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Harold Ramis
Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Beverly D'Angelo
Writing Credits:
John Hughes

The Griswold family's cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated.

Box Office:
$15 million.
Opening Weekend:
$8,333,358 on 1175 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French Dolby Monaural
Spanish Dolby Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $33.99
Release Date: 6/27/2023

• Audio Commentary With Director Harold Ramis, Producer Matty Simmons, and Actors Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall



National Lampoon's Vacation [4K UHD] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 22, 2023)

Today’s “man, I’m old” moment: this year marks the 40th Anniversary release of 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation. I find it depressing to realize it’s been that long since I was a bright ‘n’ shiny 16-year-old, but you just can’t stop the tick-tock of time.

You also can’t make me re-run my extended look at the movie. This acts as my fourth review of Vacation so I think it’s time to stick with summaries. If you want to check out my full-length discussion, go ahead and click right here!

To recap, Vacation continues to offer a reasonably amusing experience. 40 years after its creation, Christie Brinkley’s performance remains atrocious, but the movie survives nonetheless. A fairly lively and funny flick, Vacation delivers a good ride.

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

National Lampoon’s Vacation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The movie showed its age but looked pretty good nonetheless.

Overall sharpness seemed fine. The movie rarely displayed terrific clarity, and some minor softness occurred.

However, this seemed to be an artifact of the original photography, and the lack of definition wasn’t a severe issue. Instead, the flick usually offered pretty good delineation.

I noticed no signs of jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes were absent. Source flaws also failed to materialize in this clean presentation, and grain seemed natural.

Though many 1980s movies featured dense tones, I thought the colors of Vacation looked surprisingly positive. The film featured a bright palette, and the hues consistently came across as reasonably vivid and dynamic. HDR added range and intensity to the tones.

Black levels were acceptably deep and rich, while shadows seemed clean and appropriately opaque. A couple of the low-light situations – like the one in the urban area early in the movie – were a little thick, but mostly these shots appeared well defined.

HDR gave extra oomph to whites and contrast. All of this added up to a solid “B+”.

I also felt pretty pleased with the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Vacation. Speech occasionally displayed a little edginess but showed no problems related to intelligibility.

For the most part, speech seemed reasonably natural, despite a few instances of some awkward looping. Effects lacked much heft, but they retained acceptable fidelity and clarity, and they demonstrated no issues related to distortion.

Music sounded quite strong, as the songs and score were bright and rich. They featured surprisingly positive bass response and seemed pretty dynamic considering their age. Given the movie’s age and the limits of mono sound, I thought the mix worked quite well.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray from 2013? Audio felt very similar, if not identical.

Visuals demonstrated an upgrade, though, as the 4K offered superior delineation, colors and blacks. Given the nature of the source, this didn’t become a dazzling step up, but the 4K nonetheless turned into the more satisfying rendition of the film.

Only one extra appears here: an audio commentary that involves director Harold Ramis, producer Matty Simmons, and actors Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall. Ramis was recorded on his own, while the other five sat together. Both sessions resulted in running, screen-specific tracks that were edited together for this piece.

Let’s do the math. Ramis’s prior solo commentaries usually seemed sporadically interesting at best, and Chase’s track for European Vacation was pretty much a dull disaster.

Combine those two, add a few others, and what do you get? A pretty flat and uninformative commentary.

Occasionally, some decent notes do emerge. The best components relate changes from the script. We also learn of the flick’s original ending, and Ramis tells us why they re-shot it.

A few nice anecdotes pop up along the way as well. However, much of the piece provides the most rudimentary material that doesn’t tell us much about the making of the movie.

At times the participants do little more than narrate the film. In addition, a surprising number of empty spaces pop up along the way.

With six speakers, one might expect no dead air, but gaps become a real problem. Vacation fans seem destined to become disappointed with this weak commentary.

No Blu-ray copy appears here, and the 4K drops extras from the 2013 release. I don’t really miss the trailer or the introduction, but the loss of an 85-minute documentary hurts.

Over the last 40 years, National Lampoon’s Vacation turned into something of a comedy classic. I’m not quite sure it deserves that vaunted status, but the film still seems pretty amusing and entertaining in any case. The 4K UHD delivers positive picture and appropriate audio along with an iffy commentary. The absence of pre-existing bonus materials disappoints but this does become the best presentation of the movie itself to date.

To rate this film visit the 20th Anniversay Edition review of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION

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