Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold and his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) --- and their two generally repulsive children Rusty (Jason Lively) and Audrey (Dana Hill) -- are off on a European vacation thanks to a winning stint on a quiz show. As the movie unfolds in brochures featuring London, Paris, and regions in Italy and Germany, the family undergoes a series of slap-schtick misadventures that include thinking an overwhelmed German husband and wife are long-lost relatives and getting into a funk in their train compartment. Not on a par with the first National Lampoon vacation, for many viewers the end of this European vacation is something that cannot come too soon.
Chevy Chase, star of National Lampoon's Vacation and its sequel, is back as the paterfamilias of the Griswold family (including Beverly D'Angelo as his missus) to skewer the Yuletide season. Chevy mugs, trips, falls, mashes his fingers and stubs his toes as he prepares to invite numerous dysfunctional relatives to his household to celebrate Christmas. Amidst the more outrageous sight gags (including the electrocution of a cat as the Christmas tree is lit) the film betrays a sentimental streak, with old wounds healing and long-estranged relatives reuniting in the Griswold living room. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was still capable of attracting an audience five years after its release: It was one of the top-rated seasonal TV specials of 1994, outrating even the first network telecast of It's a Wonderful Life.
This is the fourth in a series of movies that began with National Lampoon's Vacation in 1983 and feature the family headed by Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) going on wacky vacations. This time, the Griswolds visit Las Vegas. Clark immediately goes to the blackjack table and starts blowing all his money, continually encouraged to spend more and more by a taunting dealer, Marty (Wallace Shawn). Ellen Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo) becomes smitten with the lounge singer Wayne Newton (playing himself), who invites her to sing onstage with him. Their son Rusty (Ethan Embry) is incredibly lucky playing dice, and he is virtually adopted by a family of gangsters who see him as their meal ticket. Daughter Audrey (Marisol Nichols) gets hooked up with her wild cousin Vickie (Shae D'Lyn), who takes her to sleazy dance clubs. White-trash cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), who lives on a former A-bomb test site in the nearby desert, also gets involved with the capers.