National Lampoon's Vacation

The 80s produced a massive amount of now legendary comedies. There were franchises galore covering teens, colleges, nerds, cops, farces and surreal comedy galore. Name a classic franchise or just a classic that is still run on TV these days, and you’ll quickly see at least one entry of them from this decade. These films produced mega stars of the day. The likes of Eddie Murphy, John Cleese, Rodney Dangerfield, John Candy, Tom Hanks, and that’s just a few names. Another former Saturday Night Live alumni would leave his mark on the world with a series of films that delivered the most hilarious, hapless family man ever committed to screen: Clark Griswold.


"Deceptively simple in premise and execution, it is a product of comedy genius"

Based on a short story by John Hughes, Chevy Chase and director Harold Ramis would rewrite Hughes’s script and deliver a tale about an accident prone, naïve father who wants to drive his wife and two kids across country to go to Wally World. From the moment he picks up his new family wagon (sold/swindled to him by the hilarious Eugene Levy) they endure an unending series of misadventures that culminate in Clark taking a security guard hostage at the finish line.

The sheer volume of disastrous set pieces keep you in stitches from beginning to end. Chase was never better than in the 80s’ entries of these films. His always devoted and long suffering wife (Beverly D’Angelo) is the perfect foil to Chase’s comedic proclivities. Anthony Micheal Hall and Dana Barron excel as the original Rusty and Audrey. There are some huge actors in small but immortal parts, including Randy Quaid’s cousin Eddie and John Candy. National Lampoon's Vacation

Ramis, who is widely known for Ghostbusters, made the road movie to beat all road movies (It took John Hughes to do it a few years later). He knew well enough to keep the production design and his camera work understated enough to let Chase do what Chase does best. He was then, and continued to be, masterfully good at comedy. This film is one of many that endures beyond his lifetime. May he rest in peace.

The soundtrack, with its cartoonish accompaniments, and song placements (especially ‘Holiday Road’) heighten the fun and complement Clarke’s journey perfectly.

To me, this is a feature length looney tunes cartoon, replete with hapless characters in heightened yet still relatable situations, that never relents in tickling the funny bone. Deceptively simple in premise and execution, it is a product of comedy genius. It is no wonder they ended up making many, many more of them.

5/5 stars


National Lampoon's Vacation

4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Digital

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on 4k UHD
- June 27, 2023
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; French: Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD
Region Encoding: 4K region-free


Warner Bros deliver a fantastic 2160p native scan of the original camera negatives that balance DNR and HDR perfectly. Noise is diminished from the previous releases without sacrificing the film grain (IE: detail). The HDR10 is applied carefully, excels with contrast and dimensionality and is judiciously placed in reds and greens. Fine detail is at a level never seen before. The pallet is respectful to the original cinematography yet heightens it. This is crisp, natural transfer that isn’t gonna burn out the neighbour’s retinas but will deliver an image unmatched on home media.


You get a DTS HD 2.0 stereo mix that is well done but hardly blows the doors off your theatre room. There are audio purists out there that decry idiots like me that long for more modern mixes (as an option at least) to older titles. While I don’t expect a modern action blockbuster type mix, this film with its countless slapstick  set pieces, song placements (Holiday Road especially ) and disasters would have benefited greatly in selling these elements with an Atmos mix to compliment the wonderful transfer. As it stands, you get a very good stereo mix but I was left wanting.



  • Audio Commentary with Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Matty Simmons, Harold Ramis, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Barron

Special Features:

Usual story here. Fuck all. Not even the legacy features from the 30th Anniversary blu-ray. You get a slipcase with shitty photoshop cover art (the legendary Vallejo poster art you’ll need to spring more money for the steelbook version) and an old commentary from previous editions. Oh and you get a digital copy.

4k rating divider

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3/5 stars

Film Details

National Lampoon's Vacation

MPAA Rating: R.
98 mins
: Harold Ramis
John Hughes
Chevy Chase; Beverly D'Angelo; Imogene Coca
: Comedy

Memorable Movie Quote: "Wow dad, we must have jumped that rail by like 50 yards."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 29, 1983
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 27, 2023.
Synopsis: The all-American Griswold family just wants to go on an all-American vacation. Everyone is packed. The route is planned ... And absolutely everything goes wrong as a simple trip quickly becomes a madcap cross-country odyssey and heroic quest in search of National Lampoon's Vacation.


National Lampoon's Vacation