HTF REVIEW: "National Lampoon's European Vacation" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 13, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    National Lampoon's
    European Vacation

    "We're not normal people...we're Griswolds"
    -Clark Griswold
    Following the huge success of 1983's
    Vacation, the folks at National Lampoon
    decided to take the same formula and incorporate
    it into National Lampoon's European Vacation.
    Unfortunately, the ride is far less funny.
    [​IMG]
    The film begins as the Griswold family is
    appearing on the popular game show, "Pig in
    a Poke", where they dress up in pig costumes
    and answer questions for prizes. Going up
    against the world's smartest family, the
    Griswolds amazingly win an all-expense paid
    European Vacation.
    Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo return as
    Clark and Ellen. Their two teenagers, Rusty
    and Audrey have been replaced by Jason Lively
    and Dana Hill. Audrey can't bear to leave her
    boyfriend behind and Rusty can't wait to meet
    all the foreign women he can.
    [​IMG]
    With none of the flavor of the original Vacation's
    cross-country humor, European Vacation
    becomes a droll attempt at comedy that is hampered
    down by unfunny sight gags and a plot that involves
    the kidnapping of Ellen, leading to a car chase
    through the streets of Italy. All the jokes are
    simple, following the exact same scheme.
    [​IMG]
    If there are any memorable moments in this
    vacation, it is the visit to Stone Henge where
    their car accidently topples the monument of
    ages. Eric Idle also manages to save this film
    as a English bike rider who gets hit by the
    Griswolds driving on the wrong side of the road.
    The routine develops into a sort of 'Holy Grail'
    scene, but I bet that Eric Idle was ultimately
    embarrassed to be in this film.
    How is the transfer?
    This is something I don't understand, and
    it goes across the board with most all the
    studios....
    [​IMG]
    What is the problem with not cleaning up
    film's opening title sequences? This film
    starts off with the filthiest title sequence
    I have ever seen. It's full of dirt and scratches.
    It's the same thing Warner did with the Dirty
    Harry movies, and Columbia did with their catalog
    titles.
    It's not until the very first scene of the
    film until we realize that the print is indeed
    a good one. From thereon in, the transfer looks
    pretty good.
    One of the biggest complaints against Warner
    Home Video is that they released the original
    Vacation movie in open matte. Warner has
    at least done the right thing this time around
    and released an anamorphic (1.85:1) widescreen
    transfer.
    As I stated above, the transfer looks pretty
    good. The print doesn't look badly aged, and
    image quality remains quite good with nice vivid
    colors.
    The film is presented in Mono. Overall, it
    sounds a bit "tinny" and slightly muffled, but
    I wasn't expecting anything much more from a
    film like this.
    Special Features
    A full-length commentary by Chevy Chase is
    featured on this disc. From the first 30
    minutes I listened, commentary, I can sadly
    say that Chevy's commentary is as droll as
    the film. He periodically checks in offers
    one-sentance comments like "I still have that
    pig costume" (he says it more than once) and
    "Boy that guy is funny". He talks about how
    the videocamera used in the film was actually
    his, but doesn't give us any insight about
    filming Beverly D'Angelo flashing him. Chevy
    can't get enough of praising D'Angelo throughout
    the film, even two-thirds through the movie where
    he talks about how he was like a Godfather to
    her kids. I guess it's supposed to be interesting
    commentary when Chevy says he is still friends
    with the make-up man from the film. Overall,
    the commentary just seems to be low-key and not
    overly interesting.
    The film's original trailer is included.
    Final Thoughts
    I suppose that this is a DVD that all Vacation
    fans will purchase simply because it completes
    the trilogy of films.
    Still, it's a shame that this venture will sit
    on collector's shelves and fans will instead hope
    that Warner will go back and re-release the original
    Vacation film in its proper aspect ratio.
    Release Date: April 2, 2002
     
  2. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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    Ronbo, no commentary on this? I recall the spec stating there would be a commentary from Chase and D'Angelo. Is this not so? :-/

    At least this one is OAR and anamorphic. Here's hoping they not only re-visit Vacation, but also Christmas Vacation and Vegas Vacation too.

    Dan
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Actually, Dan, there is a full-length commentary

    by Chevy Chase.

    I had forgotten to include it in the specs.

    I am adding it.
     
  4. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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    Cool!

    Dan
     
  5. Brajesh Upadhyay

    Brajesh Upadhyay Supporting Actor

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    I actually liked this movie when it first came out -- thought it was pretty funny. Maybe I'll think differently after watching it now; this happened to me w/'Mad, Mad World', which I originally thought was hilarious but only so-so now. Tastes change over time for certain films.
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Personally, this is my second favorite "Vacation" film after the original (just edging out "Christmas Vacation").

    Look kids! Big Ben! Parliment!
     
  7. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    While it is my least favorite of the Vacation flicks, that's like saying it's my least favorite flavor of ice cream...there's no such thing as bad.
    I disagree with Ron that it's as bad and unfunny as he indicates...we'll have to agree to disagree on this. The scene with Clark dancing in the Oktoberfest is a riot to me!
    I'm glad to get at least one of the Vacation films in widescreen. Since the video quality is good, then I'll have to get this to support the idea of widescreen Vacation films.
    Unfortunately, most people will tend to agree with Ron. Its no surprise that WB would put out the least-liked Vacation film as the only WS effort. When sales aren't big because of this INSTALLMENT of the series, they will point to the whole thing and go, "See? 4x3 sells more!". [​IMG]
    Sigh. [​IMG]
     
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The reason why many credit sequences look flithy goes back to the film's original release.

    Optical shots (especially in low-budget films) are sometimes not handled best. Check out the title sequence for Lawrence of Arabia. Yes, it was restored, but the print damage was filmed into the credits.

    Even watching old episodes of Star Trek (the remastered versions put on DVD) show off print damage during optical shots due to careless handling of the film elements.

    BTW, if you check out the P&S version of Dirty Harry with the recreated credits for 4:3, you'll notice that the image has many of the same scars that are in the version with the credits.

    WB could have erased the damage with DVNR easily...but there would be a loss in quality and detail.
     
  9. Randy B A

    Randy B A Supporting Actor

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    thanx for the review.

    It would be nice if WB would release all 4 vacations in anamorphic W/S as a box set.
     
  10. rhett

    rhett Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the info Partick, I've always wondered about the quality of title sequences...and now I know! [​IMG]
     
  11. Bryan_ZZ

    Bryan_ZZ Stunt Coordinator

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    I completely disagree with the reviewer about the film. Very funny and worth a look for those who have not seen it.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Bryan
     
  12. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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    I'm going to get it for a few reasons.

    1) it'll be dirt cheap

    2) It's widescreen

    3) Maybe by purchasing this, they'll re-release the rest of em.
     
  13. Larry P

    Larry P Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, Im surprised so many people dislike this film.

    This was always my favorite Vacation movie. Christmas Vacation was never one of my favorites because that was a totally different type of story.

    And Vegas Vacation is just pathetic...it's just sad to see a once great performer like Chevy trying to be as quick as he was in his prime.

    But European Vacation took what I loved about the original and just expanded on it. Amy Heckerling is just a great talent, as proved by her many hits over the years.

    I don't think it was an accident that Warners put this out in widescreen because all of the European sites look really great.

    And they kept the beautiful Boris Valejo cover art!!

    I think it's a great film for fans of 80's style comedy.
     
  14. Chad Gregory

    Chad Gregory Supporting Actor

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    I 100% agree with Larry. European Vacation will always have a soft spot in my heart as my favorite.

    Hopefully this will lead to a rerelease of the other three in anamorphic widescreen.

    Can't wait.

    Also, this was announced to include commentary with both Chevy and Beverly, I guess she couldn't find time in her busy schedule.

    -Chad
     
  15. Steve_Knutzen

    Steve_Knutzen Screenwriter

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    I'll probably buy it just because it refreshing to see Chevy Chase when he was still funny (poor Chevy). I'm a little dissaponited to hear there are no cut scenes on the disc. I don't know if they were filmed but there are two alternate endings to this movie (Joe Bob Briggs discussed them on Monster Vision once). In one, the Griswolds return home and win a vacation to China. The other ends with them relaxing at their home. Oh well. Like everybody else I hope they'll eventually re-release all four in a boxset as special editions.
     
  16. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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  17. Greg_Y

    Greg_Y Screenwriter

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  18. John Stone

    John Stone Supporting Actor

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    I love this movie. I find it extremely funny, but I can certainly see why it's not everyone's cup of tea.
    I'm disappointed that the commentary is so boring, but I had a feeling it might be since Chevy is such a visual comedian. Well, that plus he hasn't said or done anything humorous in public in over a decade. [​IMG] Still, this is a "must-have" purchase for me.
    Now, if Warner would just release the rest of the Vacation films in their OAR!
     
  19. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    Patrick jumped in with a great explaination about the credit sequences and why they look the way they do. This is verging on being off topic, but I wanted to add that this situation can be seen in other parts of certain films and even in theatrical presentations.

    For instance, if you saw The Exorcist theatrically in either the "Version You've Never Seen" or the Warner Bros. anniversary tour, the print was SPECTACULAR, except for the scenes with opticals. This includes every shot with subtitles. The quality is noticeably lessened.

    Another example is the recent reissue of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The single shot of the Historian with a subtitle and the dissolve in "Scene 24" are far, far worse looking than the rest of the film.

    These artifacts can be noted on the DVDs as well.
     
  20. Larry P

    Larry P Stunt Coordinator

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    How much will this be at Best Buy and Circuit City?

    Should I order it from Deepdiscountdvd for 14.39 or will it go on sale for 12.99 or below at one of the B&Ms??

    thanks
     

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