European Vacation (National Lampoon's) (1985)

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Released 11-Jun-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Chevy Chase (Actor)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 93:55
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4 Directed By Amy Heckerling
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Cheryl Chase
Beverly D'Angelo
Dana Hill
Jason Lively
Victor Lanoux
Eric Idle
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Charles Fox


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     The 1980s was a decade that produced a lot of things that cannot be replicated any more, without being laughed at for all the wrong reasons. Included in that were a mass of films that all followed a certain formula: Cheesy one liners, clumsy physical comedy, bad fashion, a bit of T&A, and that irresistible 80s electronic-drum-beat-backed music. These were some of the films that I grew up with. One of my favourites from this list was Harold Ramis National Lampoon’s Vacation, which grossed a decent $61 million at the US box office back in 1983.

    Due to its success, a sequel was inevitable (to be followed by another 2 later on). John Hughes returned to co-write America’s favourite family in their second adventure, and Amy Heckerling (after the success of Fast Times at Ridgemont High) was hired to replace Ramis in the director’s chair.

    In their second adventure, Clark Wilhelm Griswold Jr. (Chevy Chase), his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and their children Russ (Jason Lively) and Audrey (Dana Hill) win the grand prize on game show ‘Pig In A Poke’: an all-expenses paid European Vacation. After having to persuade Audrey to leave her lover, Jack, behind in the states, they head off for their first stop - England. Running amok the way only the Griswold’s can, they continue on to Paris, Germany and Rome. The film also features cameos from such great British comedians as Mel Smith, Robbie Coltrane and the hilarious Eric Idle.

    This is no Citizen Kane; it’s just plain good old 80s fun. If you’ve never seen any of these films before, then you will not find too much to like in European Vacation, but to those fans out there, like me, it’s still as good as ever. What would the world be without the Griswolds anyway? (that was a rhetorical question by the way).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer isn't too bad for an unrestored 17-year-old film. This DVD features another Region 4 NTSC transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Expecting worse treatment than the film was given, I was surprised at how decent it actually looked. With an overall slightly faded look, the transfer was not as sharp as recent films, which is to be expected. Shadow detail was also not perfect, but never became obviously lacking.

    The colours actually came across quite well - not really vibrant, but not as dulled as one would expect. Flesh tones seemed fairly natural, and never excessively red.

    There appeared to be no obvious MPEG artefacts in the transfer at all. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for film artefacts. Mainly during the film's opening title sequence, quite frequent dirt and scratches marred the transfer. The entire film experienced a hint of grain throughout, but as soon as the opening titles finish, it becomes barely noticeable.

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

Audio

     If you were buying this disc to show off your sound system, you’ll be considerably upset (which is incredibly unlikely anyway). That being said, it gets the job done just fine.

    This is a very limited audio transfer, being Dolby Digital 1.0 (mono) in English and French. Interestingly, the commentary track (Dolby Digital 2.0) contains more channels than the audio tracks.

    Dialogue was always clear, and never became distorted. There were no problems with audio sync.

    The film’s score is by Charles Fox. The real highlight to the film’s soundtrack is its 80s songs, in particular “Holiday Road" performed by Lindsey Buckingham and “Some Like It Hot" performed by Power Station. All music came across clearly, but was limited to the centre speaker only because of the monaural nature of this soundtrack.

    The only downfall to the audio transfer is that it features no action from the surround speakers or the subwoofer. Even your 2 main front speakers will be asleep, unless you listen to the commentary track.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The fantastic "Pig In A Poke" song loops over a posed photo of the Griswolds on the main menu.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Film highlights only for Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, screenwriters John Hughes and Robert Klane, and director Amy Heckerling.

Audio Commentary

    This is the reason I was anticipating this DVD. The screen-specific commentary track is from “Sparky” himself - Chevy Chase. Not as active as I would have liked, Chevy only pipes in every now and then with a few interesting comments, but it is still worth a listen. Speaking highly of his relationship with D’Angelo, I was shocked to hear him say that the actress that played Audrey passed away recently. Pointing out certain gags that he likes, Chevy is obviously still proud of the Vacation films. I think that he talks as much as he can about his experiences with the films, but the gaps between interesting comments tend to get a bit tedious.

Theatrical Trailer (1.25)

    The film’s theatrical trailer presented exactly the same as the film: 1.85:1 16x9, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.

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 and Region 4 versions of this disc are identical.

Summary

     Being part of the 80s, and part of my childhood, I can still get a kick out of watching the Griswold's many adventures. Newcomers to most films from that fabulous decade can never appreciate them for what makes them gold. Fans out there should get this disc for sure.

    The video transfer is not too bad considering.

    The audio transfer is a let-down, if only due to its limited channels.

    The extra features are fairly limited, with a commentary track that is worth a listen for fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Friday, June 28, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayTeac 82cm 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
Speakers5 Sony speakers; Sherwood 12" 100w Powered Subwoofer

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