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Stephen Kessler
Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Beverly D'Angelo, Ethan Embry, Marisol Nichols, Miriam Flynn, Shae D'Lyn
Writing Credits:
Elisa Bell, Bob Ducsay

This time the Griswolds are on a roll.

When Clark Griswold puts his mind to something, we soon realize he hasn't got one. Still, nothing stops him when the vacation bug hits. This time he's chosen Las Vegas, the family entertainment capital of America!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$12.837 million on 1891 screens.
Domestic Gross
$36.429 million.

Rated PG-13

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

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 5/21/2013

• Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Vegas Vacation [Blu-Ray] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 15, 2013)

After an eight-year break between films, the Vacation series resumed in 1997 with Vegas Vacation. Fourteen years following first flick, Vegas finds the Griswold family on the verge of another trip. Father Clark (Chevy Chase) gets a big bonus at work so he decides to take the clan to Las Vegas, where he wants to remarry wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo). They cart kids Rusty (Ethan Embry) and Audrey (Marisol Nichols) – still in their teens after all these years – off to Sin City for some fun and frolic.

A few subplots develop. As usual, Ellen’s cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) barges in on the Griswolds, and he spends some time with Clark, who whittles away the family’s savings on unsuccessful gambling. After he obtains a fake ID, Rusty starts to place bets himself, but with much more positive results. Audrey hangs out with her stripper cousin Vickie (Shae D’Lyn), while Ellen deals with the romantic overtures of an infatuated Wayne Newton (himself).

That’s not much of a plot, but it’s actually more complex than any of the prior Vacation flicks. Those movies simply presented various sketches connected together by the vague theme of “Clark wants the perfect holiday”. That element still appears in Vegas, but it branches out somewhat due to Clark’s gambling addition; he actively supports a split among the family members, which means that we don’t see his obsession in quite the same way.

Some may argue that detracts from the Vacation tradition, which it does, but I think it’s a welcome change. Each successive film got crummier and crummier, with fewer amusing or creative elements. Christmas Vacation enjoys a good reputation among fans, but I can’t figure out why; I think it provides a disjointed and unfunny mess.

I won’t call Vegas a classic, but honestly, I like it more than Christmas or European Vacation. Part of this comes from the fact it maintains an actual theme and offers more than just a conglomeration of gags.

The natural absurdity of the setting helps. Vegas is such a ridiculous place that it’s easy for comedy to spring from it. The movie utilizes those elements moderately well and gives us a few decent laughs. Though it’s now a little creepy to watch Siegfried and Roy with their tigers, that scene provides some nice moments.

Chase’s performance contributes as well. From the original through Christmas, he became more and more manic with each successive flick, so by Christmas, he turned into an inappropriately aggressive and broad presence.

Chase seems much more subdued with Vegas. Some may see that as a lack of effort on his part, but I think his calmer demeanor works better, as it helps accentuate the various gags. For once, it doesn’t feel like Chase is working relentlessly to entertain us, as he seems willing to let others horn in on the fun.

That connects to my favorite moments from Vegas: its guest stars. Wayne Newton isn’t much of an actor, but he shows a nice willingness to poke fun at himself. Julia Sweeney provides a quick but fun cameo, and Wallace Shawn makes the most of his running character as a sadistic blackjack dealer. Without question, Shawn’s bits are the best parts of Vegas. He’s lithe and funny and interacts nicely with Chase.

Add to that the sexiest Audrey of the four and Vegas Vacation provides a moderately amusing experience. More than a few parts of it fall flat; it includes some painful self-referential humor, and an extended bit at Hoover Dam fails. Nonetheless, it presents enough decent moments to make it watchable and sporadically entertaining.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Vegas Vacation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a watchable but inconsistent presentation.

Most of the issues related to sharpness. Especially at the start, some scenes came across as rather fuzzy and ill defined; even the credits lacked sparkle. Matters got better from there and the film usually looked reasonably precise, but ups and downs still occurred. No issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to mar the image.

Given the bright palette of the Vegas setting, one might expect vibrant colors, and the flick usually delivered, as the tones mostly came across as lively and full. Some scenes demonstrated a little muddiness, but the colors generally appeared dynamic and vivid.

Black levels were a little flat at times, but they mostly seemed reasonably deep. Shadow detail could be somewhat murky. Some low-light shots looked acceptably discernible, but others were a bit on the dull side. Vegas Vacation boasted enough dazzling shots to boost my grade to a “B-“, but it also presented more than its fair share of flat images.

While the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Vegas Vacation demonstrated greater consistency, it also earned a “B-“. That occurred because it seemed like a generally lackluster presentation.

The soundfield didn’t offer much life. Most of the audio remained firmly in the front and tended toward general ambience. Casinos and other Vegas settings could provide nice spread and dimensionality, but here they seemed somewhat subdued. The mix occasionally kicked into action with scenes like the one where Clark busted into Wayne Newton’s house, but usually the track appeared fairly constricted in regard to its scope.

Audio quality was fine but unexceptional. Speech seemed crisp and natural, with no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music was clear but not terribly dynamic. The score and songs occasionally betrayed greater range, but usually they were no better than average.

The same went for effects, which showed no problems and seemed clean and distinctive but lacked much spark. Overall, the soundtrack of Vegas Vacation was serviceable but not memorable.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2003? Audio had a little more pep, and visuals showed moderately increased definition and cleanliness. While the Blu-ray offered the stronger presentation, don’t expect miracles; this remained a decent but erratic package.

The 2003 DVD skimped on extras, and the Blu-ray doesn’t alter this. It loses the DVD’s production notes and provides nothing more than the film’s trailer.

No one will confuse Vegas Vacation for a great comedy, but I must admit I found it to offer a surprisingly – though sporadically – amusing affair. It mixes some weak moments with enough reasonably funny ones to create a generally watchable effort. The Blu-ray gives us generally positive picture and audio but lacks supplements. This becomes a competent presentation of the film but not one that impresses.

To rate this film visit the original review of VEGAS VACATION

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