For Clark Griswold, it’s go big or nothing at all as he plans the perfect holiday for his entire family in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This holiday season classic has stood the test of time becoming essential viewing alongside the best of the best with one hilarious scene after another. String up 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights because Christmas Vacation unwraps a 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray worth celebrating! The new HDR10 transfer is a lovely improvement over past disc releases with a pair of audio tracks to match but sadly remains slim on the bonus features. Highly Recommended
From cross-country road trips to visits to Europe, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) doesn’t know how to go small, including the holidays. This Christmas he’s invited the entire family inlaws and all for the grandest traditional Christmas ever! Only nothing goes to plan. From trecking to the mountains for the perfect tree without a saw to stringing 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights, to his missing-in-action Christmas bonus, one problem after another tries to drop a lump of coal on the Griswolds. As his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and kids Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and Audrey (Juliette Lewis) know so well, Clark will never give up until everything is perfect.
As we’ve covered this film several times over the years, there’s not much point in doing another full review, but suffice it to say this is a seasonal favorite. As mandatory viewing each and every year, it’s a great reminder of how to sit back and simply enjoy the holidays without fussing over every tiny little detail. You don’t have to overdo it to have a great time. Considering the “National Lampoon” branding it may be far more schmaltzy than past films, but it hits the right balance of adult comedy and family-friendly hijinks. Chevy Chase delivers another terrific turn as the well-meaning over-planning Clark Griswold. With some of the most quotable lines of the franchise, the film never fails to deliver the laughs. So empty your shitters, grab some ‘nog, light a fire, and nestle up for another viewing of Christmas Vacation - now in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray!
We previously reviewed National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on Blu-ray and HD-DVD. You can click on links to those reviews below:
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Light the Yule Log, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation celebrates the holidays with a new two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Digital release from Warner Bros. The 4K version is pressed on a BD-66 disc with the HD version scoring the same BD-50 disc from the 25th Anniversary Special Edition release. Both discs are housed in a standard sturdy 2-disc case with separate trays and are not stacked. Also included is an identical slipcover. The discs load to static image main menus with traditional navigation options.
For a huge seasonal family favorite, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has had a tough road to travel on disc. From DVD to the first HD-DVD and Blu-rays, it had a pretty lackluster run until the 2015 25th Anniversary Disc. Now we have a fine example of a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray to raise the quality bar for this particular title. While it may not quite be the picture-perfect example, this new 2160p HDR10 transfer certainly offers up numerous improvements to cherish. First up, the details and film grain are in terrific shape. Fine facial features and costume details come through with a clarity not seen in past releases without betraying the film’s natural soft-focus “warm and fuzzy” quality. I don’t know if Warner used a new 4K master or simply reused the restoration elements from the 2015 disc and slipped in some HDR for good measure. Sadly they didn’t offer up any details there in the press releases, but this is a lovely image in great condition without any speckling issues.
HDR10 is well applied for the most part - the only niggling issue I have is some skin tones can look a little too tan/brownish in places. Looking back at the 2015 disc, there is a little bit of that quality already present but this grading takes that to a little darker level. However, it’s not a uniform issue, there are plenty of places where skin tones look perfectly natural and healthy. That’s the only issue I have and it’s a relatively small one considering everything else this transfer gets right. Primaries are lovely and appropriately festive. Whites are bright and crisp like newly fallen snow but skip out on any serious blooming issues. Black levels are appropriately dark and inky with some excellent shadow shading and saturation. All around a welcome upgrade for a genuine holiday classic.
This release also comes packed with a pair of audio options a “remastered” DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and the “Original Stereo” DTS-HD MA 2.0 track that has been featured on previous releases. Dollars to donuts, both tracks are great for just about any listening setup. If you’re in your top-of-the-line home theater, the 5.1 track is certainly the way to go as this track offers a bit more punch and presence along with some welcome flourishes into the sides. Big action-ish sequences like when Clark comes downstairs and the whole family is arguing or even when Cousin Eddy is emptying his chemical toilet, there’s enough channel activity to justify this mix. On the flip side, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 track is still an effective mix, so if you find yourself at the inlaws and they’re only rolling that cheap low-rung sound bar they picked up on Black Friday, it should hold together fine.
Once again the same entertaining but now fairly old audio commentary comes back for this release. And a trailer. There’s been ample opportunity to get new bonuses in here but sadly that hasn’t happened here.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc
Just like Santa sliding down the chimney every year, a new release of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation slides onto disc. Only this year, it’s actually worth celebrating because it’s the first time this classic holiday comedy comes to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray! The film is just as funny as it was the day it was unwrapped for theaters and now looks and sounds better than ever thanks to an overall excellent HDR10 transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. The only lump of coal for this disc is the decided lack of any new bonus features with the same old commentary track recycled and wrapped up in old newspaper for this release. All in all, this is a 4K disc that even Clark would be proud of. Highly Recommended.