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Uneven Comedy 4 Stars

The holiday favorite National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray with a nice 4K transfer and not much else.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Released: 01 Dec 1989
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 97 min
Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis
Writer(s): John Hughes
Plot: The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 49

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 1 Hr. 37 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 11/01/2022
MSRP: $33.99

The Production: 3/5

The Vacation movies are an odd and uneven bunch, a series of five movies that follow the Griswold family as they venture out (or in this case stay in) for a family vacation. 1989’s entry, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, is about as uneven as the entire series when it comes to comedy. Patriarch Clark Griswold Jr. (Chevy Chase) is looking forward to the annual Christmas bonus his boss Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray) has traditionally handed out. So much so, that he has paid a deposit for the construction of an in-ground pool in the hopes of the bonus covering the check. He has also invited the in-laws to stay with them over the holidays, which his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) reminds him may not be the best idea. Their two kids, Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and Audrey (Juliette Lewis) are not all that happy when the grandparents, Clark Sr. (John Randolph) & Nora (Diane Ladd) and Art (E.G. Marshall) & Francis (Doris Roberts), arrive, forcing them to share a bed. To make matters worse, Ellen’s’ cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) shows up unexpectedly in a rundown RV with his wife (Miriam Flynn) and two kids Rocky (Cody Burger) and Ruby Sue (Ellen Latzen).

Comedy ensues, sort of, as Christmas Vacation often plays more like a series of vignettes of Clark finding the perfect Christmas tree, shopping for perfume and lingerie at the department store with Rusty, decorating the exterior of the house with enough lights to literally blind the neighbors (Nicholas Guest and Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The comedy flips back and forth from slapstick to raunchy humor that at times feels more uncomfortable than funny, and often tries too hard to be sentimental. The movie was written by John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes Trains and Automobiles) and marked the directing debut of former music video and commercial director Jeremiah Chechik (Benny & Joon, The Avengers). It is difficult to figure out what went wrong here – was it Hughes’ script, Chechik’s inexperience with comedy, interference from star Chase, or any combination of the three? Some of the comedic set pieces do work, such as the house lighting sequence, but as the film comes to its conclusion, it just sort of ends with no real satisfying conclusion. Comedy is in the eye of the beholder, and the movie does have its fans (it is the highest grossing film in the series), but this reviewer is a casual fan at best.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is another Warner title that has never looked great on home video. In 2015, Warner released a 25th Anniversary Blu-ray (included in this set) that was sourced from a new 4K scan of the film, and I assume that is the source transfer used on this UHD release. The 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer retains the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1and adds HDR10 high dynamic range. The results are a slight improvement over the 2015 Blu-ray, but a solid improvement over previous releases. Detail gets a nice uptick, with more defined fabric textures and increased depth to the backgrounds. Colors also get a nice boost, appearing a bit more vivid than they do on the 2015 Blu-ray. Contrast is more defined, bringing out additional detail in the darker sequences. Skin tones do fluctuate occasionally, leaning more orange, but the casual viewer will likely not notice it.

Audio: 4.5/5

Although Warner does not offer a new Dolby Atmos track for the film on this release, we do get a “remastered” 5.1 mix in DTS-HD MA, along with the film’s “original theatrical” stereo mix (also in DTS-HD MA). The “new” 5.1 mix does a better job at prioritizing dialogue to mostly the center channel, offers a slightly wider front soundstage, and throws in a few more discrete surround effects, but it is nothing get overly excited about.

Special Features: 2.5/5

Kudos to Warner for including the very old commentary track on the UHD disc, but with just a little bit more compression here and there, they should have been able to include the theatrical trailer on the BD-66 disc.

UHD Disc
Audio Commentary with Director Jeremiah Chechik, Actors Randy Quaid, Beverly D’Angelo, Johnny Galecki, Mirriam Flynn, and Producer Matty Simmons

Blu-ray Disc
Audio Commentary with Director Jeremiah Chechik, Actors Randy Quaid, Beverly D’Angelo, Johnny Galecki, Mirriam Flynn, and Producer Matty Simmons

Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:24)

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in UHD (where available) on Movies Anywhere.

Overall: 4/5

This holiday favorite has a fairly large fanbase, and releasing it on 4k with a “remastered” 5.1 mix is a nice touch for those fans.

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Published by

Todd Erwin

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View thread (7 replies)

dagover

Agent
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Mar 8, 2017
Messages
38
Real Name
Brian
I've owned the Special Edition dvd for 19 years and decided it's time I upgrade to UHD. I skipped the blu-ray as reviews were not that good. My wife and I aren't fans of the other vacation films (I only remember seeing 2 others), but this one is one we watch over Christmas. It's got some funny scenes, and Galecki is less annoying than anything he's been in since.
 

Konstantinos

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Jan 26, 2014
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Konstantinos
Can anyone explain to me what has happened here? I don't understand.. Why those tracks have been removed? Was it an error initially? I don't remember what was going on in this scene.
Ask3W1a.jpeg

8mViVk4.jpeg
 

JoshZ

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Boston
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Joshua Zyber
Can anyone explain to me what has happened here? I don't understand.. Why those tracks have been removed? Was it an error initially? I don't remember what was going on in this scene.

So weird. Even if that was a production flub, it's not like the scene doesn't provide plenty of excuse for why the hill would have multiple sets of tracks in the snow. How could this have really bothered someone enough that they'd feel the need to digitally erase it?
 

Dave Moritz

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Dave Moritz
I am sure this is the first time I have ever owned it on home video but will have to go through my dvd's later when I am ready to organize them. I did do a large purge of movies on DVD that I had ether upgraded to bluray or 4K bluray but everything was duplicates. I do plan on watching Christmas Vacation soon as I have not seen it in many years.

20221117_170416.jpg
 

ScottJH

Screenwriter
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Messages
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Scott
Can anyone explain to me what has happened here? I don't understand.. Why those tracks have been removed? Was it an error initially? I don't remember what was going on in this scene.
Ask3W1a.jpeg

8mViVk4.jpeg
The shot is at the 50:21 mark. Those lines in the the snow are where the pryotechnics are placed to show how fast Clark is going on the sled/saucer.