National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The nature of the source held back the visuals a little, but overall, the image seemed strong nonetheless.
For the most part, sharpness was satisfying. Some wide shots appeared slightly soft – such as the view of the Griswolds as they trudged toward the pine tree forest – but most of the flick seemed accurate and well-defined.
Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws created no distractions. The movie exhibited light grain, and I witnessed no specks, marks or other problems.
Colors worked nicely. The movie opted for a natural palette that leaned toward a warm holiday feel.
Those left us without many dynamic hues, but they remained full and vivid. HDR gave the colors added range and power.
Black levels looked deep and rich, while shadows seemed well developed. HDR added impact to whites and contrast. I felt this turned into a consistently impressive presentation.
As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, don’t expect a great deal from this mix, as it seemed good but not special. Unsurprisingly, most of the material emanated from the front speakers. Some decent use of directional dialogue occurred, and elements moved effectively from one channel to another.
The score presented adequate stereo imaging. The score featured fairly decent spread, but the songs worked less well. I suspect that stemmed from the source, though.
Effects mostly focused on general ambience, though they came to life moderately during some of the flick’s big slapstick scenes. The same held true for the surrounds, as those played a moderate role in the proceedings and became active only briefly during a few comedic “action” pieces.
Audio quality showed its age but seemed satisfactory overall. Speech appeared reasonably natural and distinctive, and I discerned no concerns connected to intelligibility. Music sounded fairly solid and general clarity was usually fine.
Effects made the most use of the subwoofer, as some of the big slapstick bits kicked in pretty good bass. Otherwise, those elements appeared acceptably accurate. This was never a great mix but it suited the material.
How does the 4K UHD compare with the remastered Blu-ray from 2015? Whereas the 4K comes with a 5.1 remix vs. the BD’s 2.0 – which also appears here – no one should expect real differences.
Actually, some scenes felt more active via the 2.0, such as during the climax. In any case, both seemed very similar most of the time, so don’t expect much from the 5.1 remix.
Visuals showed obvious improvements, though, as the 4K brought superior delineation, blacks and colors. I liked the 2015 BD but the 4K clearly surpassed it.
On the 4K disc, we get an audio commentary from actors Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Miriam Flynn, and Johnny Galecki plus director Jeremiah Chechik and producer Matty Simmons. All six of them sit together for their running, screen-specific track.
Putting all of them in one place gives their chat a nicely rollicking and lively tone. However, it doesn’t mean we learn much about the movie.
The actors provide occasional insights about their characters – mostly as D’Angelo relates struggles related to her hair – and Chechik adds the greatest level of detail via some production anecdotes. D’Angelo also gives us the most tantalizing teaser when she states that at the start of each Vacation flick, she and Chevy Chase love each other, but they come to hate each other by the end of production. Unfortunately, she doesn’t expand on this nugget.
Mostly the participants watch the movie and laugh, and that tendency becomes especially heavy during the film’s second half, and gaps become more substantial during that period as well. The track remains moderately entertaining, mostly because the folks seem to enjoy themselves, but you won’t learn much about the production.
The package includes a Blu-ray copy that replicates the 2015 remaster. It features the same audio commentary as the 4K and adds the movie’s trailer.
I don’t think Christmas Vacation offers the worst holiday movie I’ve seen, but it seems pretty blah nonetheless. It just rehashes the same old formula and doesn’t do anything particularly amusing or noteworthy. The 4K UHD offers very good picture as well as satisfying audio and a mediocre commentary. This becomes the best presentation of the movie to date.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION