Thursday, August 19, 2010

National Lampoon's Vacation Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 17.7 GB
Film Size: 17.6 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: ABC
The Video
National Lampoon’s Vacation comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. The film released in 1983 so I already dropped my expectations a bit before going in, films from the ‘80s and ‘90s for the most part have looked somewhat disappointing on Blu-ray (particularly comedies) . Also, if National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was any indication then this one would be disappointing.

So how is the high-def encode included? Quite good actually. The film features a nice upgrade in clarity from the DVD release and colors are presented nicely, never looking oversaturated or odd. Black levels are surprisingly solid throughout as well.

Detail levels can be quite impressive, but they can also be quite disappointing depending on the scene. There are moments which I thought detail levels would be stronger than they were, but they just aren’t. I can’t blame DNR or edge enhancement issues as grain is present throughout.

Overall I am very pleased by the video presentation. The quality won’t always knock your socks off, but at least it is a noticeable improvement from DVD and a far better transfer than the one included for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on Blu-ray.

National Lampoon’s Vacation looks true to the source and while not a breathtaking experience, it definitely looks very good. Those who have had to stick with the DVD release all these years will be more than pleased when you pop in National Lampoon’s Vacation into your Blu-ray player. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included. Also included are French, German and Spanish 1.0 Dolby Digital audio tracks. Optional subtitles include English (SDH), French, German (SDH), Finnish, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.

The audio is a mono track, but I have to commend Warner for doing things right and included a lossless mono track. This has not always been the case for the studio so it is nice to see they have improved in providing the best possible audio experience for their Blu-ray releases. Paramount is one studio which needs to take a note of this and give their mono tracks the lossless treatment as well.

Alright, so let’s talk about the audio. The audio is actually very nice, of course as front heavy as can be. Regardless, everything about the movie is presented nicely and quite easy to understand. Dialogue isn’t always as crisp and clear as one could dream, but it certainly is fine and didn’t hiss or crack like I had worried it would.

The film’s music is quite aggressive and pleasing for a mono track, the audio effects throughout also feature a very satisfying level of quality throughout. Demo material this is not, but this certainly is the best National Lampoon’s Vacation has ever sounded.

Those going in with believable expectations will find themselves very pleased by the audio experience. I was never amazed by the audio quality, but it certainly gets the job done in every aspect and I was satisfied from beginning to end (especially for a comedy). 7/10.

The Extras

Introduction (0:44) (SD)
By Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid & Matty Simmons

Audio Commentary
By Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron & Matty Simmons.

An introduction is included from the 20th anniversary, which also included the audio commentary. The audio commentary is definitely enjoyable and informative, but really that is all that there is. Fans will be satisfied in knowing that nothing is missing, but there wasn’t much that could have been left out. 2/10.

The Movie
Who hasn’t had a family vacation which had its share of drama or things didn’t go as expected? National Lampoon’s Vacation takes many aspects in which the viewer can relate to, but takes it to the next level and making the situations as wacky as can be.

National Lampoon’s Vacation is truly one of my favorite comedies of all time, being able to revisit the film on Blu-ray was amazing (despite the semi-disappointing video presentation) and I didn’t think I could love it anymore than I already did.

The film stars the hilarious Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, as well as a great supporting cast which includes Randy Quaid, Christy Brinkley, Imogene Coca and John Candy.

This is a great stupid comedy which I dare you to try not and laugh. For those who have not seen the movie, don’t let the brand scare you, this was before National Lampoon’s became known purely for unfunny high school targeted sex comedies.

I always tend to have harder time writing about my favorite comedies, perhaps because I really can’t find much to criticize. I will say that the movie feels a bit dated due to new tech developments in the past couple of decades, but jokes and overall humor were actually funnier to me this time than I had ever remembered.

Chances are you have already seen the movie and formed your opinion. Those who have never seen the movie, this is one comedy which should not be missed. The Blu-ray release isn’t spectacular, but you should make time for National Lampoon’s Vacation regardless of which format you choose to view it on.

National Lampoon’s Vacation is wacky as can be, but that is what I absolutely love about it. Chevy Chase is at his very best here and the supporting cast also brings the laughs. The film is easy to enjoy and even easier to love. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
National Lampoon’s Vacation is a comedy gem and one which anybody who has ever been on a family road trip can relate to in one way or another. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring a true-to-the-source video presentation and fitting audio mix.

The lack of extras is disappointing, but at least nothing is missing. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘Highly Recommended’ to fans of the film and easily ‘Recommended’ to those new to the film.

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