DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Vegas Vacation (RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Oct 19, 2003.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    Vegas Vacation





    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1997
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 95 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $14.98
    Package: Snap Case






    The Feature:
    Recently, Warner Brothers re-released three of the Vacation movies from the series, delivering all new widescreen transfers. European Vacation was already released initially in its proper widescreen format. Also released on October 7th was a four disc box set entitled, The Ultimate Vacation Collection which contains all four movies from the series in their proper widescreen versions. The box for the new Vegas Vacation version appears to be similar however has a red border around the outside and within a red banner along the top, has the words, WIDESCREEN EDITION.

    Vegas Vacation is the last (and I won’t say final) version of the franchise. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is back and after receiving a hefty bonus for his food preservative concept, decides to take the dysfunctional family on a vacation to Las Vegas. Though his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) isn’t convinced that Vegas is the place for “family entertainment”, Clark quickly talks her and the family into it.

    Upon their arrival, the kids, Rusty and Audrey (this time played by Ethan Embry and Marisol Nichols) are old enough and want to explore the city on their own terms (can you blame them…?). It quickly becomes apparent that Clark has a slight gambling problem and gambles away the entire family savings and Ellen becomes caught in the sights of Wayne Newton as a potential love interest. After Rusty gets a fake I.D. from a Sinatra impersonator (who looks and sounds great by the way), he ventures off to gamble. Needless to say he does a better job than dad. Audrey on the other hand, gets caught up with her cousin (who’s a… er… dancer…) and decides she too is going to dance at “Club Areola”…

    Finally, as we have come to love him, cousin Eddie shows up who coincidently just lives outside of town on property once used for military nuclear testing but is quick to proclaim that “his teeth have never been whiter and his garden produces fifty pound tomatoes”… God bless Eddie…! Vegas surely, will never be the same…

    I had forgotten the Siegfried and Roy stage show appearance (which seems rather ironic in light of recent events) as well as a neat cameo by the great Sid Ceasar who finally beats the odds in a game of Keno – well, not really… Also present is producer Jerry Weintraub who plays the high roller, Jilly from Philly.

    Ironically, my biggest complaint with the movie was the choice of music. The first movie had a toe tapping atmosphere when “Holiday Road” kicked in (similar, was the “Christmas Vacation” theme that accompanied that film and its selection of Christmas music). For this movie, they attempted a tropical theme which felt like something that should have been starring Carmen Miranda… That same atmosphere was noticeably absent from Vegas Vacation. We get another quick cameo of Christie Brinkley (this time with baby - in a car seat)… “Holiday Road” kicks in and it just seems like business as usual…



    Video:
    This is by far, the best video transfer of the Vacation series. Unfortunately (but I really mean fortunately), I don’t have the original MAR version to compare the two. While it’s not perfect, it is sure to impress fans of the film. The level of detail was exceptional, particularly facial detail. There were a few soft shots… presumably filmed in that manner but were rather infrequent. As you can imagine, there is a veritable buffet of the color palette, all of which jump off the screen. Colors are extremely vibrant and nicely saturated. Skin colors are also rendered seemingly accurately.

    Blacks could have been a bit deeper bit don’t disappoint. I could only detect a very slight amount of film dirt and the occasional light speckle. Shadow and contrast levels were acceptable and edge enhancement was a non issue.

    By no means perfect but certainly the best of the series. Very nice!!



    Audio:
    This DD 5.1 offered a little more than I bargained for as well. During the opening credits (and into the film) the music and even the music that I commented on earlier, sounds great. It is a rather aggressive track with a forward soundstage that was pretty impressive. Dialogue was always clear and rendered nicely. A few of the crash scenes weren’t as dynamic as I had hoped for but they weren’t necessarily disappointing either.

    There were only a few instances where surrounds were employed and certainly could have been used to a greater extent for better effect. LFE is present but is only obvious during a couple of scenes.

    Even thought the soundstage is primarily up-front, it is rather aggressive. Too bad surrounds weren’t used to their full potential… Overall, a satisfying 5.1 track.



    Special Features:
    From the main menu, upon entering The Gallery, we are given an option of seven special features. The first is titled Cast Profiles. These are brief bios on the cast members and filmographies listing all of their works.

    Behind The Scenes is a four page text listing which briefly discusses the shoot and includes comments from a few of the cast members.

    Siegfried And Roy is a brief two page text listing and bio of the entertainers.

    Next up is Jerry Weintraub which is a three page text list of comments from the producer.

    Newcombers is a brief look at the two young stars that play Rusty and Audrey in the film.

    On Location is a two page text listing which comments on the making of the film.

    Finally, the Theatrical Trailer is included which is in pretty good shape.

    Other than the trailer, the special features included really aren’t overly abundant nor are they very enlightening.



    Final Thoughts:
    There is no question about it. Vegas Vacation is not on par with its predecessors, Vacation or Christmas Vacation. Clearly, it’s not nearly as tight or as well written. While it does fall short of living up to previous versions, it doesn’t fall totally flat. I still had a lot of fun with it.

    Whatever this disc lacks in special features, it makes up for in an A/V presentation that bests the others in the series. If you’re a fan of the Vacation series like I am, you’ll want to add this to your collection. Recommended…!!




    Released: October 7th, 2003
     
  2. Scott Temple

    Scott Temple Supporting Actor

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    Many thanks Herb. [​IMG] This is the first and only review I've found on the 'net for this disc. As strange as it might sound, "Vegas Vacation" is my favorite of the Vacation films. The Las Vegas setting creates such a nice atmosphere. Amazon shipped my copy out on Friday and I am looking forward to enjoying it within the next few days.
     
  3. JasonKZ

    JasonKZ Stunt Coordinator

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    Thought is was interesting how they had to drop the "National Lampoon's" for this flick. I had never seen it before this release, and while the tranfer and sound are okay, the movie just didn't do it for me at all. Anyhow, glad to see these films released properly...
     
  4. josh4040

    josh4040 Second Unit

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    Two words, Nick PapaGeorgio! Love this movie, can't believe I haven't got this or xmas vacation. Good review thanks Herb!
     
  5. Scott Temple

    Scott Temple Supporting Actor

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  6. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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    Got it... great review... Thanks for re-releasing these in Widescreen!
     
  7. Scott Simonian

    Scott Simonian Screenwriter

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  8. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    The movie's even funnier if you live in Las Vegas.

    Anways, remember the scene where Clark is trying to win his money back and the go to the 'off the beaten path' casino. Remember they played a card game of "War" that seems pretty silly?

    There is a casino, or there was one, that did that for real. It was O'Sheas down in the middle of the strip.
     
  9. Thomas H G

    Thomas H G Screenwriter

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    Any chance of an SE of this like Vacation and Xmas Vacation got?
     
  10. Juan Castillo

    Juan Castillo Second Unit

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    Put in a dollar, win a car.... I got it Rusty..


    So I says.. Get your own Monkey!!

    My wife and I really love this, so much in fact, that we stooped to purchasing the original 4:3 release.. We will, and I mean for sure, upgrade and get the Christmas vacation..
     
  11. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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  12. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Well this and European will be my next purchase tomorrow along with Raiders gift set. I loved Vegas Vacation and everytime I was at the store to buy it, I could never find it, glad that I didn't, I would have had to double dip for the widescreen edition.
     
  13. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

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    I love this one - if you look at it like they are making a parody of the earlier films, then you see the genius of it.

    European is the most disappointing, but otherwise there isnt a stronger comedy series of 4 films that I can think of.

    I want to see another one - Hawaiian Vacation? Australian Vacation? Call John Hughes!
     
  14. Steve Spin

    Steve Spin Extra

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    Great Movie!
    This one is also my favorite of the Vacation films.
    Very underrated.
    I disagree about the music...every time I go to Vegas I start to hum the Casino Theme!
     
  15. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    The funniest moment in the movie (for me)

    When Wayne Newton is singing, "Lovin' You" to Ellen and she bursts out with that high-pitched line so familiar from the song.
     
  16. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Yes this film is very underrated. And I got a great deal on it yesterday, I only paid $8.44 for it. I will be watching it tonight.
     
  17. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    "I haven't seen a beating like that since someone stuck a banana in my pants and let a monkey loose."

    "Thanks for the pick me up, Eddie."

    Classic stuff [​IMG]
     
  18. ToddS

    ToddS Stunt Coordinator

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    I was in Vegas in May and stayed at the Mandalay Bay and they had a Casino War table.
     
  19. Scott Strang

    Scott Strang Screenwriter

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