . . .
never been to Six Flags have you?
LEACH: Yes, in Dallas.
were there? Okay, the original Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. You went
How did you like it?
roller coaster was great. And I went to the Six Flags in New Jersey with
Bob Pittman, who used to run it, and on the Batman and Robin ride. What
else would I go on?
You've experienced it. But I doubt if you
stayed at the Six Flags Inn across the street, did you?
And Motel Six is a strange name to me. (LAUGHTER)
All right. Let's
return to National Lampoons European Vacation and -- roll the film -- and
then we'll talk some more at the next break. By the way, Robin. My eagle
eye picked up Playboy Playmate of the Month for 1984 Tricia Lang as the
game show hostess at the beginning of the movie. Now, did you ever do any
Playmates on Lifestyles? That didn't come out right. Did you ever have any
Playmates as Lifestyles guests?
LEACH: I want you to try that even
one more time. (LAUGHTER) No, but we did feature Hugh Heffner up at The
Mansion, so a lot of the attractive, ah, decorations were hanging around.
So you went to the king?
LEACH: Well, yeah, or
the king came to the mountain. I don't know what that is but yeah, it was
-- that's a palace. Palace of pleasure.
Okay. I can imagine.
"NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Commercial Break #2
don't mean any disrespect to the late Dana Hill, but she doesn't really
seem right for this part. I think it would've worked better with that
kinda laid-back prettiness of the original Audrey, Dana Barron. Hey,
Robin, did I tell you I'm moving to El Lay?
like El Lay don't you?
It's one of your
favorite places. Can you introduce me to some girls?
LEACH: You won't have a tough time
handsome, tall, talented host. (LAUGHTER)
Don't bet on that, Robin.
Okay, let's get down to the nitty gritty all right? What are the best
party towns in the world? Where can you go if you just really want to tear
LEACH: New York is the greatest party town in the
Really? Right here in the USA.
LEACH: Then the
nightlife of Paris.
Okay. Paris. That's a big one.
used to be a great nightlife in Rome, but not so much any more since La
Dolce Vita quieted down. Monte Carlo is also good during the summertime in
San Tropez. And of course, in America, we have Las Vegas, which is the
party city of the entire world.
I need to start writing these down.
Where can you go if you just want to tear it up and you don't want anybody
in your immediate family to know what you did while you were
LEACH: About four thousand miles away.
miles away . . .
LEACH: Get four thousand away from the nearest
family member. (LAUGHING)
Yeah. And what, you findwhat city would
LEACH: It could be any city. You can have fun and games in
any city of the world.
Okay. But you know are there some that are
kind of like special in, you know, special cities for like that dark,
Paris is the best?
I would think so.
LEACH: As you see in this movie when
the Griswalds go off to the nightclub, they even find their own child in
the Crazy Horse.
Right. Well now, see, one reason I trust you,
Robin -- even before you were world famous, I would have trusted you
because you're English. And I trust the English guys on any kind of issue
like this about nightlife, because, well But one thing I do, I make it a
rule to never drink with English guys or at least try to drink as much as
they drink. (LAUGHTER) Because now we -- now listen, hear me out. Wouldn't
you agree, Robin, your countrymen do know how to put away cocktails?
(LAUGHTER). And you will drink 37 different kinds of cocktails at dinner
and sweet ones and everything and then at two in the morning somebody'll
say, But we haven't had an after-dinner liqueur yet! The English like many
many, many different kinds. Would you say this is true?
would say that's true.
Okay. (LAUGHTER) Well, all right, all
right. Well keep working on that party list as we return to National
Lampoon's European Vacation. Roll it. You know, the trouble with going to
those kinds of places is that you can't remember 'em when you get home
'cause somebody told me that. . .
LEACH:. . . they don't wish to
Well maybe that's good 'cause . . .
. . explains why there is heavy drinking.
I know, I know, 'cause
somebody told me one time that they spent three days with me at Mardi Gras
in 1985. I don't even remember even going there. (LAUGHTER)
We've forgot New Orleans.
LEACH: The greatest of
That's on the list. And it's naughty isn't
LEACH: I don't how you define that.
Oh, ho. Come on,
LEACH: There's no such thing as naughty.
then I do understand you. (LAUGHTER) The whole list was naughty.
"NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Commercial Break #3
Chevy Chase takes his famous pratfalls to the extreme and knocks down
Stonehenge. Ha ha ha. Lot of the gags in this movie don't really work, do
LEACH: No, it was the model that didn't work in the
That's true. It was kind of cheesy wasn't it?
Did you notice that as well?
Yes, I. . .
LEACH: That's a
lot of damage for a small English car to do that hardly backed up in
Yes. Okay, Robin, now we're in Paris. First thing . .
LEACH:. . . ooo la la . . .
Yes, we were just talking
about Paris. Now, first thing that comes to your mind well, first of all,
best hotel in Paris?
LEACH: Oh, the Ritz.
LEACH: Um, boy. Well, Taurus would say Maxims, but it
would be the new Alain Ducasse restaurant in Paris.
Alain Ducasse. Okay. Best place to see naked French girls?
Ah I would say, go to the Crazy Horse.
Really? Still, after all
these years . . .
LEACH: They change the show every three months so
. . .
LEACH: They change the girls every three
All right. I want to talk about Thailand.
favorite country in all the world.
LEACH: Yeah. I
Is Thailand really all its cracked up to be? You
hear so many people . . .
LEACH: Nicest people in the
LEACH: The most incredible food.
LEACH: Wonderful countryside. Wonderful Asian
How much does it cost?
LEACH: You can get there
LEACH: Depends how you want to
do it. If you want to go on a private, you know, G-5, it'll cost a lot of
money. But if you want to go as baggage on a boat, it'll cost very
Yeah (LAUGHTER) but you would never go as baggage on a
boat, I mean
LEACH: . . . I've only heard about doing those things.
The typical trip for you, though, I mean what would it
cost for a week? Bangkok?
LEACH: It makes a hard man humble. You
could do Bangkok on a very, you know, on a grandiose scale of under five
thousand for a week.
And what does that include? Hotel?
LEACH: Not the . .
. . . Okay.
LEACH: Not the air transportation. Then
Bangkok you could also do much more inexpensively because they have very,
very small hotels. And then, of course, if you wanted to go to any of
special places that Bangkok is somewhat known for (LAUGHTER).
that's kind of what I was gettin' at.
LEACH: You were getting to
the Thai massage.
LEACH: Was that what you were
Uh huh. Yeah.
LEACH: The two or three girls on
a rubber raft.
LEACH: And the swimming
Yeah. I go with that. (LAUGHTER)
You can actually stay
LEACH: I'm told its quite reasonable . . .
I would assume. (LAUGHTER) Well, and you could probably stay
overnight at those places.
LEACH: You can stay for as long as you
Oh, so like you just spend seven days there -- you don't even
need a hotel room. (LAUGHTER)
LEACH: That's one way to look at it.
All right. I'm gonna need your home phone number, Robin
(LAUGHTER), after this is over. Okay. That was an awfully short segment,
so let's get back to the movie. You ever need somebody to do, like, script
continuity on your crew or something?
LEACH: Are you offering?
Location scout. I'll be your (LAUGHTER) location scout. Yes, Im
LEACH: You're too tall to go to some of the places we go
Too tall to go to
LEACH: No. Not too tall to go there, but there are other
places where only the short make it.
Really? (LAUGHTER) I don't
even want to think about what you're talking about.
LEACH: I don't
want you to think about what I'm talking about. (LAUGHTER)
"NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Commercial Break
Well, that's a first. TNT is famous for holes in the
dialogue where the cuss words should go, but I've never seen em bleep the
subtitles before. And that scene where the dog jumps off the Eiffel Tower
--that's obviously a reference back to the scene in the ORIGINAL "National
Lampoon's Vacation" where they forget the dog is tied to the back of the
station wagon and they kill the little guy. So this time you THINK the dog
is gonna die, but then they go out of their way to show the dog swimming
to safety in the river. I mean, why is everything so much SOFTER in this
Yeah, it's really not very good, and it was written by John
Hughes, the guy who did "Breakfast Club" and all those famous movies in
"NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Commercial Break #5
we KNOW that Audrey misses Jack. We got that. But you probly DON'T know
that the guy who just played Fritz, the Bavarian relative, is the German
comedy legend "Willy Millowitsch." And you know what cut-ups the Germans
are. "Nehmen Sie meine Frau, bitte!" [Naymen-Zee miyna frow, bitta] You
know what that means? "Take my wife, please." See, wasn't funny. Anyhow,
it's getting crowded here at "Joe Bob's Summer School," we've got so many
experts hanging out with us. Robin Leach, the world's most experienced
tourist and traveller and . . . could I call you a libertine?
Matty Simmons, producer of the National Lampoon movies, who for many years
published and edited the funniest magazine in American history. Brian
McConnachie--funny writer. That sequence where they rush through the
Louvre. And then, of course, drinking out of the bedpan --that's always
GREAT for laughs. You know what's different about this movie, Matty?
There's no goal. In the first one, they had to get to Wally World, but in
this one, they're just kinda . . . travelling. I'm sure Robin would agree
with me. It's two against one. Did you tell John Hughes his script sucked
for that reason?
Okay, let's get back to the brilliantly conceived,
but less than brilliantly executed, neverthless financially successful,
"National Lampoon's European Vacation." Roll it.
"NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Commercial Break
Okay, Matty, what's with the extended SHOPPING MONTAGE? The
movie's almost OVER. And you're starting a Mafia subplot. What do you have
to say for yourself?
You know I'm moving to El Lay next week,
Matty? I might be able to get you hooked up. As you may know, all our
guest-lecturers get a book as a parting gift. We got you this one: it's
called "Matador." I figured you could maybe make "National Lampoon's
Okay, we're gonna watch the conclusion to
"National Lampoon's European Vacation," where we're finally gonna get some
plot, believe it or not. So, roll it, and then we'll come back and talk
some more to Robin Leach.
[fading] Do you think of Chevy Chase as
living out YOU on the screen, Matty?
"NATIONAL LAMPOONS EUROPEAN VACATION Outro
We just had the
entire plot of the movie in the last ten minutes, didn't we? Accompanied
by a little late-movie cameo by Moon Unit Zappa as Rusty's girlfriend. I
should point out that there was some in-fighting of how they were gonna
end that flick. Chevy Chase wanted it to be him sitting in front of the
fireplace saying, "It's good to be home." But Matty Simmons pointed out
that they were making a COMEDY, and then HE came up with what I think is a
pretty funny ending, which is that they're all relieved to be home, and a
guy with a camera crew knocks on the door, saying, "You've just won a trip
to the Great Wall of China!" And Chevy's really happy, and he turns to the
rest of the family, and they're all glaring at him, so he says meekly to
the guy, "What's second prize?" But Chevy Chase was so p.o.ed at Matty
that he'd ix-nayed HIS idea, that Chevy then ix-nayed Matty's idea, and
they had to go with Amy Heckerling, the director's idea, which was the
Statue of Liberty thing we just saw. And what do you expect from the
director of Look Who's Talking Too, the only flick we've ever given ZERO stars?
Since the age of ten, Robin Leach knew what he wanted to be when he grew up - a journalist. He loved writing and telling stories and by age 15 he was working as a general news reporter for The Harrow Observer in England. He moved on to the prestigious Daily Mail at the age of 18 to become Britain's youngest Page One reporter. In 1963 he emigrated to America where he eventually became the show business editor of The Star for ten years. He began reporting for morning shows on KABC-TV in Los Angeles and WABC-TV in New York and in 1980 joined CNN's People Tonight.
He also reported for Entertainment Tonight for its first three years and in 1983, Leach launched his most popular television venture, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which ran for an unprecedented 13 seasons in over 30 countries around the world. Other notable accomplishments include his cookbook, Entertaining With the Rich and Famous and the cable-tv series, Gourmet Kitchen and Travel Secrets. Leach is currently working on a new series, Heroes America, for the USA Network and he has made cameo movie appearances in such films as The Last Horror Film, Troop Beverly Hills and She-Devil.
The publisher and one of the original founding fathers of National Lampoon magazine, Matty Simmons has kept busy for the last two decades as a movie producer, creating boxoffice blockbusters like National Lampoon's Animal House and National Lampoon's Vacation. He is also the author of If You Don't Buy This Book, We'll Kill This Dog! Life, Laughs, Love & Death at National Lampoon which is probably the most complete history of the infamous magazine, describing in detail the ill-fated take-over of the Lampoon by actor Tim Matheson and Dan Grodnik and their subsequent sale of the magazine to J2 Communications. Simmons also served as producer on the television series, Delta House (which actually predated the movie Animal House, but the network geniuses left the pilot script on the shelf until the hit movie suddenly renewed their interest). Other notable films include National Lampoon Goes to the Movies, National Lampoon's Class Reunion, National Lampoon's European Vacation,
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (see below) and National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation.
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