Vegas Vacation

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Vegas Vacation Movie Poster Image
Lame National Lampoon with usual innuendo, drinking.
  • PG
  • 1997
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Bad behavior has few consequences, though it's pretty obvious that the characters are making the opposite of appropriate choices. The pursuit of pleasure takes precedence over rational thinking and doing the right thing. There are lots of ways teens find to get around rules and laws (lying, fake IDs, payoffs).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both parents behave irresponsibly and selfishly, for comic effect. Clark Griswold gambles with abandon and no concern for the outcome until it's almost too late. Ellen Griswold feigns wide-eyed innocence as she engages in a flirtation with Wayne Newton. The two teen Griswolds are unsupervised and have no consequences for bad behavior. Both residents of Las Vegas and vacationers there are depicted as wild, pleasure-seeking, heavy-drinking party-goers. 


Clark Griswold steps out onto a ledge high above Hoover Dam, then climbs a derrick. He's never in serious danger.


No overt sexual behavior, but lots of innuendo in dialogue and male leering at scantily dressed women and plunging necklines. The Griswold parents make an effort to join a "certain club" that is never identified, but then try to squeeze into a airplane toilet for fruitless attempts at romance. One bizarre character kisses his daughter (identified as a stripper) on the lips a little too intently. Generally, Las Vegas is portrayed as a very sexually-obsessed vacation spot.


Few swear words: "hell," "Goddamn," "kick you in the nuts." An entire scene is played for laughs punning  "damn" and "dam" as in Hoover Dam. A sign identifies a strip club as "Club Aereola."


A veritable ad for Las Vegas tourism, its hotels and nightspots. The Mirage Hotel is a key location and identified in many scenes. Other locations and products: MGM Grand, Riviera, Nieman Marcus, Marlboro Lights, Dunkin Donuts, Yuban coffee, and more. One character carries a can of Busch beer every time he's on camera.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of casual drinking. Characters, including some underage teens, consume alcohol in nearly every social setting and there is some teen drunkenness. The Griswold's cousin carries a can of Busch beer (or another alcoholic beverage) every time he appears and he always appears to be under the influence. Some cigar smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in its the quest for humor and laughs, this film portrays everyone in the Griswold family as irresponsible, amoral, dishonest, and foolish. The Griswold teens either drink, cheat, steal, gamble, or lie throughout. The entire Las Vegas environment is seen as obsessively sensual, tawdry, and alcohol-infused. In fact, many of the leading characters are seen continuously holding or drinking alcoholic beverages. In addition, the film functions as a lengthy commercial for the city's hotels and hot spots, along with lots of other product placement. Language is relatively mild, with some "damns," and "hells." In addition the film teems with sexual innuendo, as well as much leering and ogling at scantily clad women.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byMovieman456 June 1, 2020
Adult Written bySpencer H. January 11, 2020

Surprisingly the cleanest entry in the Vacation series but more for pre-teens and up

Considering the Griswold's destination is Vegas you might think this would be the raciest film in the series but it is surprisingly the cleanest with a PG... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLeonvol February 3, 2021


it is a really funny movie, i think this one is the best of the vacation should see it with your kids they will be laughing almost the whole time
Kid, 12 years old January 1, 2021

Very funny though some iffy stuff

I think it was funny although it had some iffy stuff some drinking (underage) also some sexy stuff although it was hilarious it also got a little ridiculous whe... Continue reading

What's the story?

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) surprises his family with a trip to Las Vegas. Once there, instead of the "togetherness" Clark was touting, each Griswold takes off into his or her own world: gambling, partying, drinking, and in the case of Ellen Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo), embarking on a flirtation with Wayne Newton. Complicating the already manic family behavior is Vacation regular, Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his brood. Some of the Griswolds get in trouble; some of them get rich; all of them are supposed to learn a lesson about the values of sharing and love.

Is it any good?

With cartoonish performances, amateur direction, slapdash editing, and a resolution-free, illogical story, this movie marks a low point in the careers of everyone associated with it. Cameo appearances from Siegfried and Roy and their tigers, the venerable Sid Caesar in a never-ending vaudevillian death scene, and Wayne Newton don't help at all. Even the worst movie may have a few scenes that almost rescues it from the trash heap. VEGAS VACATION is one of those movies. Clark Griswold's visit to an "alternative" casino with such games as "Pick A Number From One to Ten" and "Rock, Paper, Scissors," is hilarious as are a few others, but those scattered minutes can't possibly make up for the rest of this witless mess.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the trips they've taken with their families. What makes a good family vacation?

  • What did Clark Griswold learn about gambling? What price, if any, did he ultimately have to pay for his irresponsible behavior? What might really happen to someone who gambled as he did?

  • What did you think about the drinking in the movie? How realistic was it? What would the real-life consequences of that kind of drinking be?

  • Each Griswold kept his or her Las Vegas adventures a secret from the other family members. When, if ever, is it appropriate or all right to keep a secret from your family?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to travel

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