Vacation (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 23-Dec-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Featurette-Return to Walley World
Featurette-Making Of-The Griswold Odyssey
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 99:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Francis Daley
Jonathan M. Goldstein
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ed Helms
Christina Applegate
Skyler Gisondo
Steele Stebbins
Chris Hemsworth
Leslie Mann
Chevy Chase
Beverly D'Angelo
Charlie Day
Catherine Missal
Ron Livingston
Norman Reedus
Keegan-Michael Kay
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Mark Mothersbaugh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Danish
Finnish
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Talks of a soft reboot of the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise started all the way back in 2010, with John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein tapped to write and direct the movie, but production wound up stalling. However, the unexpected runaway success of 2013’s We’re the Millers evidently prompted Warner Bros. to finally give 2015’s Vacation the green light, as this is a blatant attempt to ape the earlier movie, right down to the modest budget, an R rating, and a similar release slot. Happily, this new Vacation is a lot better than it had a right to be, passing the most pivotal litmus test for a comedy: it’s actually funny. Even though it lacks the sheer wit and ingenuity of the immortal 1983 classic that started it all, it’s a worthy follow-up, effortlessly surpassing both European Vacation and Vegas Vacation. This is exactly the type of crude R-rated comedy that critics love to hate, but I cannot deny that it worked for me.

    Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) is all grown up, caring for a family of his own while working as a budget airline pilot. Every year, Rusty takes wife Debbie (Christina Applegate), and sons James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins) to a cabin for a holiday, but the annual tradition has grown stale. Hoping to reinvigorate his marriage and reconnect with the kids, Rusty decides to take his family on a road trip across the country to Walley World in order to recreate the memorable vacation he took thirty years earlier. Although his wife and sons are reluctant, Rusty fearlessly leads the gang on a series of misadventures, driving the bizarre Tartan Prancer minivan for the interstate journey. As to be expected, everything soon begins to go wrong, with Rusty trying to maintain his sanity as the accidents pile up, while the siblings fight and Debbie has her own worries.

    Vacation undeniably starts out on the right foot, opening with a montage of old holiday photos set to Lindsey Buckingham’s song “Holiday Road,” which is essentially the franchise’s anthem. Better, the photographs that are shown here are often very funny, containing quirks that had this reviewer in stitches. Despite the humour here being raunchier than its 1983 counterpart, Daley and Goldstein display a palpable reverence to the original film, making no bones about the fact that their movie is more or less a retread. There’s even some amusing meta dialogue, while the script also acknowledges that Rusty is idealising past events, given the disastrous outcome of the first trip to Walley World in 1983. There are a few direct call-backs to its predecessor as well, including a scene of Rusty encountering a flirtatious beauty in a convertible, but Vacation establishes its own vibe and identity, and doesn’t merely come across as a beat-by-beat remake of the comedy that John Hughes and Harold Ramis pulled off three decades ago.

    Daley and Goldstein make their directorial debut here, after having penned Horrible Bosses and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 together. (If the rest of the world is willing to forget that The Incredible Burt Wonderstone exists, that’s fine with me.) Standing in stark contrast to most recent comedies which are agonisingly overlong, Vacation moves by at an agreeable clip, rarely dwelling on a joke or comedic set-piece across its 95-minute runtime. Recurring jokes also hit their mark - the ongoing trials of the oddball Tartan Prancer are uproarious, with a remote control of baffling, mysterious buttons which serve questionable purposes. Easily offended viewers are advised to steer clear since this Vacation increases the lewd and crude factor, but thankfully the freedom of an R rating from the MPAA affords the humour an added punch. Not everything works, however - a predictable scene of the Griswolds swimming in raw sewerage really should have been excised, and some moments are perhaps a bit too mean-spirited.

    The fourth actor to assume the role of Rusty Griswold (after Anthony Michael Hall, Jason Lively, Johnny Galecki and Ethan Embry), Helms is suitably endearing and earnest, and though he cannot reach the intimidating level of Chevy Chase, he does his job well enough. Christina Applegate, meanwhile, is incredibly appealing as Debbie. Even though Beverly D’Angelo was always likeable as Ellen Griswold, she was simply the straight woman to Chase, but Applegate is given far more to do here, taking the comedy spotlight on a number of occasions. Equally valuable are the supporting players; Skyler Gisondo plays the more introspective son James well enough, while Steele Stebbins delivers a lot of laughs at the crude, foul-mouthed, bullying younger brother with a never-ending supply of acerbic one-liners. Plenty of other recognisable actors also make appearances, including Chris Hemsworth who’s a scene-stealing riot as an over-the-top weatherman. Leslie Mann, Charlie Day, Ron Livingston, Keegan-Michael Kay, Norman Reedus and Michael Pena also appear, contributing plenty of colour to the proceedings. And this wouldn’t be a proper Vacation movie without Chase and D’Angelo, who are given the chance to reprise their iconic characters in a smaller capacity. It’s wonderful to see them again, though their scenes aren’t as funny as perhaps they should be.

    Vacation proceeds with comedy logic, yet it makes little sense to nit-pick story or structure of a film like this. What matters is that Daley and Goldstein have created an episodic yet surprisingly cohesive road trip comedy, it’s easy to like the characters, and it delivers on the promise of big laughs. It’s baffling that overlong, subpar comedies like The Heat and Spy were adored by critics, while Vacation was a critical punching bag. For this reviewer’s money, this is an extremely enjoyable sit, and the fact that it’s actually hilarious is a huge deal.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Vacation was shot digitally using Arri Alexa XT cameras, and is framed here in 2.40:1 which is slightly altered from the movie’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Roadshow presents the film in 1080p high definition, using the MPEG-4 AVC video codec, and it looks simply excellent. Razor-sharp and vibrant, it’s hard to imagine the movie looking any better than it does here.

    Colours are exceptionally lively, while the image is beautifully detailed from top to bottom. Clothes look refined and textured, and close-ups of faces reveal every nuance and pore. Equally impressive is the picture’s sharpness, with edges looking precise, even on the tiniest hairs. Luckily, the movie is afforded a healthy bitrate, which permits the image plenty of breathing space. Vacation “pops” in every scene and environment, and the video never succumbs to any bothersome encoding issues. Indeed, no black crush or aliasing is visible here.

    A light layer of noise is visible at times, but it’s never blocky or bothersome. Likewise, the image never looks too smooth, as it maintains incredible detail in every part of the frame. At a distance, Vacation looks flawless, and it still looks enormously impressive even if you sit closer to the television. Roadshow/Warner Bros. are definitely one of the better distributors when it comes to mastering movies for Blu-ray.


Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

    Luckily, the audio mix is about as strong as the video presentation, though this is still a comedy movie, so do not expect a bombastic soundtrack in the vein of The Avengers. Roadshow offers a handful of audio options, led by a lossless English DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack that does its job extremely well.

    Luckily, dialogue is consistently crisp, and is never overpowered by ambience or music. The movie also features a handful of pop songs, including the Vacation anthem “Holiday Road” and even the Seal song “Kiss from a Rose,” and they sound wonderful in lossless stereo. Sound effects also have impact, with the rumble of the large truck sounding threatening, while a cow getting hit sounds suitably yucky.

    Vacation’s audio is not one for the record books, but it’s a superb track that serves the movie well.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Surround Channel Use
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Extras

    A small but entertaining selection of supplements.

Return to Walley World (HD; 9:54)

    The cast and crew all talk about their love for the Vacation franchise and their desire to make a movie that can stand on its own while still being respectful of its heritage. Shooting with Chase and D’Angelo is covered as well, with Chevy having an enormous amount of fun goofing around both on-set and in interviews. Very entertaining. And it’s priceless seeing Daley and Goldstein dressed in suits with top hats.

The Griswold Odyssey (HD; 18:23)

    This is a fun, funny and brisk behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the movie. Do not expect much meaty insight into the production, though, as this segment mostly compromises of amusing anecdotes and filming stories, punctuated with on-set footage. Topics include the Tartan Prancer minivan, trying to find the Truckster from the original movie, and pretty much every stop that the Griswolds take along their journey. Interestingly, a fair amount of digital effects were employed to remove wires and safety harnesses which are seen in the on-set footage here.

Gag Reel (HD; 1:32)

    Far too short, but this compilation of flubs and improv is thoroughly hilarious.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 12:13)

    Twelve minutes of deleted, extended and alternate scenes that didn’t make the final cut. It’s easy to see why some of these were cut, including an awkward alternate demise of the minivan, but some of the scenes are genuinely side-splitting, including some extra stuff with Chase, as well as Hemsworth’s character having a terrible day on the job. Definitely worth watching.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Our disc is almost a direct port of the American release, only lacking a two-minute featurette entitled "Georgia." Curiously, a similar featurette was also excluded from our local Blu-ray release of Magic Mike XXL. Oh well. It hardly seems worth importing for an extra two minutes, but that's up to you.

Summary

    There is little doubt that Vacation will be polarising, especially since comedy is so subjective. If this type of comedy appeals to you, you'll no doubt laugh as frequently and heartily as I did, but if not, there's no talking to you. Nevertheless, it earns a recommendation from me. Roadshow's Blu-ray release is perfectly adequate, bolstered by an exceptional presentation, though I wish there were more extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
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