National Lampoons Vacation - the 20th Anniversary Special
Edition - on DVD
The first National Lampoon Vacation movie is still the best and after twenty
years it holds up about as well as it did when it was freshly minted.
It isnt the funniest flick on file, but it has its moments.
Re-meet the Griswolds, your average Chicago family bound to drive cross country
to spend their vacation at a Los Angeles theme park.
But of course this is the vacation from hell, otherwise we wouldnt have
much of a movie!
Written by John Hughes, and directed by Harold Ramis, Vacation introduces us
to father Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), mother Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), son
Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall), and daughter Audrey (Dana Barron). They pile into
dads new car (bought at the films opening in a scene that foreshadows
the sort of mayhem to come) and head for Walley World.
Along the way, the plan is to sample some of Americana at its best, as well
as some family business at its worst.
That family business includes a stop with loser kinfolk led by Randy Quaid,
where they get saddled with doddering old Aunt Edna who needs a ride home, which
just happens to be on the way. She brings along her dog, which sets up a couple
of the funnier moments of the movie.
Of course everything goes wrong, from the family getting lost in the wrong
part of a big city, to car troubles and ripoffs, bored and unruly (and stoned)
kids, and an American Graffiti-like sexual fantasy as Christie Brinkleys
path crosses Clarks repeatedly during the voyage much as Suzanne Somers
did to Richard Dreyfuss in Graffiti.
They finally get to Walley World, but of course their troubles dont end
The Griswolds are a nice family. Clark means well, which is all that matters
to liberals, but hes rather inept. Ellen is a good wife and mother, though
the trials and tribulations through which she and the family go are enough to
strain the strongest of relationships.
Chase and DAngelo are good in their roles, and have good chemistry together.
And were treated to some great co-star and cameo parts from Quaid, Coca,
Eugene Levy, John Candy and others.
This is arguably the funniest of the Vacation movies, which seemed to increasingly
suffer from sequelitis, and its still worth a view today.
And Warners has given the movie an excellent DVD treatment, featuring an all
new digital transfer - and it shows. The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen,
16x9 TV compatible, and though theres some grain, overall the picture
is very good. Images are sharp and detailed, colors are rich.
Audio, Dolby Digital mono, is unremarkable, however. Theres nothing really
wrong with it, but it would have been interesting to see (hear?) a remixed Dolby
Digital 5.1 surround option.
Extras include a new introduction featuring Chase, Quaid and producer Matty
Simmons as well as a running gang commentary by various cast and
crew members. Theres also a family truckster featurette gallery
which has its moments but which is for the most part rather lame.
Still, theyve probably given this laughable but lightweight flick its
due, and thats okay with us.
National Lampoons Vacation, the 20th Anniversary Special Edition, from
Warner Home Video
99 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly DAngelo, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, John
Candy, Christie Brinkley
Produced by Matty Simmons
Written by John Hughes, Directed by Harold Ramis
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