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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: National Lampoon's European Vacation

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    National Lampoon's European Vacation
    Release Date: August 10, 2010
    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX"
    Year: 1985
    Rating: PG-13
    Running Time: 1:34:00
    MSRP: $24.98







    THE FEATURE

    SPECIAL FEATURES



    Video

    1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1

    N/A



    Audio

    DTS-HD Master Audio: English 1.0 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, German 1.0, Castellano 1.0, Spanish 1.0

    Mono



    Subtitles

    English SDH, French, German SDH, Castellano, Spanish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

    N/A






    The Feature: 3/5
    Thanks to a successful run on the "Pig In A Poke" game show, the Griswold Family - father Clark (Chevy Chase), mother Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), son Rusty (Jason Lively), and daughter Audrey (Dana Hill) - is off on their next vacation. With stops in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, they bumble over and fumble through each destination's historic landmark and cultural experience, testing the limits of their familial bond as well as the patience of their host countries. It's only when they inadvertently cross paths with some of Rome's seedier denizens that they see how close they really are, proving that there really is no keeping apart - nor stopping - the Family Griswold.

    Though "European Vacation" feels more cohesive than its predecessor, in part because of fewer stops on the trip, there aren't nearly as many laughs. Most of the jabs and fish-out-of-water gags have been done to death, though maybe it's the fact that after 25 years they just haven't aged well. The final third, when the family enters Germany, is notably more entertaining, though overall the film doesn't have the same climactic payoff as the first. Without the Griswold's aiming for THE ultimate destination, the film sort of limps across the border, even though the end involves a frenzied car chase through the streets of Rome. Ultimately, "European Vacation" is less satisfying than the previous movie, though it proved successful enough to merit another sequel four years later.

    Video Quality: 3.5/5

    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. As with the first film, the transfer appears true to the source, though the qualities of that source are notably different. Grain is a little coarser and colors are richer and more saturated, suggesting the use of a different film stock. Affecting the color rendition is what looks like a slightly compressed contrast range, giving the image a strong, "contrasty" appearance. Resulting black levels are deep and stable, but then shadow detail is often limited. The picture is also more prone to softness, though there are no indications of excessive digital sharpening or noise reduction measures. Finally, the image is remarkably clean - a brief vertical scratch being the only noticeable physical damage.



    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 good detail and dynamic range. Compared to the track on the first film, it doesn't have quite the same sparkle, but any differences are pretty subtle.

    Special Features: 2/5
    The audio commentary from the 2002 DVD release makes the transition to Blu-ray, but as with the "Vacation" Blu-ray release, the theatrical trailer is strangely absent.

    Commentary by Chevy Chase: Information and anecdotes of real value come slowly and infrequently in this patience-testing commentary. Chase does have some interesting things to say about character development and his relationship with co-star D'Angelo, but ultimately the whole thing could have been packaged (and more easily consumed) through a video interview or featurette.

    Recap
    The Feature: 3/5
    Video Quality: 3.5/5
    Audio Quality: 3/5
    Special Features: 2/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 3/5

    Warner Brothers turns in a decent technical presentation for the less satisfying "Vacation" sequel, while a slow-moving audio commentary makes up the sole special feature. Those who own the DVD may find it a questionable upgrade, though the right price will help some to justify adding it to their collections.
     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the review. "European Vacation" has its moments, but it's easily the worst of the four "Vacation" movies -- and features the most irritating Audrey.
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I found her irritating also, but felt bad when I found out the actress passed away in her 30s from a paralytic stroke. She did a lot of voice work for cartoons, which seems like a good fit for her vocal tone.
     
  4. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    Vegas Vacation is the worst of the Vacation movies... at least that is my opinion. and Audrey was fine, I am sure in the script she was written as what was played. You should check out the Alan Parker film SHOOT THE MOON. She was much younger, but was really good in the film.

    BTW can anyone confirm if there are any cuts in this film? Some have said the nudity is now missing? The film was always rated PG-13 though. Also did WB's replace their logo preceding the film? I hope they kept the original logos for both these VACATION titles.
     
  5. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I always thought BOTH of the kids in European Vacation were annoying. But I still like European Vacation better than Vegas Vacation.
     
  6. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    The logos looked vintage to me, but I'm not exactly sure what the replacements have looked like.


    The scene in the burlesque has topless women doing the Jazzercise number. I don't know if the act preceding it was also supposed to.


    There's no instances of D'Angelo flashing any skin, unlike the first film.

     
  7. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    WB's lately replaces their logos with the brand new one seen opening current films, so you'd know it if you saw it. But it seems they kept the original logos intact.

    I think there was also a scene where rusty is with a girl and she takes her top off. Some say it is missing on some releases others have it.

    Thanks for the info.
     
  8. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    That scene is in there still.

     
  9. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Screenwriter

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    As for any editing of the film, other than TV airings (it used to air on the Disney Channel a lot), has it ever been edited? The previous two DVD releases (the second of which is where the commentary came from) were the PG-13 cut.


    I've always liked the film. On the commentary, Chevy Chase at one point says "This is better than I thought it was".


    As for the worst of the VACATION films, anyone see CHRISTMAS VACATION 2? I can find good things to say about all the films, even VEGAS, but not that. It "premiered" as a Saturday night movie on TV, was dumped on DVD, and hasn't been seen since.
     
  10. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    That's for sure. I remember seeing Dana Hill in a number of projects back in that era, and she always annoyed the heck out of me.


    BTW, I may be the only person who doesn't hate "Vegas Vacation", but I'd pick it as the 2nd BEST of the four Chase ones:


    1) Vacation

    2) Vegas

    3) European

    4) Christmas


    In no way, shape or form would I classify "Vegas" as a great - or good - movie, but I think the two middle films are badly flawed and just not very entertaining - especially the awful, awful "Christmas". "Vegas" maintains a better thematic integrity than the others and actually has a few laughs...
     
  11. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    I don't really count "CV2" because Chase wasn't involved. It was a cheap knock-off meant to sell a few units due to name recognition.


    If it counts as an actual "Vacation" movie, it's undeniably the worst. In my review, I didn't say that "CV2" was just the worst of the franchise: I said it was one of the worst films I'd ever seen PERIOD!
     
  12. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Yeah, CV2 doesn't count but would be well at the bottom if it did.


    Id ranking them:


    1) Vacation
    2) Christmas Vacation (I liked that it inverted the formula by having everyone come to the Griswolds instead of vice versa)

    3) Vegas Vacation
    4) European Vacation

    ...

    CV2
     
  13. Scott Merryfield

    Supporter

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    I am surprised at the lack of love for European Vacation. There are some bits I really love. How can you not like a film with Eric Idle in a recurring bit role?


    Whenever we drive through a roundabout, either my wife or I will immediately say "Hey kids. Big Ben... Parliament".


    I was not even aware that there was a Christmas Vacation 2. Sounds like I didn't miss much.


    I would rank the films as follows:


    1. Vacation

    2a. Christmas Vacation

    2b. European Vacation

    4. Vegas Vacation
     
  14. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Screenwriter

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    You are not alone. That is indeed one of the most quoted moments from any of the films.


    I'm more surprised that Colin ranked CHRISTMAS as the worst. Many today would say that is the best. Like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, it has become something of a Holiday classic. In fact, it was the first to go Blu.
     
  15. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Lead Actor

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    Good. The only reason to watch this garbage. ;)

    1. Vacation

    2. Christmas

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    3. The rest

    Yeah, Christmas Vacation 2 looked embarrassing. Quaid should have been arrested for THAT.
     
  16. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    1. Christmas Vacation.

    2. Vacation.

    .

    .

    3. Vegas Vacation.

    .

    .

    .

    .


    4. European Vacation



    Others may disagree, but I'd like to see some top flight writers take a shot at another film, this one featuring Clark & his wife visiting the grandkids
     
  17. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I'd rank them that way too.
     
  18. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Which I find utterly baffling, as I just find almost nothing funny in that film. I even mentioned its continued popularity in my review, though I didn't refer to it as a "holiday classic". I'll throw out my full thoughts in case those might explain my dislike better: "From what I understand, Christmas Vacation maintains a pretty decent fanbase. Frankly, I can’t see why this lame excuse for a holiday flick gets much positive attention. It seems lackluster at best and pointless at worst. Without question, the film enjoys a slew of situations that could develop into humorous episodes. The whole issue of the visiting relatives along with house decorating, tree hunting, and other staples of the season lend themselves easily to comedy. Most of us know what those occasions are like and can relate to them, which sets up the gags well. Unfortunately, Christmas never remotely capitalizes on all of that. Instead, it uses all these situations as little more than chances to toss out trite and predictable slapstick. Few occasions for physical humor pass without an appearance of someone falling or hurting themselves. That seems to be the filmmakers’ answer to every potentially funny set-up: bring on the pain and the laughs will follow. The amusement almost never ensues, though. Instead, the gags just fall flat and leave us without much satisfaction. No spark or pizzazz accompanies the development of the jokes or situations here. The film simply meanders along a loose plot structure, flings out gags at random and hopes the hit the mark. They don’t. The film makes a number of other misfires. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they added the yuppie neighbors other than just because people hate smug characters like them. They offer an easy target and let us see Clark inflict harm on someone other than himself and his family for once. That’s not a great reason to include them, and their moments add nothing to the film. Clark himself seems noticeably different in Christmas. For the most part, we lose the manic personality of the earlier movies, as this Clark comes across as surlier and meaner. In the film’s first scene, he enacts some serious road rage, and other moments early in the flick demonstrate similar nastiness. This character really should remain naïve and benign until he becomes so heavily provoked he can’t take it anymore, but the Clark of Christmas starts with a bad attitude. The movie tries to mellow him somewhat as it progresses, but that seems like an odd way to go considering our already-established familiarity with him. Add to that a climax that does little more than replicate the ending of the original movie and Christmas Vacation feels like a tired enterprise. The film fails to explore many open doors and can’t think of anything better to do than injure characters to attempt to garner laughs. The movie falls flat the vast majority of the time and goes nowhere.
     
  19. jim_falconer

    jim_falconer Supporting Actor

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    Actually, he had some serious issues in the first film, when his family wanted him to turn back home. He pretty much lost it, and displays the rage you are mentioning. That said, here's how I rate the films: 1) Vacation 2) Christmas 3) Vegas . . . . . 4) European
     
  20. David Deeb

    David Deeb Supporting Actor

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    I've been saying the same thing for a while Enough time has gone by, and I think Chase could bring a great performance again with the right material. Would be nice to bring Anthony Michael Hall back to the son role too. I could see also see a beach vacation with Chase taking his kids & grandchildren. Really surprised they haven't made another one.
     

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