National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) 4K Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

The Griswold family is a national treasure, and their adventures are well worth the cost of a special edition 4K combo pack.

Ahh, summer vacation. A time for families to leave their homes and friends and adventure out to a new city, state, or country to visit.  Seems like a great idea, doesn't it? In theory, it is a time for fathers, Mothers, Sons, and Daughters to bond and enjoy each other's company.  In reality, that rarely, if ever, happens.  Usually, the family starts fighting - especially if it includes teenagers - and nowadays kids are usually seen with their faces stuck in some electronic device.  However, as bad as you think your vacation is going, it can't possibly be worse than the Griswold Family's vacation.  

The film was released in 1983 and forever changed how we saw family vacations. In honor of the 40th anniversary of National Lampoon's Vacation, Warner Bros. is releasing the film in 4K for the first time.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase; Fletch) had fond memories of family vacations as a boy and wants to bring that experience to his family.   He decides to pack up the family in a station wagon and make the trip from Chicago to Walley World, an amusement park in California. Along the way they have mishap after mishap including a lost bag with credit cards, the death of Aunt Edna, who they were dropping off in Arizona, and the animal cruelty charge Clark almost got for forgetting that Aunt Edna's dog was tied to the bumper of the car and driving off, essentially killing the dog.

National Lampoon's Vacation became a box office success despite receiving mixed reviews from critics.  That success can be attributed to Director Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters), Writer John Hughes (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), and a talented cast led by Chase, Beverly D'Angelo (Violent Night), Anthony Michael Hall (Halloween Kills), and Dana Barron (Heaven Help Us). Together, they made a memorable movie that has left an indelible mark on comedy films forever.

Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the 4K transfer of Vacation offers a much better video quality than the previously released Blu-ray.  The fine details are sharp and clean and there is very little graininess, except for a few moments in the scenes at night. Despite that, the overall presentation is very good and the upgrade is well done.

Unfortunately, the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 does not bring the same improvement to the film that the video quality gives. Essentially, the mono track has been split in two, offering some amount of clearer audio and the overall volume is consistent, which can often be an issue but it feels as if most of the time upgrading the film was spent on video leaving the audio as somewhat of an afterthought.  

Probably the biggest disappointment with this release is the lack of extras (even ones that were released with the Blu-ray combo packs).  There is only one extra which is the commentary with Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Matty Simmons, Harold Ramis, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Barron.  While the commentary is decent, it would have been better if other extras had been offered as well.

If you grew up in the 80s, there were a number of these types of comedies and National Lampoon created several of them.  Animal House, Van Wilder, and of course, the vacation franchise all became hits and had a generation of people laughing.  While it personally pains me to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of this film (because it makes me feel terribly old), it also warms my heart to see these movies enduring and being introduced to younger audiences.  

The Griswold family is a national treasure and their adventures are well worth the cost of a special edition 4K combo pack.

Grade: B+

Directed By:
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 98 minutes
Distributed By: Warner Bros.

Stream from Amazon Prime
Purchase National Lampoon's Vacation from the iTunes store.

For more information about National Lampoon's Vacation visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

National Lampoon's Vacation images are courtesy of Warner Bros.. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


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