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Jeremiah S. Chechik
Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid
Writing Credits:
John Hughes

This holiday season, Clark Griswold vows his clan will enjoy "the most fun-filled, old-fashioned, family Christmas ever" - with the usual misadventures along the way.

Box Office:
$25 Million.
Opening Weekend:
$11,750,203 on 1744 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $27.99
Release Date: 11/1/2022

• Audio Commentary With Director Jeremiah Chechik, Producer Matty Simmons, and Actors Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Miriam Flynn and Johnny Galecki
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation [4K UHD] (1989)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 9, 2022)

First we saw the Griswold family go on a cross-country US trip with disastrous results. Next they took on Europe and encountered similarly nutty problems.

With the series’ third installment, we watch the Griswolds celebrate the holiday season in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that some wacky predicaments will ensue?

Unlike the first two flicks, Christmas doesn’t involve a journey. The Griswolds – Clark (Chevy Chase), Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki) - stay home and the fun comes to them.

After a rough trip to secure their tree, they anticipate the arrival of many relatives, as they’ll host both Clark’s parents (John Randolph and Diane Ladd) and Ellen’s (E.G. Marshall and Doris Roberts). The two pairs of elders don’t much care for each other, which causes friction, and since Ellen’s parents also disapprove of Clark, other problems develop.

While Clark tries to create the ideal Christmas, he deals with the family tensions and aggravations caused by his antagonistic yuppie neighbors Todd and Margo Chester (Nicholas Guest and Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Matters complicate further with the unexpected – and unwelcome – arrival of Ellen’s cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his brood. The final straw occurs when Clark’s boss Mr. Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray) doesn’t issue the expected Christmas bonus, which helps set off our hero.

From what I understand, Christmas Vacation maintains a pretty strong fanbase. Frankly, I can’t see why this lame excuse for a holiday flick gets much positive attention, as it seems lackluster at best and pointless at worst.

Without question, the film enjoys a slew of situations that could develop into humorous episodes. The whole issue of the visiting relatives along with house decorating, tree hunting, and other staples of the season lend themselves easily to comedy. Most of us know what those occasions are like and can relate to them, which sets up the gags well.

Unfortunately, Christmas never remotely capitalizes on all of that. Instead, it uses all these situations as little more than chances to toss out trite and predictable slapstick.

Few occasions for physical humor pass without an appearance of someone falling or hurting themselves. That seems to be the filmmakers’ answer to every potentially funny set-up: bring on the pain and the laughs will follow.

The amusement almost never ensues, though, as instead, the gags just fall flat and leave us without much satisfaction. No spark or pizzazz accompanies the development of the jokes or situations here.

The film simply meanders along a loose plot structure, flings out gags at random and hopes they hit the mark. They don’t.

The film makes a number of other misfires as well. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they added the yuppie neighbors other than just because people hate smug characters like them.

They offer an easy target and let us see Clark inflict harm on someone other than himself and his family for once. That’s not a great reason to include them, and their moments contribute nothing to the film.

Clark himself seems noticeably different in Christmas. For the most part, he loses the manic personality of the earlier movies, as this Clark feels surlier and meaner.

For instance, in the film’s first scene, Clark enacts some serious road rage, and other moments early in the flick demonstrate similar nastiness. This character really should remain naïve and benign until he becomes so heavily provoked he can’t take it anymore.

However, the Clark of Christmas starts with a bad attitude. The movie tries to mellow him somewhat as it progresses, but that seems like an odd way to go considering our already-established familiarity with him.

Add to that a climax that does little more than replicate the ending of the original movie and Christmas Vacation feels like a tired enterprise. The film fails to explore many open doors and can’t think of anything better to do than injure characters in an attempt to garner laughs. The movie falls flat the vast majority of the time and goes nowhere.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

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

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