Blu-ray Review “National Lampoon’s Vacation: 30th Anniversary Edition”

Actors: Beverly D’angelo, Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall
Directors: Harold Ramis
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” was a very important film of the 1980’s. It was a great kick-off for John Hughes, who then went on to making “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day” etc. It was directed by Harold Ramis, who also gave us “Caddyshack”, “Groundhog Day” and of course starred in “Ghostbusters” series. But most importantly this movie introduced us to the Griswold family. I think that is the most important. There is not a year that go by that I do not quote this film or its sequel “Vegas Vacation”. Of course who doesn’t watch “Christmas Vacation” every Holiday! “Vacation” is where it all started and it is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary with this new release. If you own the last Blu-ray from 2010, I wouldn’t recommend upgrading but if you don’t then this release is a must-own for any fan!

Official Premise: Everything is planned, packed… and about to go hilariously wrong. The Griswolds are going on vacation. In the driver’s seat is Clark Griswold (Chase), an Everyman eager to share the open road and the wonders of family togetherness, and his wife Ellen (D’Angelo). Myriad mishaps, crude kin (Quaid), encounters with a temptress (Christie Brinkley), financial woes, Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) on the roof, one security guard (John Candy) and 2,460 miles later, it’s a wonder the Griswolds are together. There’s never been a family vacation like it. Except maybe yours. And that helps explain why the classic comedy remains so popular and so very funny.

“National Lampoon’s Vacation: 30th Anniversary Edition” includes the same transfer from the 2010 Blu-ray release which is quite impressive. The 1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is quite strong and hold up real well. The color are sharp and the even though the film is screaming 1980’s it still looks sharp. The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track included works well with the dialogue and music in the film. I would have loved to seen this beefed up a little though to a 5.1 surround track for this anniversary release.

On the previous 2010 Blu-ray release, the special features were not anything to call home about. Well on this 30th anniversary edition, we are only getting one new featurette called “Inside Story: National Lampoon’s Vacation”. It is a nice 85-minute trip down memory lane with the cast/crew but I would recommend purchasing this Blu-ray just for this one featurette, especially if you owned the prior release. The rest of the extras are the roll-over from the 2010 Blu-ray including a brief introduction to the film with Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, and Matty Simmons. There is a fun audio commentary track with Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and Matty Simmons. Fans should enjoy this track. Lastly there is a theatrical trailer.


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Blu-ray Review “National Lampoon’s The Legend of Awesomest Maximus”

Directed by: Jeff Kanew
Starring: Will Sasso, Ian Ziering, Kristanna Loken, Sophie Monk, Rip torn, Tony Cox
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Distributed by: Image Entertainment
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Running Time: 91 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recently when I see that a film that is presented by National Lampoon, I would steer clear. It definitely doesn’t have the same reputation it did back in the “Animal House” and “Vacation” series days. This film is different though and delivers some really funny laughs.  Don’t get it wrong it is stupid as shit but for some reason I found it entertaining, probably few will agree.  It also packs a reallygreat cast including Will Sasso, Ian Ziering, Kristanna Loken, Sophie Monk, Rip Torn and Tony Cox. Will Sasso is just so over-the-top, it is great and makes me count down the days till “The Three Stooges”. Ian Ziering known best for his role in “Beverly Hills, 90210”, really branches out playing the mighty warrior Testiclees…yes that’s this name.

In case you are wondering about the director, Jeff Kanew, he is known best for directing the classic comedy film “Revenge of the Nerds”. In case the cover art doesn’t describe it enough this film is a spoof of films like “Gladiator”, “Troy”, “Alexander” and of course “300”. The film is very raunchy and most of the jokes really land on their feet. If you are a fan of Will Sasso, then there is no way you won’t like this film as he gets a chance to shine in the starring role.

The film follows Awesomest Maximus (Will Sasso) who is a general of Troy but is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Awesomest gets put on duty to accompany King Looney’s (Rip Torn) only son Orlando (Gary Lundy) on a mission to Greece. Orlando ends up stealing the wife of King Erotic (Khary Payton), Princess Ellen (Sophie Monk) to be his wife.  Get it Ellen of Troy? This of course does not go well and provokes a war between Troy and Greece.

The Blu-ray presentation is decent but nothing special. The video looks clear and sharp. Though the audio track is lacking and is basically the equivalent for DVD standards. The special features are non-existent with only the theatrical trailer included. There is also a the bonus trailer for the another spoof film “Division III: Football’s Finest”.  Disappointing since this is a really funny film.  Would have loved to see a gag reel or at least some behind the scenes featurettes.