Vegas Vacation (National Lampoon's) (1997) (NTSC)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Notes-Behind The Scenes; On Location
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,4||Directed By||Stephen Kessler|
Warner Home Video
Julio Oscar Mechoso
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, End Credits|
Vegas Vacation is the last entrant in the Vacation series of movies which started in 1980 with the release of National Lampoon's Vacation. The huge success of this movie and the viewer's ability to immediately relate to the Griswold family was to guarantee the release of many more titles in subsequent years. The other titles in the series are National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) and the focus of this particular review, Vegas Vacation (1997).
For those few people not familiar with this particular series, it focuses on the lives and antics of the Griswold family, headed by Clarke "Sparky" W. Griswold (Chevy Chase), the proud father of 2 teenage kids. By his side is his lovely wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), or to be precise Ellen Priscilla Ruth Smith Griswold, and their two children Rusty (Ethan Embry) and Audrey (Marisol Nichols). Clarke is the complete opposite of a conventional father figure. If there is a hard way to do something, then he is your man because he always knows best. Whilst he is continually getting into trouble, he is adored by his wife and he always means well and wants the best for his family, no matter how things turn out.
In this particular episode, Clarke receives a bonus check due to his fantastic work in the long-life food preservatives business. With the money, he decides to take the family on a vacation to . . . you guessed it . . . Las Vegas. Recalling the events of previous vacations, the family is not too keen, at least until Clarke tells Ellen that they are going to exchange their wedding vows again. However, we all know the real reason they are going to Las Vegas is so Clarke can win some money.
The Vegas casinos are not built around winners, and Clarke is no exception. He just ends up getting deeper and deeper into debt. Let's just hope he can pull a magic trick to get himself out of trouble this time around. The fun really begins when his cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) turns up. Oh, I nearly forgot - keep your eye out for the classic scenes involving Wallace Shawn as one of the casino dealers.
The video is your typical NTSC quality and whilst there are few technical problems there is nothing to rave about either.
The transfer is presented in a full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1.
The transfer is quite clear and pleasing to the eye especially when you consider this is an NTSC title. Shadow detail is good also, and a great example can be seen at 20:10. There is mild low level noise.
The colours are strong and bright with the most vibrant examples visible during a performance of the Siegfried & Roy show at around 17:30.
There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Aliasing is rare and mild when it does occur. Film artefacts are also well controlled and very rare. Those that are visible are small and do not detract from the image.
This disc is a single-sided disc and therefore there is no layer change.
This disc offers an acceptable audio track. It is good to see that a Dolby Digital 5.1 version was included. All too often direct NTSC releases get a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, so this was a pleasant surprise.
There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I listened entirely to the English track.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. The effects or music did not drown out the dialogue at any point.
Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.
The musical score by Joel McNeely was heavily balanced towards the front soundstage. In all instances the music should have been opened up to the rears more to provide a more fulfilling effect. This could be attributed in part to the volume problem I mention below.
The surround channels could have been utilised more and for most scenes the rears were given too little volume to hear them with any real effect. Even the casino scenes, which are full of surround activity in reality, are still left with a dominant front soundstage. There are several places where the effects, and to a greater extent the music, are spread across all channels. The first example is at 4:21 as a plane goes overhead. This was well balanced, not only between the left and right channels, but it also ran fluidly from the front soundstage to the rear and beyond into the distance. This is the only exception to the volume problem in the rears - from this point the surrounds were less noticeable. Other not-so-noteworthy sections including surround usage are at 40:36, 73:10 and 75:07.
The subwoofer gets a light workout with the most prominent use towards the end of the feature from 78:01 to 79:00 during a night club scene where you get to feel and hear the thump of the music. Another effect calls upon the sub and you hear it again at 84:48.
|Surround Channel Use|
The main actors are shown here with a small text-based bio complete with a picture. Those featured are;
Gives a very brief run-down of the movie by displaying four pages of text with a graphical image from the movie on each page. If you don't see it you are not missing much.
Maybe this was a requirement to feature their live Vegas show in the movie. It gives a two page textual rundown of their achievements and reads more like a resume than anything. The whole section is displayed in the same format as the Behind The Scenes menu option.
The producer gets three pages to talk about the movie and how it came to be filmed in a real casino rather than on a stage set.
One page to give some background on the two actors that played the Griswold kids, Rusty and Audrey. They replace the previous actors who played these parts, namely Juliette Lewis and Anthony Michael Hall.
Two pages outlining very briefly how production began and what happened on location.
Here we have a trailer in a full-frame aspect ratio just like the main feature. There are more film artefacts and the audio is only English Dolby Digital 2.0.
Four cover images are shown here along with the movie title for the following movies:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Griswolds are always fun to watch and very easy on the brain. If you need a movie for a rainy day then you could certainly do worse than this title.
The video is in NTSC format so make sure your player is capable of playing this title.
The audio is heavy biased towards the front soundstage.
There are a seemingly large number of extras but very little actual content when you finally sit down and take a look at them.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Whatmough Classic Series C31 (Mains); C06 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer|