National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid, Doris Roberts, Juliette Lewis
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" is a regular staple running throughout the weeks leading up to the Christmas Holidays on TV, much like "A Christmas Story" does. As such practically everyone is familiar with the movie to some degree. Now, to best a shoddy cable broadcast, here we have a high definition version of the film, just in time for the Holidays.

Once again we visit the Griswold's in their wacky little world. This time, Clark (Chevy Chase) is determined to create the perfect Christmas celebration for the family. Despite their constant bickering and despite his wife Ellen's (Beverly D'Angelo) better judgment, he invites his and Ellen's parents to spend the holidays with them.
Immediately the sparks begin to fly and Clark decides that it may be a good idea for him to work on his Christmas decoration. Determined to make this the best day ever, the sets up 25,000 light bulbs around the house but has trouble getting them to light up when his redneck trailer-trash cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) also shows up with his family for the celebration. The whole thing spells disaster and viewers have the chance to see Clark's dream of the perfect Christmas collapses right in front of his eyes.

Like the original "National Lampoon's Vacation" "Christmas Vacation" is filled with great humor and Chevy-isms, making the best of the actor's often understated humor. The story has a good flow and even side characters like the Griswold's neighbors have some great moments.

The 1080p transfer that Warner Home Video is serving up for this holiday on this HD-DVD version is great-looking but not exactly showcase material if that's what you're looking for. It is fairly clean and mostly free of any blemishes or speckles. At times the transfer has a bit of a soft look about itself, which makes up the majority of the film. There are moments however where the picture is so sharp that you can even see the individual stitches in the embroidery on Clark's baseball hat in medium shots. It all has to do with the film's original elements and cinematography, and this soft look seems to be what the filmmakers intended for the movie to look like. Therefore the transfer on exhibit here is certainly very nicely capturing and reproducing this look and feel.
Colors are vibrant and lush. When he lights up the Christmas lights, the aura is warm and golden, during snow scenes the snow is true white with subtle hues of blue and the interiors shots are rich with warm Christmas like settings.
Black levels are good throughout giving the image very good depth and rendering shadows faithfully at all times.

The movie's original stereo track is provided on the release as high bitrate Dolby Digital Plus track. While a remix would have been nice, the stereo track certainly serves the purpose of the film well and is without detriments of any sort.

As extras Warner Home Video has included the commentary track by Randy Quaid, Beverly D'Angelo and other cast and crew members that was previously included on the special edition DVD. While it is an informative track overall given the wealth of people involved that sad fact of the matter is that Chevy Chase is not included and without him the commentary is simply and clearly lacking a key ingredient.

The only other extra on the disc is the movie's theatrical trailer.
"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is still a lot of fun after all these years. It is without a doubt the most cohesive, entertaining and funny of all the "Vacation" sequels and this HD-DVD version makes for a great stocking stuffer this Christmas – a film for the entire family to enjoy.