Vacation (Blu-ray Review)

VacationBelieve it or not, July 29th’s Vacation is actually the fifth theatrical and the seventh total installment of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series.  However, that stat does little to phase or impress me.  While I loved some of the earlier National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, the trailers for 2015’s Vacation absolutely rocked.  So much so that I felt if a trailer can elicit that much laughter from me, I just have to see the finished product and ensure there are still some good, unexpected laughs to be had with the feature.  And that ladies and gentlemen is why we’re here today to discuss in-depth the merits and hopeful laughs of Vacation.  And I know this is digression, but God I could really use one (referring to the very real dictionary definition of the word vacation).  Haha.  Life’s definitely not a beach for me.



Vacation was written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.  They both pop their cherries here with this also being their first directorial debuts.  Not too shabby for a major motion comedy picture like this, eh?  And in case you have been living under a rock this year and haven’t caught one of the film’s many ball-busting, hysterical theatrical trailers, then let me be the first to introduce you to Vacation‘s main cast.  They include the likes of Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth.  Of course there are some secondary players worth mentioning like a man that goes by the name of Chevy Frickin Chase!  Even one of my faves, Charlie Day, makes an appearance.  This flick is starting off with a bang before even sitting down with it, huh?

You see what I’m getting at here is that Vacation‘s theatrical trailers are so damn funny that I was very afraid that what we have seen is all that we’re going to get.  My worst fear was wondering what is there left to be shown?  Would there be comedic redemption beyond what is filling the seats via the feature’s theatrical trailers?  That was my main hurdle to jump over when I initially saw Vacation in the theater.  Was I, or in this case the film, successful in doing so?  Now you’re talking!  That’s the pudding we are all here to discuss at length today.  Ladies and gentlemen, let’s go re-live the Griswold family highlights in Vacation.

So before I give you my two cents, I want to give you the quick lowdown of what Vacation is really all about.  Then I’ll get to the good stuff.  I promise!.  Long story short, the setup and premise of Vacation, as you probably can guess already, is relatively simple.  It’s all a vehicle to follow Clark’s (Chase) son, Rusty (Helms), who now has his own family misadventures on the road.  All Rusty wants is some family-time, some much needed bonding.  So what does he decide to do?  He rents this one-in-a-kind car and takes his wife, Debbie (Applegate), and their two sons, James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins), across country to America’s favorite family fun park.  I’m talking Walley World, folks!  However, what happens on the road is the real adventure.  Ready to talk about it?  I sure the hell am!


Luckily there are a lot of laughs to be had in Vacation, not just the ones contained and played to death already in the trailer.  That was a relief for me as I found myself mostly cracking up over the relationship between the two brothers in the story and how they constantly bicker and fight, not to mention their mouths, but I digress.  However, the real novelty of Vacation is its self awareness.  It knows it’s a sequel to some pretty legendary predecessors and it makes no excuses for itself.  In fact, they go as far as saying this within the film that this is the new “vacation” and it’s going to be better than the old one.  I know what you’re thinking, folks.  Trust me.  Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.  They are!

In some respects Vacation feels like a cash cow to bring in everyone looking for a little continuity in their lives, reminiscing and re-uniting with the long lost cast of 1983, etc.  On the other hand, Vacation feels exactly like the cream of crop we are used to in modern days with other such raunchy family comedies like We’re The Millers or even Horrible Bosses.  And quite honestly, that’s kind of the fun, blended mix we have going on here.  If you’re picking up what I’m dropping with these bold comedic film comparisons, then you know exactly what kind of movie you’re walking into if you decide to embark on this Griswold family adventure on Blu-ray.  And why wouldn’t you?  Everyone deserves a god laugh now and then.  If you walk away from this without a single chuckle, then I don’t know what to say.  You need more help in life than I do!

Other than that, I’m not really sure what to tell you.  I mean you’re probably going to check out this one anyway.  The trailer already sold you on that.  My enjoyment of Vacation stems from the fact that I like these kinds of simple, genre beaten, but raunchy family comedies.  All the characters were nicely fleshed out with their own quirks, with some more funnier than others, but in the end all we’re left with nothing new other than a warm family bonding arc.  That’s where I can see the mass sea of critics saying this one fell rather flat or as I say very “typical.”  There is nothing new to be seen here.  I’ll give you that.  However, if the premise of the film’s trailers are what sold you on it in the first place, and let’s be honest they did, then you owe it to yourself to see this journey through to the end.  There really are some pretty insane moments that happen to the family while on the road and there’s even a stalker, whose identity I won’t reveal, that’s actually kind of worth the surprise.  Oh what the hell else are you doing?  It’s getting cod outside!



  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Clarity and detail are second to none here.  Sharp detail is prevalent throughout the presentation most notably in the environments are characters are put in, from natural, organic rock formations to artificial ones such as the flight controls, house interiors, etc.  Everything is rendered authentically and the finest detail is captured spectacularly here.
  • Depth: The depth of field is where this presentation really excels.  The onscreen characters all have that three-dimensional pop to them and they just literally spring off the backdrops making the depth of field endless.  Particular scenes that come to mind take place at the college sorority and especially the rocks of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  That scene is impeccable.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are all deep and inky throughout.
  • Color Reproduction: The colors all pop here with vibrancy and brightness without being too overexposed.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are natural looking and authentic throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Nada.  I dare you to find any grain of imperfection in this Blu-ray presentation.



  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, French (Dubbed in Quebec) Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Well folks, it’s a comedy.  Need I say more?  It is what it is.  It’s dialogue driven first and foremost, and minimal action second.  By golly though, the mix sounds great!  It’s not as lively as an action film, but it’s not a complete dud either.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE is pretty prevalent throughout from balancing the score to the grumble and growl of the stalker’s semi.  Now things really get amped up in the action sequences and the events I’m about to describe in the next category here.  There was one scene in particular though that blew me away.  When the girl flirting with Rusty on the road (no spoilers as it’s in the trailer) gets smashed my subwoofer poofed a big wind of air that smacked me on the couch.  I was speechless.  Bravo!  It’s the fourth dimension with this audio track!
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Here’s where things are not that exciting unless we are talking about the few action sequences.  I even checked to make sure my surround sound was setup properly when the film began playing.  However, once we get to the moments with car swerves, the semi sliding down the road, horns beeping, the car flipping over, etc., things can get quite insane behind you in the rear speakers.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Spoken words are clear and intelligible throughout.



This new Vacation comes bundled in the typical Warner Bros. Blu-ray Combo Pack, which features the Blu-ray disc presentation with extras, the movie in Standard Definition on a DVD disc and a redeemable voucher code good for the redemption of the Digital HD file playable via any UltraViolet account/player.  So I did mention some extras just now, right?  Indeed I did!  While there’s not much here, some goodies are better than none, right?  Of course they are!  So let’s take a closer look down below at the five supplemental extras that you’ll find house on the Vacation Blu-ray disc.

  • Return to Walley World (HD, 9:54) – Ed Helms and cast talks about this film and how huge fans they are of the Vacation saga, not to mention the script that Ed refers to as undeniably funny.  They also examine the culture of the original films and how popular they are and how this one must be respectful to them and every bit as great.  The cast pay respect to the original Griswolds, Beverly and Chevy (they are in this extra too).  They say no one really wanted to do this film without their involvement.  And oh yeah!  Walley World is a callback to the original film!  It’s only natural for families to go back, right?  Of course it is!  That’s the consistency of the family dynamic.
  • The Griswold Odyssey (HD, 18:23) – This one is all about the road trip and of course the Tartan Prancer, the film’s Albanian minivan.  Haha.  The car is on showcase here in this extra.  Why are the directors wearing top hats and long coats in these extras?  I have no idea.  Next up, we dive into the female sorority scenes and the wire work of the stunts employed.  There’s actually a puke physicist on set for this scene too.  Then we are down in Plano, TX to visit Rusty’s sister and Thor.  Four Corners is where Rusty and wife get busted trying to do you know what at the same time in four different states.  This also includes some talk about casting the two hilarious boys in our story before our next stop at the Grand Canyon in Arizona (the white water rafting scenes).  San Francisco is next here where we are reunited with the original Griswolds not to mention the authentically recreated TRCKSTR.  And finally we end up in you guessed it…Wally World 2.0.  Best of all, it is open!
  • Gag Reel (HD, 1:32) – This gag reel is really too brief to be taken seriously, no pun intended.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 12:13) –  If deleted scenes are your thing, there’s twelve minutes worth of them to be found here.
  • Georgia (HD, 2:02) – This one pretty much kisses Georgia’s sweet peachy a$$. They talk about how Georgia’s geography is so unique and diverse making this an easier shoot than having to travel to seven different states.  Christina said this place is more fun for her kids than Los Angeles is.  Say what?  Ed Helms is super grateful to have grown up in Atlanta.  That is all.



If you tolerate the likes of We’re The Millers or Horrible Bosses, then I have no fear that you’ll dig this November 3rd Vacation title.  No, it’s not as good as the original.  What ever is, huh?  And no, there’s not much outside of the gut busting moments y’all experienced in the trailers either.  However, these kind of raunchy family comedies work for me for some strange reason no matter how cliche or formulaic they all are.  There’s a soft spot in my heart for them.  I laughed equally as hard this second time around on Blu-ray as I did in the theater, but you’re mileage may vary.  Therefore, for anyone that’s undecided or unfamiliar with this title, I recommend a rental of this comedic film first.  If you’re a fan of the comedy, you know what to do.  Pre-order this bad boy now!


Pre-Order Now!



Vacation Blu-ray Cover


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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