National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Blu-ray features mediocre video and audio in this still enjoyable Blu-ray release
It's Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but
things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark's continual bad luck
is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his
Christmas bonus is due soon.
For more about National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Blu-ray release, see National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 23, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn't be more surprised than I
1989's Christmas Vacation is one of the more successful of modern Christmas movies,
offering up ninety nonstop minutes of holiday fun. Perhaps the best and most beloved of the
Vacation films, Christmas Vacation is a pleasant diversion from the avalanche of
Hallmark Christmas movies and the deluge of Santa-centric films like Tim Allen's Santa Clause series.
Grounded in a mostly realistic plot with a few fun but never overly exaggerated comical scenarios,
this film is a success because it's so very easy to relate to, especially for those coming from large
families. Christmas Vacation does for the family get-together what Office Space
for the office routine, creating a film filled with laughs for everyone and the more you can relate
the situations in the film, the funnier it becomes.
And now on to the review. Drumroll please!
Christmas Vacation stars Chevy Chase (Memoirs of an Invisible Man) as Clark
Griswold, a man obsessed with making
this Christmas the best his family has ever seen. There's one hiccup, however: everything keeps
going wrong! Clark remains mostly unaware of or indifferent to the problems, facing them with
childlike acceptance, bound and determined to make things right regardless of
any problem that creeps up (and plenty will!). This enthusiasm falters, however, when Clark's
cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid, Independence Day)
and his clan show up uninvited to the Griswold home in an abused
and decrepit RV, planning to spend the entire holiday season with him. Like A Christmas Story,
this movie is a series of vignettes with the running theme being Clark's need to get a bonus
check from his boss at work to fund a swimming pool he is installing as a surprise gift to his
family. In the end, Clark learns a lesson that life's best bonuses don't necessarily revolve around
Christmas time or not, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a movie I always feel
comfortable watching. It's got tremendous replay value as a fun, humorous comedy that ranks
fairly high on my list of guilty pleasures. As a comedy, it succeeds in spades with a constant
of jokes that are actually funny. From finding the perfect tree that is too big for a business lobby
alone a living room to rowdy and unwelcome relatives making an appearance to the family cat
electrocuting itself with Christmas lights, the humor is never dull or lacking in spirit. It all fits
perfectly into the story which results in a fun film that flows, moves along quickly, and leaves the
viewer's funny bone satisfied at the end. The characters are very well written, portrayed
fantastically by each cast member, and it never strays away from the plausible which, to me, is
what helps this comedy succeed above many others.
Warner Brothers' 1080p, 1.851 Blu-ray presentation of Christmas Vacation is the best I've
ever seen this
film look. However, the image retains what has always been a rather flat look. Surprisingly, this
looks fairly good overall. It's nothing spectacular, but I was expecting much less, something around
the range of a 1.5-2 star rating. For a 15+ year old comedy, it looks fine. Detail is pretty high.
Flesh tones look solid enough, colors are moderately vibrant, and black levels appear fine, but not
magnificent. The print is mostly in good shape. There are some pops and nicks here and there,
especially in long distance shots, but on the whole this one looks good. Outdoor scenes fared
especially well. I can't say this is worth an upgrade if you have the recent special edition DVD,
however, as any improvement gained over an upscaled presentation is almost negligible.
Christmas Vacation is presented in a Dolby Digital 2-channel audio track only. What is
there to say, really? It sounds fine, all
things considered. There's not much in the source material to work with, and it's very front heavy
with the vast majority of the sound emanating from the center channel speaker. Obviously, there
very little ambience or activity from anything in the rear, but there are a few effects and music
bleeding into the left and right front channels. There is little to no bass to be heard. As a dialogue
driven comedy, not much more is to be expected. Said dialogue comes across pleasantly enough;
there's nothing that ever really distracts from or hinders it. I cannot say
this is a disappointing soundtrack because I expected so little from it. As such, this Blu-ray disc
The only supplement to speak of is a feature commentary track with actors Randy Quaid, Beverly
D'Angelo, Johnny Galecki, Miriam Flynn, director Jeremiah Chechik, and producer Matty Simmons.
This is a pretty fun, none too serious track. We get discussions about ice skating lessons, hairstyle
choices, and facial hair. There is just a bit of actual filmmaking tidbits, and they are interesting
(such as deciding to edit a scene without cuts versus with cuts) and it allows for a brief respite from
the nonstop humor of the track. This commentary supplements the movie well, fitting right in with
the theme, pace, and style of the movie. A recommended listen. Please note that accessing the
special features from the pop-up menu will stop the movie and take you to a static menu. You may
resume playback from your last spot, however. Also included is a 480p trailer for the film.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation has cemented its status as one of the funniest
Christmas movies ever, and it has tremendous replay value. There is hardly a scene that won't
bring a smile to your face, and it is well worth your holiday movie watching time. This Blu-ray
sports mediocre video and audio quality, but Christmas Vacation wasn't a slick, expensive
blockbuster to begin with, and what we have is adequate for this film. I have no doubt this is
the best we're ever likely to see this movie look and sound. Supplements are lacking, but the
commentary was a nice treat and worth a listen. If you are searching for that last-minute
Christmas gift for your favorite Blu-ray fans, pick this up
for them! Recommended.
Christmas Vacation: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1 bundle)
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