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What would the holiday season be without NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION? Probably nowhere near as funny. For me, watching NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION ($20) has become something of a holiday tradition, one that can generate more laughter than a punchbowl full of over-proofed eggnog. Heck, no matter how many times I watch NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION, I am guaranteed to have tears rolling down my face because I am laughing so hard. While all of the VACATION movies are funny, there is indeed something special about this particular entry that elevates it above the rest, allowing it to achieve holiday comedy classic status.

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION finds Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his family at home for the holidays, much to the dismay of his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and children Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki). In addition to both Clark and Ellenís argumentative parents coming to stay with them, the Griswolds get a surprise visit from Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his brood, which makes the tight quarters even tighter. As expected, Clark does everything in his power to create the perfect family holiday, and as expected, everything goes horribly and hilariously wrong. The cast of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION also features John Randolph, Diane Ladd, E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts, Miriam Flynn, William Hickey, Mae Questel, Sam McMurray, Nicholas Guest, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brian Doyle-Murray.

Warner Home Video has made NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This wide screen release has been a long time in coming and it is something that is going to make fans extremely happy this holiday season. Warner has provided NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION with a very nice looking transfer that produces a fairly crisp and nicely defined image. There are some mildly soft looking shots in the film, but those are attributable to the original photography and effects work. Colors have a fairly natural level of saturation and realistic looking flesh tones. Blacks are accurately rendered, while the whites appear clean. Contrast is good, as is the level of shadow detail. The film elements utilized for the transfer are in good shape, displaying few blemishes and an occasionally noticeable mild grain structure. Digital compression artifacts are usually kept under wraps.

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION features a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack that decodes to standard surround. This is a fairly typical late 1980ís comedy mix, with the forward soundstage dominating and the rears adding ambient sounds and musical fill. There are a number of more pronounced sound effects in the rear channels, which are usually there to support one of the filmís more outlandish gags. Fidelity is pretty good, with the filmís music sounding rather nice when amplified. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and always completely understandable. A French language track is also provided on the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and music serve to enhance the interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Actors Randy Quaid, Beverly D'Angelo, Johnny Galecki, Miriam Flynn, plus director Jeremiah S. Chechik and producer Matty Simmons are on hand for a running audio commentary track. While the commentary is amusing in places, it does seem a bit sparse at times for the number of participants. A cast listing, plus a theatrical trailer close out the extras.


NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION is a hilarious holiday favorite that has been given a spiffy new wide screen transfer by the folks at Warner. If you have wanted a copy NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION on DVD, but couldnít stand the thought of purchasing the existing full screen edition, then you are going to be one happy camper this holiday season. Recommended.



National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Special Edition) (1989)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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