National Lampoon's Vacation Release Date: August 10, 2010 Studio: Warner Brothers Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX" Year: 1983 Rating: R Running Time: 1:38:00 MSRP: $24.98 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video 1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1 Standard definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 1.0 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, Spanish 1.0, German 1.0 Mono Subtitles English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish N/A The Feature: 4/5 With a new avocado green station wagon, a map of the United States, and lust for the open road, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is poised to transport his family across the country to Wally World, "America's Favorite Family Fun Park." Though wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), son Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and daughter Audrey (Dana Barron) don't quite share in his enthusiasm, they also won't be dying of boredom over the days-long journey. Faced with everything from losing all their cash to an unexpected detour through the desert, it will take all of Clark's good-natured determination to get them to their Los Angeles destination. Though he'll ultimately prove successful, actually getting into Wally World will require a different attitude altogether. Compared to today's risqué, "R-rated" comedies, "National Lampoon's Vacation" - with its optimistic, bumbling protagonist and family bonding theme - comes off as downright sweet. Though perhaps not as innocent as "A Christmas Story," which came out the same year, it bears a similar through line that winds up celebrating the family at the same time that it details its woes. And though its misadventure-driven plot is effective in mining the laughs, the more critical will note the tenuous narrative structure that makes the movie feel more like a series of vignettes or sketches rather than a cohesive piece. However the sheer memorability of each scene overshadows any faults around how they're connected, making the film not unlike the recollections of our own family trips - fondly, if not always accurately, remembered. Video Quality: 4.5/5 Presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec, the transfer approximates the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 frame. Though much of the film takes place outdoors or in brightly lit environments, black levels appear consistently stable and solid. Contrast tends to be a little limited in the darkest scenes - particularly with shadow delineation and detail - but displays an accurate range of values overall. Colors are muted - as many films were during that time - but retain a good sense of depth and stability. There are a few moments of softness - I believe source-related - but overall sharpness is quite good, with healthy, visible grain structure indicating no overuse of noise reduction or other digital enhancement measures. Audio Quality: 3/5 The 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is as simple as they come, but dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible and the music sequences exhibit very good detail and dynamic range. A high-pitched metallic squeaking during many of the car scenes is a bit too realistic, but it does demonstrate the track's high frequency reproduction capabilities. Special Features: 1/5 Though not every extra from the 20th anniversary DVD made it over, the most substantial of them did, though the theatrical trailer is strangely absent. It makes for a slim set of features for such a popular film. Introduction by Producer Matty Simmons, Randy Quaid, and Chevy Chase (:44): The three spend a few seconds goofing their way through an intro to what was then the film's 20th anniversary. Griswold Family Commentary by Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, Director Harold Ramis and Producer Matty Simmons: As described by former HTF reviewer Herb Kane in his DVD review, "Ramis takes the lead here and takes us on a detailed tour of the movie discussing why certain scenes were shot in the manner they were. Discussed is the infamous ghetto scene in St. Louis, working with Eugene Levy and John Candy. Personally, I found this to be the most (only…?) interesting special feature." Recap The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 3/5 Special Features: 1/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5 Warner Brothers turns in an excellent video presentation and an effective audio presentation for one of the '80s most memorable comedies. A meager special features package doesn't do the film justice, but I doubt it will stop most fans from making the purchase. Those who already have the DVD might find it hard to justify a double-dip, but the quality of the video should provide enough incentive given the right price point.