Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 12/23/00
1989 (1997) - Warner Bros.
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
97 mins, PG-13, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered,
Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailers, production notes, cast
and crew filmographies, film-themed menu screens, scene access (29
chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), French and Spanish (DD 1.0)
subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned
Remember the gold old
days when Chevy Chase was actually funny? He had some classic
moments on Saturday Night Live,
and he took a few memorable turns in Caddyshack
and Neil Simon's Seems Like Old Times.
Even the first National Lampoon's
Vacation movie was pretty dang funny. This one, however,
is just DOA. I mean, I just didn't find it funny in the least. Okay
- to be fair I should say that there WERE funny moments, but there
weren't enough of them to make the movie worth viewing.
We all know the Griswold family by now. There's Clark (Chevy
Chase), Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and their two children that don't
seem to age, Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and Audrey (Juliette Lewis).
This time around, there's no road trip to bring mayhem into their
lives. They've decided instead to spend their Christmas holiday at
home and invite their extended family for some additional antics.
Some of the sequences in the film are funny. I chuckled while Clark
was trying to put up the nuclear-powered Christmas lights and during
the attack squirrel sequence. And Randy Quaid is always good for a
laugh or two as Cousin Eddie. But more often than not, the jokes
were just retreads from previous films or they just weren't funny.
The problem with this go-around with the Griswolds, is that the
characters and their antics seem all too familiar and predictable.
They were funny the first two times, because we didn't know the
characters all that well. Now, we know what to expect - we know
Clark is going to lose his temper and fall many, many times, we know
somebody's going to get electrocuted and we know that Audrey is
going to be a vacant air head. The strange thing, is that the same
scriptwriter of the other Vacation
films, John Hughes, wrote this one. He's written a lot of great
films before this one (Planes, Trains and
Automobiles, Sixteen Candles
and The Breakfast Club). But
this Vacation was a dull,
lifeless trip. You know you're in trouble, when you're half way
through the movie and you want to watch the credit sequence again.
As blasé as the movie is, it's rivaled only by an even less
impressive DVD presentation. The picture is a VHS quality pan and
scan hack job, that leaves a LOT to be desired. The print used for
the transfer is dirty and exhibits a noticeable amount of grain.
Color detail is scant and produces many shots that look blurry or
overly soft, and there's a more than enough artifacting to create a
major distraction. The audio is a little better, but it's still
nothing to write home about. The English Dolby Surround track has
its moments of activity (most notably during the sledding scene),
but otherwise it just gets the job done. Dialogue is stable and
maintained in the center speaker, and surround usage is almost
completely devoted to the music track. Mono tracks in French and
Spanish are also included.
There's a small handful of extras on the disc, but there's really
nothing that exciting. Not only do you get the trailer for this
film, but you'll also find trailers for the other
Vacation films (Vacation,
European Vacation and
Vegas Vacation). There's also
a small set of production notes on the film and a rather lengthy
series of filmographies on the cast and crew of the film.
Christmas Vacation isn't as
funny as the first two films in the series, but if you judge it by
it's $70+ million box-office take, it does have an audience. That
audience will undoubtedly be displeased with this DVD. Even if you
like the movie, I can't really recommend this disc (unless you can
find it for a bargain-basement price). It's one of Warner's early
format crossover discs, and it's pretty bad. If you want a better
National Lampoon's film, rent the first Vacation