Clark Griswold and the rest of the Griswold’s infamous trip to the magical land of Walley World returns to Blu-Ray in a special re-released 30th Anniversary Edition of National Lampoon’s Vacation. Now, you can relive the famous cross-country road trip film that made way for one of National Lampoon’s most successful series’ of all-time. Harold Ramis’ Vacation isn’t as memorable as some of the later entries in the series, but it’s a lot of fun, thanks to Chevy Chase and the rest of the cast.
The Griswold family vacation has one end point — Walley World. Clark Griswold has cemented it in his mind that he and his family will make it to Walley World, no matter how long it takes or what they have to physically do to arrive at their destination. And the reality of what they do eventually put themselves through to get to the famous amusement park is an absolute riot.
Harold Ramis’ National Lampoon’s Vacation is the film that introduced us to the Griswold family and more importantly Chevy Chase’s Clark W. Griswold aka one of the most famed idiots ever to grace the silver screen. The stuff that Clark thinks and does in this particular film are borderline insane, yet downright hilarious and forgivable in every single way.
Vacation may not be the best film of the series, but it certainly sets the bar at a respectable level, with scenes of pure stupidity, thanks to Clark and the rest of his lovable family. One thing Vacation does a great job of is making use of its R rating. The rest of the series quiets down on the vulgar language and nudity, whereas Vacation wears the red band proudly.
Chevy Chase is on his game in Vacation, providing us with a character that is a very special blend of stupid and entertaining. There’s no real reason why you should feel bad for such an idiot, yet Chase gives Clark a much-needed dose of humanity, often playing him off as a misguided buffoon with a heart of gold. Clark is the main attraction for sure, but his wife and two kids certainly help keep the comedy balanced.
Vacation‘s main struggles rest in its plot, which loosely follows the family all around the country as they make their way to Walley World. The other Vacation films feel much tighter in structure and the result is more fine-tuned comedy that rarely skips a beat, while Vacation definitely feels like a diamond in the rough. The later films help take out the early knots found in Vacation, but that doesn’t mean the film is a complete waste.
National Lampoon’s Vacation is simply the entry-level film for what later goes on to become an all-time classic family series of chaos and comedy. The Griswold’s are easily one of the best on-screen families ever and it’s always a joy being able to revisit ground zero and watch how it all started.
WB brings the film to Blu-Ray with the identical 1080p video transfer that can be found on the 2010 release of the film. Grain isn’t overly heavy, but definitely noticeable, while colors appear mostly smooth and saturated. I wouldn’t call this a reference-quality disc or anything, but given the age of the transfer and the age of the film; I’d say this is an average presentation that should please any fan.
The film’s 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a faithful replication of the film’s sound. A few songs from the soundtrack have been replaced, but aside from those minor annoyances I’d say that this film sounds about as good as it ever will.
Here’s where the disc gets a little different than the previous release. The bottom two special features are new to this release, while the top ones are ported over from previous releases:
- Introduction by Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid and Matty Simmons (SD)
- Commentary with Director Harold Ramis, Actors Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron, and Producer Matty Simmons
- Inside Story: National Lampoon’s Vacation (HD)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD)
WB’s 30th Anniversary Edition of National Lampoon’s Vacation is a mighty fine release that boasts good video and audio presentations, plus an okay batch of special features. The Inside Story feature is certainly the selling point of the disc, especially if you already own the previous release. This disc is virtually identical, aside from that new feature and a theatrical trailer.
National Lampoon’s Vacation isn’t the best film of the series. It’s also not the worst. It works best as an introduction to the family in an R-rated manner, which makes way for films that are much funnier. I still found plenty to enjoy and I’m glad that I was able to view the film yet again. Chevy Chase really does steal the show as Clark Griswold, which is arguably one of his best roles ever. Owning this disc all depends on your love for family road trip comedies and more specifically the Griswold’s and their usual antics. That being said, I can’t imagine too many people not enjoying what’s on display here. It’s a fun, entertaining and humorous flick that I’m happy to have in my collection.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.