Friday, May 31 2013, 11:15 AM MDT
Blu-ray Review: National Lampoon's Vacation
Street Date: May 21 2013
Available On: Blu-ray
Synopsis: The Griswold family embarks on an epic road trip filled with chaos, destruction and a beautiful woman in a Ferrari in hopes of visiting the Walley World theme park.
Extras: Audio Commentary, Introduction, Trailer, “Inside Story” Retrospective Documentary
Recommendation: Nearly 30 years after its theatrical release I sat down with Vacation for the very first time. I was of course familiar with the film and its place in the history of cinema. Vacation launched the career of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club) and further established director Harold Ramis (Caddyshack) as a formidable force in Hollywood. Without Vacation there might not have been Pretty in Pink or Ghostbusters. The film was also unique in that it combined the fairly traditional family road trip film with edgier R-rated dialogue and themes.
The film itself is an interesting critique of American culture and its obsession with all things Disney, mid-life crises and the cultural atmosphere of the early ‘80s. The jokes are more clever than they are hilarious and they’re not nearly as shockingly taboo as they would have been 30 years ago, but it still has a rebellious energy that kept me entertained from start to finish.
Visually the film does feel a bit dated. The image is fairly soft and the colors feel somewhat muted, but this has more to do with the style of the era and the modest budget of the production.
New to this Blu-ray release is a feature-length retrospective featuring interviews with all of the major players. It’s a little choppy and repeats itself from time to time, but it does a nice job of examining both the cultural impact of the film as well as reveal behind-the-scenes footage (including parts of the film’s original ending) and antidotes.
-Ryan Michael Painter