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


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#1 of 39 Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 13 2002 - 06:48 AM

Posted Image

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.

Posted Image

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and Audrey have been replaced by Jason Lively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.

Posted Image

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.

Posted Image

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....

Posted Image


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

Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 39 Dan Brecher

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Posted March 13 2002 - 06:53 AM

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 of 39 Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 13 2002 - 06:55 AM

Actually, Dan, there is a full-length commentary
by Chevy Chase.

I had forgotten to include it in the specs.

I am adding it.

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#4 of 39 Dan Brecher

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Posted March 13 2002 - 06:57 AM

Cool!

Dan

#5 of 39 Brajesh Upadhyay

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Posted March 13 2002 - 07:09 AM

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.
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#6 of 39 Scott Merryfield

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Posted March 13 2002 - 09:58 AM

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

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#7 of 39 David Lambert

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Posted March 13 2002 - 10:40 AM

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!". Posted Image


Sigh. Posted Image
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#8 of 39 Patrick McCart

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Posted March 13 2002 - 10:55 AM

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 of 39 Randy B A

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Posted March 13 2002 - 12:40 PM

thanx for the review.

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

#10 of 39 rhett

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Posted March 13 2002 - 01:04 PM

Thanks for the info Partick, I've always wondered about the quality of title sequences...and now I know! Posted Image
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#11 of 39 Bryan_ZZ

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Posted March 13 2002 - 01:30 PM

I completely disagree with the reviewer about the film. Very funny and worth a look for those who have not seen it.
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#12 of 39 Adam_WM

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Posted March 13 2002 - 02:04 PM

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.
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#13 of 39 Larry P

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Posted March 13 2002 - 02:24 PM

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 of 39 Chad Gregory

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Posted March 13 2002 - 02:37 PM

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 of 39 Steve_Knutzen

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Posted March 13 2002 - 03:56 PM

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.
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#16 of 39 Adam_WM

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Posted March 13 2002 - 04:02 PM

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


Yeah, so busy making B-rated Cinemax movies about the evil middle-aged golddigger murderer.
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#17 of 39 Greg_Y

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Posted March 13 2002 - 11:34 PM

Quote:
Yeah, so busy making B-rated Cinemax movies about the evil middle-aged golddigger murderer.

Or maybe she'd rather concentrate on her twin one-year old babies?

#18 of 39 John Stone

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Posted March 14 2002 - 12:30 AM

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. Posted Image 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 of 39 Derek Miner

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Posted March 14 2002 - 01:26 AM

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.
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#20 of 39 Larry P

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Posted March 17 2002 - 05:26 AM

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