The Griswolds, a household name for a series of National Lampoon comedyï¿½s beginning with Vacation and most recently Vegas Vacation. Few of us could say these iconic characters havenï¿½t left an impression in our minds. I was happy when I heard that Christmas Vacation was going to be released on HD DVD, a true Christmas classic in high definition. With many memorable scenes associated with Christmas, is this classic worth the purchase in HD?
Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase) is a family man who always has a positive outlook on matters, as you may remember his optimism throughout the other collection of Vacation movies. He is joyous at the thought of putting up a large group of his family and in-laws for the holidays, and it all starts with the perfect tree. The opening of the movie tracks Clark, Ellen (Beverly Dï¿½Angelo), and kids (Juliette Lewis & Johhny Galecki) as they scour the countryside looking for a tree to take home. They end up uprooting the biggest tree in sight and driving home with it on the roof of their station wagon, and yes getting stuck under a semi-truck in the process. Iï¿½m sure you remember this scene, along with the numerous classic sequences spread throughout the movie.
When they get home Clark begins trimming the tree and we meet the obnoxious pampered neighbours, its apparent that thereï¿½s some hostility in the air thatï¿½s touched on a few times throughout the movie. Then thereï¿½s the classic unfolding of the gigantic tree in the living room. The real laughs begin as the family arrives; their interactions amongst each other are always a good chuckle. The movie pretty much keeps the laughs coming constantly throughout the entire duration, whether its Chevy Chase falling off a roof our falling through a roof, I love it. Then of course thereï¿½s Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) whose awkward trailer trash behaviour always managed to keep a smile on my face.
I have always enjoyed Christmas Vacation, and I enjoy it even more in HD. With so many classic scenes, I think itï¿½s a safe bet to say that this is the best Christmas comedy to date, unless you would classify A Christmas Story as a comedy, then my comment is debatable. Besides obviously being a comedy, there are some serious scenes showcasing some classic Christmas spirit, generosity, and compassion. I think thereï¿½s very few of you out there who havenï¿½t seen it yet (It plays pretty much daily over the Christmas season) and if youï¿½re one of them I suggest you check it out, as itï¿½s a guaranteed laugh.
Warner Brothers has had a good track record thus far with the release of their catalogue movies, most of which contain excellent video transfers. Can they give this classic comedy the attention is deserves?
Presented in 1080p 1.85:1 Christmas Vacation shows a noticeable improvement over the standard DVD. Colors really look vibrant, especially the reds that seem to pop really nicely on screen. Blacks also look very sharp and solid, not bleeding in dark blues at all. Details at times look soft but for the most part look sharp and clean which is good to see. There are times that the picture will look grainy and soft and this is somewhat disappointing, this is most apparent in the first ten minutes and does not carry through the entire movie.
This is the best Christmas Vacation has ever look and offers a vast improvement over the standard DVD movie. Comparing however to other HD DVDs it is slightly disappointing to see some scenes looking really soft while others are bogged down with grain.
Unfortunately we are not given the same good treatment for audio as we got for video. The audio track is encoded in Dolby Digital Plus 2.0, which right off the bat is a disappointment to see. Given this, Christmas Vacation does not sound terrible but it is certainly lacking what most of us have come to expect.
The track does sound good, with no pops or other problems, it holds up good in this aspect. The problem lies with how it distributes sounds throughout your system. This is front heavy track, with hardly any rear speaker and sub feedback. The problem is when you do get rear audio, it doesnï¿½t deliver the punch, often sounding too soft. The track sounds good but is very limited, something audiophiles might want to take notice before buying this disc.
The main weakness of this HD DVD is the lack of special features. You get commentary and a trailer, pretty lacklustre. The feature-length commentary, featuring Randy Quaid, Beverly Dï¿½Angelo, Johhny Galecki, Miriam Flynn, Jeremiah Checik, and Matty Simmons, is interesting to listen to, there are some insightful comments and memories about the making of the movie.
Christmas Vacation is a great Christmas movie, perfect to throw in and enjoy over the holidays. The laughs are constant, and the story is entertaining. If you havenï¿½t seen this movie, Iï¿½d suggest you do. If you already own this movie on DVD and are a big fan of it I would still suggest picking this one up, the major improvement in picture quality over the DVD version is worth the double dip.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary