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4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 5 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • 80s comedy classic 'Vacation' shines in 4K; extras disappoint.

    Vacation 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Warner Bros.' 4K restoration of 'National Lampoon's Vacation' wows with vivid detail, natural colors, and filmic texture, making it a must-have for fans.

  • Audio
  • The audio tracks, mainly DTS-HD mono and 2.0, impress with clear dialogues and detailed soundscapes, offering a polished, era-appropriate listening experience with no demand for improvement.

  • Extra
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation 4K release includes previous Blu-ray's audio commentary and digital code, but lacks new extras and misses the comprehensive features of the 30th Anniversary edition.

  • Movie
  • Chevy Chase's 'National Lampoon's Vacation' hilariously captures the disasters of a family road trip, blending absurd comedy with heartfelt moments.

    Video: 94

    National Lampoon's "Vacation," an iconic comedy from the 1980s, has been given a commendable upgrade in its latest 4K UHD Blu-ray release by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. This release showcases the film with an impeccable 4K video quality that far surpasses previous home video iterations. The transfer, leveraging a fresh 2160p/HDR restoration, likely from a new OCN scan, presents a significant enhancement in fine detail, filmic texture, and color fidelity. The application of HDR enriches the visual experience without over-saturation, maintaining the film's original aesthetic. Notably, the 1.85:1 aspect ratio is honored for the first time in home video format, delivering a more authentic viewing experience. The grain management is subtly executed, preserving the film’s natural look while ensuring that details remain sharp and clear even in its fine-grain stock, which is only occasionally softened.

    The dynamic range of this release notably improves upon older masters, with clear gains in color enhancement that respect flesh tones, and offer a vibrant portrayal of the film's mix of earthy tones alongside pops of bold colors like the red Ferrari and the pea green family Truckster. Nighttime scenes benefit from deep, inky black levels without any evidence of crushing, showcasing the careful balance in enhancing the film’s lighting and contrast. Wide-angle shots particularly shine, displaying brilliant hues and landscapes with a clarity that celebrates the film's scenic road trip essence. The preservation of grain texture contributes to the organic, filmic quality of the image, enhancing both close-up detail and wide panoramic views.

    Warner’s encoding on a BD-66 dual-layered disc ensures a near-flawless presentation with minimal compression issues. The enhancement in depth of field and clarity brings out incredible detail across the board—from facial features to landscapes—rendering Vacation's visuals in a manner that respects its cinematic origins while breathing new life into its picturesque journey. Colors are vivid yet natural, black levels are deep and nuanced, and flesh tones are consistently natural across various lighting conditions. This 4K UHD presentation sets a new standard for how beloved classics should be treated in the modern era of home video releases, offering an upgrade that is as visually pleasing as it is faithful to the film’s original look and feel.

    Audio: 88

    The audio presentation of the 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Vacation" delivers through its DTS-HD Master Audio mono and 2.0 tracks, offering a blend of vintage audio fidelity with modern clarity. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack, although a singular dimensional experience, impresses with its defining detail in dialogue, music, and various sounds. The vocal reproduction maintains good quality, showcasing the higher resolution's strength in separating and detailing each audio element with an open expression that feels fresh despite the soundtrack's age. The addition of the DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mix brings a slightly enhanced sonic detail and dynamic range, offering a clean two-channel split that enriches the original mono's limitations without straying from the era-specific charm. Notably, Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" and June Pointer's "Little Boy Sweet" benefit from this upgrade, gaining a weighty presence within the soundstage.

    The 2.0 track, while not leaping to the heights of a 5.1 surround sound, markedly improves upon the previous mono output. It provides a wider dynamic range, allowing for brighter song cues and more distinct sound effects, proving robust for a stereo mix. Dialogue remains consistently clear across both tracks, ensuring that the film's humorous and iconic lines are delivered with crispness. However, the update to a 2.0 mix left some longing for a more ambitious multi-channel upgrade that could have fully exploited the depth and richness of the film's audio palette.

    Subtitles in English (SDH), French, and Spanish are provided, enhancing accessibility for a broader audience. Despite these improvements and the solid base provided by the mono track—the same attached to standard Blu-ray releases—the dynamic range of music and overall sound mix stands out, showcasing richly rendered tracks that elevate the film’s entertaining moments without overshadowing them. The audio presentation, while restrained by its original recording, demonstrates a thoughtful balance and upgrade to the film's beloved soundscape, albeit leaving room for potential further enhancements in future releases.

    Extra: 68

    The 40th Anniversary 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "National Lampoon’s Vacation" offers a somewhat disappointing array of extra features, particularly compared to what was available on the 30th Anniversary edition. Fans looking for an expansive collection of new insights or behind-the-scenes content will find the offerings sparse. The sole extra of note is an audio commentary track, featuring director Harold Ramis, actors Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and producer Matty Simmons. This track, while providing interesting commentary from the film's key personalities, is not a new addition and has been carried over from previous Blu-ray editions. The packaging boasts new artwork but misses an opportunity to include previously cherished content such as the extensive 85-minute documentary from the 30th Anniversary release. Additionally, a digital code is provided, but the overall package feels like a missed opportunity to celebrate the film's 40th anniversary with more depth and fanfare.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary: A feature-length commentary with Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and producer Matty Simmons.
    • Digital Code: A redeemable code for a digital copy of the movie.

    Movie: 88

    National Lampoon's Vacation, the timeless 1983 comedy directed by Harold Ramis and penned by John Hughes, embarks viewers on the tumultuous road trip of the Griswold family, led by Chevy Chase's inimitable Clark Griswold. Transitioning to 4K UHD Blu-ray to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Warner Bros. brings this iconic piece of cinematic hilarity into the high-definition era, albeit without the inclusion of the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray extras. This eagerly anticipated release shines a spotlight on the film’s enduring wit, spotlighting Clark's futile attempts at orchestrating the perfect family getaway. From a disastrously chosen car to unforeseeable mishaps en route to Walley World, the movie captures the quintessential American family vacation with a blend of charm and absurd comedy, underscored by the excellent performances of Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid.

    The seamless blend of slapstick comedy and heartfelt moments cements National Lampoon's Vacation as a seminal work in American film comedy. The dynamic between Chase and D’Angelo offers a convincing glimpse into married life, enriched with laughter and trials. Despite its moments of dated humor, notably a misguided detour through St. Louis, the film's exploration of familial bonds and the sheer determination of Clark Griswold render it a compelling narrative of relentless optimism. Even as the Griswolds' journey unravels into chaos, it's their unbreakable spirit that resonates, drawing audiences into a whirlwind of emotion and hilarity.

    Arriving on UHD without accompanying Blu-ray extras somewhat diminishes the allure for collectors seeking a comprehensive package. However, the film’s transfer to 4K is a testament to its immutable charm and comedic brilliance four decades on. Despite some elements that may not have aged gracefully, Vacation's humor remains surprisingly timeless. Its portrayal of familial perseverance in the face of incessant setbacks continues to inspire laughter and empathy, cementing its position as not just an artifact of '80s cinema but a perennial favorite capable of captivating new generations. It is more than just a film; it’s a cultural touchstone that encapsulates the chaotic joy of American road trip vacations with an authenticity that few can parallel.

    Total: 79

    National Lampoon's Vacation, the iconic 80s comedy crafted by John Hughes and directed by Harold Ramis, remains a benchmark in comedic cinema, resonating with audiences who have cherished its humor over the decades. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings this beloved film to the forefront of modern viewing with its release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. This edition showcases an outstanding 4K video transfer that breathes new life into the film's visuals, complemented by a DTS-HD 2.0 stereo sound that, while retaining its original audio charm, delivers clarity and depth. Despite its significant audiovisual upgrades, the release is somewhat marred by its sparse supplemental features, offering mainly a digital code and a rather dated commentary track without additional insights into the film’s enduring legacy or production anecdotes.

    While the film itself has not aged a day, humorously depicting family bonds and misadventures with Chevy Chase at the helm, the 4K UHD package presents a mixed bag. The visual upgrade to HDR is undeniably the best presentation of the film to date, highlighting its memorable performances, scenes, and locations with remarkable clarity and color enhancement. However, collectors and fans may find the lack of comprehensive bonus material and the omission of a Blu-ray copy as downsides. Though the SteelBook edition adds a bit of collectible flair, it doesn't compensate for these shortcomings, leaving fans wishing for a more robust anniversary edition that pays proper homage to this cinematic treasure.

    In conclusion, Warner Bros.' 4K UHD release of National Lampoon's Vacation offers a near-definitive audiovisual experience that makes it a compelling purchase for ardent fans and 4K enthusiasts. The film retains its comedic brilliance and charm, enhanced by superior video and sound quality. However, the release falls short in celebrating the film's legacy comprehensively, lacking in bonus content and supplementary features that would otherwise enrich this classic's home video resurrection. It's a worthwhile update for those looking to experience the movie in unparalleled quality, though it remains chiefly recommended for fans committed to upgrading their collections.