The Great Outdoors (1988)

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Released 18-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer-1:39
Teaser Trailer-1:09
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 86:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Howard Deutch

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Dan Aykroyd
John Candy
Stephanie Faracy
Annette Bening
Chris Young
Ian Giatti
Hilary Gordon
Rebecca Gordon
Robert Prosky
Zoaunne LeRoy
Lucy Deakins
Nancy Lenehan
John Bloom
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Thomas Newman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Titling
French Titling
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
German Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, wait until after the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    When you've planned a special family vacation, a chance to enjoy the great outdoors with your sons, the last thing you want to see is your loud-mouth brother-in-law rolling up with his family to join you, right? That's how Chet Ripley (John Candy) feels when he sees Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd) drive up in his Mercedes (with the number plates "Roman-1"). But Chet's an easy-going guy, so he lets his wife talk him into making the best of things. After all, how bad can it get? He finds out...

    This is a somewhat episodic film, feeling at times as though it were a series of skits: the one with the waterskiing, the one with the bat, the one with the steak, and so on. But that doesn't interfere with enjoying it — I rather like the running gag with the raccoons (if you like them, too, then stick around until the credits finish).

    Dan Aykroyd has made a few movies where he has played a character who is an annoying jerk; Neighbors (with John Belushi) is another one. For some reason I find these movies quite amusing from the second time I watch them onwards; the first time I'm not too thrilled. What that means is that I recommend you watch this film twice before you decide that you hate it. By the way, there are three songs in the soundtrack that credit a certain Elwood Blues...

    This is a straightforward comedy with a bit of heart. I wasn't surprised to see that it was written by John Hughes — it has that sort of feel to it. This is the man who wrote National Lampoon's Vacation and Christmas Vacation, and many other comedies. I don't think he'd count this film as one of his best, but it's far from his worst (there are a couple of nominations in that category...).

    In all, this is a pleasant film to watch when you don't want to think too hard.

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Transfer Quality


    This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, but is NOT 16x9 enhanced. That's close to the right aspect ratio (this was originally 1.85:1), but the wrong idea. With the increasing penetration of widescreen displays, it's silly to produce a widescreen transfer that isn't 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is soft, but not offensive. Shadow detail is limited, but adequate. The softness looks like film grain, but is more likely to be a cheap transfer (a recycled laserdisc transfer perhaps) or over-compression. There's no obvious low-level noise.

    Colour is quite good — there are some nice rich colours, quite reasonably rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no significant film artefacts, just the occasional spot or fleck. Surprisingly for a fairly soft transfer, there is some quite obvious aliasing, but it doesn't interfere too much with enjoying the film. There is no significant moiré. There's some shimmer in backgrounds, but no obvious MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in five languages, including English. I watched the English captions. They are abbreviated every so often; they are well-timed, and easy to read.

    The disc is single sided and single layered. That means there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The soundtrack is provided in five languages, including English. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded, at 192kbps.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are no lapses in audio sync.

    The score, from Thomas Newman, is nothing special, but not offensive. It is supported by some popular songs.

    The surrounds are not used in any significant way. The subwoofer is not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is static and silent, but it is simple and easy to use.

Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    A straightforward trailer that gives a fairly accurate impression of the movie.

Teaser Trailer (1:09)

    This is quite blurry and spotty.

R4 vs R1

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

    This film came out on DVD in Region 1 years ago. As far as I can tell, the R1 disc and this one have exactly the same features — the R1 is in the same aspect ratio, and is just as lacking in 16x9 enhancement. The only difference is that the R4 is PAL instead of NTSC, and we get three more languages than they do.

    By all reports, the transfers are pretty much equal, too. Sounds like a draw.


    A lightweight comedy for a time when you don't feel like thinking, given a fairly basic presentation on DVD.

    The video quality is adequate.

    The audio quality is adequate.

    The extras are negligible.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, December 03, 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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