As being more of a fan of European Vacation than its predecessor, I still rank the two films equally due to the fact that, although funnier, this sequel is terribly written.
The script is fine in terms of the humor–the jokes are funnier and more well-constructed, and the situations are seen all the way through to the end. But in terms of the plot, nothing is resolved. And in that aspect, it makes the sequel seem much more unnecessary.
In National Lampoon’s European Vacation, the Griswold family goes to Europe on a trip that they won on a game show. Antics ensue and the same sort of shenanigans that we see in the first Vacation film happen again.
I find myself laughing out loud more during European Vacation. The anticipation of the farce that we see in the first film makes for a more enjoyable experience all around. The characters handle the situations in much more realistic ways.
But it’s far from perfect. The plot is just stretched way too thin. There isn’t any end destination. It’s a lot of action with no climactic result. The conflict doesn’t even start until 2/3 of the way into the film–right about the time when the comedy starts to lose its overall momentum.
The humor is much less dated, and the writers do a great job of not relying on just calling back the jokes from the first film. The children are incorporated a lot more and it feels like much less of a device to showcase Chevy Chase’s talent.
It’s too bad that the plot is pieced together so terribly, because this would have certainly helped the franchise reach a new level. But at least we still have a lot of laughs.