Adventure Blu-ray Review

'Vacation' Blu-ray Review: Highway to hilarity

November 3, 2015Ben MK

Have you ever gone on a trip with your family and had something go wrong? If so, you've just described pretty much every family vacation in history. Now, have you ever gone on a trip with your family and accidentally drove an ATV through a cow, or ended up bathing in raw sewage? If so, you've just described Vacation, the brand-new follow-up to National Lampoon's Vacation, European Vacation and Christmas Vacation.

This time around, the story follows Clark Griswold's son, Rusty (Ed Helms), who's all grown up with a family of his own. A pilot for budget airline Econo Air, Rusty's pretty content with his life. Little does he realize, however, that his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), and sons, the older James (Skyler Gisondo) and the younger Kevin (Steele Stebbins), don't feel the same way. Luckily, Rusty — being the Griswold that he is — has just the remedy to get his family out of their rut: a cross-country road trip to Walley World, the exact same amusement park his dad tried taking him, his sister Audrey and his mom Ellen to so many years ago.

So begins Vacation, a film that — in keeping with the grand tradition of most road trip movies — is less about the destination than it is about the getting there. And boy is there a lot that happens in the getting there. As Rusty and his family make their way from their suburban Chicago home to California (stopping over in Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas along the way), they find themselves getting into one ridiculous situation after another, from the aforementioned cow and raw sewage incidents, to a near-death whitewater rafting excursion with a mentally unhinged tour guide (Charlie Day). And that's only the beginning.

Yes, no matter which way you cut it, this Vacation feels like a rehash of its 1983 predecessor. But here's the weird thing: in spite of this, it all somehow works. Chalk it up to the hilarious supporting roles and cameos (like Chris Hemsworth as Rusty's sister Audrey's well-endowed weatherman husband) or the fact that Helms is the ideal choice to follow in Chase's footsteps, making for the perfect well-meaning, goofy lead. Either way, it makes the film a blast to watch, even if it's a bit mindless and the laughs are cheap. Could we have lived without this sequel? Sure. But you probably won't regret going along for the ride.

Vacation's Blu-ray image quality is pretty much on par with what you might expect from a Hollywood film produced in 2015. Colors exhibit excellent saturation, whether it's the hideous green paint job of Clark Griswold's classic Truckster or the blue paint job of the Albanian gas-guzzler Rusty rents for the weekend; black levels and contrast are good; and fine detail is routinely visible, highlighting the changes in the landscape as the family makes their way from state to state. As for sound quality, the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack makes short work of the movie's standard comedy soundstage, which is largely comprised of dialogue and music, with only a handful of additional effects (such as ATV engines, raging rapids and a screaming roller coaster) thrown in for good measure.

Warner's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD and an UltraViolet digital copy, along with the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Return to Walley World (9:54) - The cast and crew talk about honoring the original 1983 film and making a movie that stands on its own, while also reminiscing about their own family road trips.
  • The Griswold Odyssey (18:23) - A look at the film's production design, its characters, and the filming of specific scenes.
  • Gag Reel (1:32) - Goofs and silliness from the set.
  • Deleted Scenes (12:13) - Thirteen scenes in total.
  • Georgia (2:02) - A brief look at how the entire movie was filmed just an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Vacation is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of November 3rd, 2015. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 39 Mins.

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