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Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Christmas Vacation (National Lampoon's) (1989)

Christmas Vacation (National Lampoon's) (1989) (NTSC)

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Released 11-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Biographies-Cast & Crew
Notes-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-National Lampoon's Vacation
Trailer-National Lampoon's European Vacation; Vegas Vacation
Notes-Reel Recommendations
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 96:58
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,4 Directed By Jeremiah Chechik
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Chevy Chase
Beverly D'Angelo
Randy Quaid
Miriam Flynn
William Hickey
Mae Questel
Diane Ladd
John Randolph
E. G. Marshall
Doris Roberts
Juliette Lewis
Johnny Galecki
Case ?
RPI ? Music Angelo Badalamenti


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

National Lampoon's Vacation was a very silly movie that was surprisingly funny. I can't explain it, because I would not normally find this kind of stuff funny. The sequel, National Lampoon's European Vacation, isn't as funny, but again I cannot put my finger on the reason. This film is the third in the series, and the funniest by far.

Each film in this series concerns a holiday in the lives of the Griswold family. We go on holidays with Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase), his long-suffering wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), and their children Rusty and Audrey. The children are played by different actors in each film; in this film we have a young Juliette Lewis as Audrey, and Johnny Galecki as Rusty probably the best pair we've seen in the roles. The two regular members of their extended family are Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and Cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) (Eddie's wife) they appear in three of the four Vacation films.

The basics of this film are simple enough. Clark is a family man, who is something of a klutz. He has decided that this Christmas will be a good old-fashioned family Christmas, and he is determined that everyone will have a good time, even if he has to move heaven and earth to make it happen. His parents, and Ellen's parents, are coming to stay. Uninvited cousins Eddie and Catherine show up, with two of their kids and their dog, in the RV that is their home. Aunt Bethany and Uncle Lewis are invited for Christmas Dinner, too. So it's a houseful of family, and almost everything that could go wrong...

There's plenty of slapstick humour in this film. If you've seen any of the Vacation series, you'll know what to expect. One of the bonuses of this film is the Griswold's next-door neighbours, Todd (Nicholas Guest) and Margo (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) they are a pair of yuppie snobs, so we can laugh when the various disasters befall them (I love the demise of their Bang & Olufsen stereo...).

If anyone is keeping track, the obligatory sex object in this Vacation movie is played by Nicolette Scorsese (I don't know if she's any relation) she may not be Christie Brinkley, but she's no pain to look at.

This is humour at its basic level, but I think the saving grace of it all is how straight Chevy Chase plays the well-meaning Clark. I can recommend this film, but not this particular presentation of it.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

You know what a VHS tape is, right? You know what a DVD is, too, right? And you can tell the difference between the two, I'm sure. Not in this case.

It's really annoying to see that screen at the start that says: "This movie has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your screen." Strange it doesn't fit my 16x9 screen. To make things worse, this disc is NTSC. And to really add insult to injury, it's not a very good transfer.

This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1. It's not an open-matter transfer the framing makes it clear that this is pan-and-scan.

This image varies from soft to very soft. Shadow detail is fairly restricted, with darker areas of the image dropping off into black rather too quickly. There's a little bit of low-level noise.

Colour is good, at least. There are some nicely saturated colours, and no colour-related artefacts.

There are some film artefacts, but nothing huge small spots and flecks, but nothing notable. There's a lot of mosquito noise in the backgrounds, though. There's a fair bit of aliasing, and more than a little moire (the wallpaper doesn't help), but there are no major MPEG artefacts.

There are subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. I checked the English subtitles they are fairly accurate (although they subtitle Uncle Lewis as Louis), well-timed, and easy to read.

The disc is single-sided and single layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is provided in English, French and Spanish. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded, but it's not clear why even though it's a 2.0 soundtrack, it sounds mostly mono. The other two are Dolby Digital 1.0.

The dialogue is clear enough, with no obvious audio sync problems.

The score is nothing special, but adequate to the task it's credited to Angelo Badalamenti.

The surrounds aren't given anything noticeable to do by this "surround-encoded" soundtrack. The subwoofer is not required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menu is static and silent we don't get to see it until the film is over, or until we press the Menu button.

Cast and Crew Bios

We get brief biographies and filmographies for each of:

Notes Behind the Scenes

Six pages of text about how the film came to pass.

Trailers

Trailers for all of the Vacation films:

Recommendations

Four pages, each showing four movie posters.

R4 vs R1

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

The Region 1 version of this is identical, which shouldn't be a surprise this is, after all, the R1 transfer. The only difference is that the R1 is packaged in a snapper case.

Summary

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a movie that's a lot of fun, given a shoddy DVD presentation. I was asked "but isn't it better than nothing?" I think the answer is no, because without this rotten release there's always hope that they might release it on a good disc; as it is, there's less chance we'll get a good one any time soon.

The video quality is fairly poor, even for an NTSC pan-and-scan transfer.

The audio quality is quite reasonable.

The extras are all text, except for the four trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, May 09, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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