National Lampoon's European Vacation ★★★

Mal enjoyed watching the original Vacation a few weeks back, so it was a pleasant surprise when we found European Vacation was one of the free in-flight movie options on our way to PAX Prime this year. It's the next film in the franchise, chronologically.

It's been quite a while since I've seen this film, and I'm pretty sure I only ever watched it on television -- the unedited version has several scenes with nudity, which makes for an interesting flight experience, especially when the "In-Flight Announcement in Progress" freezes the screen on a shot full of bare breasts. Sorry, old guy giving me the evil eye from across the aisle.

Actually, "unedited" isn't quite right, though. Some profanity was clearly censored, but there was a bunch of other profanity that was not. It was almost as if a censored and uncensored version of the film got edited together. If you've ever watched the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, it was a similar experience to that. Very odd.

Anyway, if you enjoyed the original, you'll find more of the same here. I feel like, overall, the film isn't quite as funny as the first, but some of the individual gags are definitely funnier.

My biggest problem with the film is that it doesn't flow well. Something about the movie just feels off. Whereas the original Vacation felt as if it were edited smoothly and the scene transitions make sense, European Vacation feels scattered. At times, it seems like 3 different mini-movies (taking place in England, France, and Germany) were just sort of shoved together. Even within the individual countries, sometimes the scene changes come off as jarring or confusing. It's not that you can't understand the film as a whole, but it definitely could've been edited with more care.

Also, there's a "villain" who comes out of nowhere in the last 20 minutes of the film that I could've done without entirely.

Overall, fans of the original will enjoy European Vacation. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo are back (the kids are played by completely different people, but they actually change in every film and that becomes a running joke), and the humor is exactly what you'd expect. Plus, Monty Python fans will get a kick out of Eric Idle's recurring cameo throughout the film.