As far as Christmas films go, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is one of the funniest and most reliable comedies to bring out each year. Everyone knows it. Everyone loves it and if they don’t they’ll watch it anyway, dammit, because that’s the Griswold way. The film has seen various DVD releases over the years and this release already marks its second outing on the Blu-ray format, although the disc itself is identical to the 2006 Blu-ray release, with the only difference being the amount of goodies that you get with this set.
It’s Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark’s continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon. But as the big day draws closer and closer, things start to hilariously unravel resulting an unforgettable Christmas vacation!
I’ve actually only recently watched the first two Vacation films where they weren’t censored by TV networks, so getting into Christmas Vacation now is quite fitting. Granted I’ve seen this movie a ton of times previously, but only now am I able to watch it and fully appreciate all of the jokes, sight gags and other various bits that make the Vacation films so enjoyable (for the most part, anyway. Vegas is still questionable…). Unlike a lot of comedies, this series ages remarkably well as it doesn’t date itself with time period jokes but, rather, it focuses on the trials and tribulations of being a family.
Christmas Vacation is a bit misleading as it’s the only one of the films where the Griswold’s actually stay home, but it doesn’t matter. Chase and Co. are hilarious as always and while this film spawned a made-for-TV sequel starring Randy Quaid, I won’t hold it against him. Though the film runs a scant hour and a half, that’s more than enough to load it up with throwbacks to previous films and watch Chevy Chase gear up as Clark Griswold for the holiday season with his overzealous decorating desire and affinity for picking out animal infested Christmas trees.
There’s a whole array of jokes in this film that I love, but oddly it’s one of the films that I seem to reference least. I mean everyone (in my family at least) knows it but as much as we love comedies this film seems to just be a film we watch once a year and promptly forget about. That could have more to do with its run time than anything, but even so this film is properly festive and hilarious in proper Vacation fashion. I mean just thinking about Clark go on a rant about his bonus check, eyes bugging out, is enough to make me laugh and never mind all the other various aural and visual gags as well.
Christmas Vacation is a relatively simple film with simple jokes, but sometimes that’s all you need. Chase is hilarious in his prime and while he’s as entertaining as ever on Community, he’s really in his element in this film. There’s not a whole lot you have to say when it comes to these films, which may account for why I’m signing this one off here. Highly Recommended if, by some miracle, you have yet to witness this hilarious seasonal favorite.
As previously noted this release is a mere copy and paste of the previous 2006 Blu-ray release. The VC-1 encoded transfer is the same (which means it’s not terrible looking but also not overwhelmingly strong either) as is the audio track (which means DD2.0…blah). Still for a film of this type that’s really all you need and 2.0 is more than we got on the Vacation DVD releases (in which we’re still stuck with mono…which is kind of annoying), so it’s hard to complain. It’s certainly an adequate transfer and doesn’t hinder your enjoyment of the film in any way.
So why upgrade to this release if you own the 2006 release? Well…why indeed. There’s nothing new here in terms of bonus features (just the same Commentary by Randy Quaid, Bevery D’Angelo, Johnny Galeckl, Miriam Flynn, Jeremiah Chechik and Producer Natty Simmons…oh and the Theatrical Trailer), but the presentation of the set itself is brand-new. The set arrives in a fancy tin case loaded with goodies. There’s the film, of course, in a dark green Elite Blu-ray case (first of this color I’ve seen), with a brand new cover. Included with the tin is a bag of “Snow Powder” that expands when wet and…well, that’s it. Cool though.
Next we have a “Blu-ray Exclusive Miniature Mug Replica” that is…incredibly small. Like, really really small. There’s a set of four coasters with the cast from the movie, a button that says “I Survived a Griswold Family Christmas,” and finally a full size Santa hat. Hat is interesting because it was vacu-sealed and looks like a bag of furry meat or something. Interesting set all around. To see how this is all packed into the tin, check out this video (10mb, QuickTime).
But is it worth upgrading to? Eh…not really. The disc is the same and that’s really why you’re buying the set. If you know a Vacation fan who doesn’t have the film on Blu-ray yet, however, this would be a superb Christmas gift to give. It’s a nicely presented tin set and while you won’t use most of the goodies included, it’s still a solid set overall. Plus that inflating snow powder is pretty cool.
Overall a Recommended for anyone who doesn’t already own the Blu-ray. Plus it doesn’t cost much more than the original release, so if you have the choice just go for the set…it looks nice on the shelf.
Christmas Vacation: Ultimate Collector’s Edition is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.