National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

It seems impossible that there was any year where I didn’t see Chevy Chase litter his house with enough Christmas lights to be seen from space. But I was in fact fourteen when this now Christmas staple debuted in 1989 (a stellar year for classics of the future). Being a little Aussie, the concept of a white Christmas still held magic to my Southern Hemisphere eyes. After 89, Christmas Vacation became a yearly Yuletide family tradition. I’ll never forget cousin Eddie’s exploits, and the dog choking on a bone under the Griswold’s dinner table, busting my dad’s gut every year no matter how many times he saw it. Good times.

"a yearly Yuletide family tradition"

The third of the Vacation entries sees Clark W. Griswold decide, after causing unnatural disasters in Wally World and Europe, to keep the home fires burning with Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), Rusty(Johnny Galecki ) and Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and host Christmas. Of course, the well-meaning knuckle head has grand ideas of what a simple, easy heart-filled joy this idea will be, but considering he can’t remember to bring a saw to chop down a Christmas tree or read a magazine in bed without tearing it up, things don’t exactly go to plan.

This was the last of the Vacation films to involve any contribution from John Hughes. He was reluctant to come back but had a secret weapon in his formidable arsenal and based the script on his 1980 short story Christmas ‘59. Hughes had grown tired with this concept and contributing to ‘Chevy Chase vehicles’ as he once said. The strength of that short story (thankfully) gave us one last Hughes written vacation.National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

This film was blessed with a then contemporary superstar roster of comedians as well as boasting a supporting cast of future ones, with the likes of Seinfeld’s Juliette Louis-Dreyfus and The Big Bang’s Johnny Galecki. As with most Hughes writing, every character from the family to Clarke’s boss (played by the wonderfully gravelly voiced Brian Doyle-Murray) is well drawn and memorable. Louis-Dreyfus’s wonderful, stick up her butt, yuppie next door neighbour showed the amazing comedic chops she would take to great heights in TV (Seinfeld started in 89 as well). Of course, this is Chase’s show and he turns in my favourite performance of the franchise here. With the unrelenting amount of shit that befalls Clark in this entry, Chase delivers comedy gold with his meltdowns and copious flaws. Then there was scene stealer Randy Quaid as cousin Eddie. ‘Shitter was full.’ Every line, delivery and situation that character is involved in is, to me, the funniest this series ever was. And it’s a great series.

Famed director Chris Columbus was originally hired to direct the film. However, in a sadly not uncommon turn of events, he couldn’t get along with Chase and quit. Canadian director Jeremiah S. Chechik, responsible for the ill-advised adaptation of The Avengers (not the superhero one), was chosen and makes the entry stand apart from the others.

Christmas Vacation unbelievably released to mixed reviews back then (what the hell did they want?) but has gone on in the last 33 years to become a deservingly beloved holiday classic. If I forget the Vegas sequel (the last to star Chase) and the horrifically awful direct to video sequel (Christmas Vacation 2), then the crime against humanity reboot (Vacation), this was a comedy trilogy for the ages, with Christmas delivering a perfect snowy icing to that awesome comedy cake that endures every year on TVs across the world to this day. It’s a part of my family’s Christmas and always will be.

4/5 stars

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- November 1, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; French: Dolby Digital Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A


Okay, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth (well… maybe not quite back that far) Warner released DVD and Blu-Ray home releases that were, shall we say, notoriously shit. That was until around 2015 with a 25th anniversary Blu-ray (that math don’t track), which was a significant uptick. Anyway, there are no loud call outs or any information at all in regards to the source of this new 2160p master, so I’m going to assume it’s a higher res print from that source. The good news is, it looks beautiful! Contrast is rich and striking. The blacks are immersive and rich with no signs of crush or artefacts. Film grain is intact (or very impressively applied). Highlights and the whites of the snow blaze off the screen. The HDR10 application is judicious and effective, with a teeny tiny caveat: the skin tones, though effectively warm, can sometimes dip too far into browns in certain scenes. It’s a great and mostly consistent presentation and the best the film has ever looked on home media.


There’s a claim that the DTS-HD 5.1 mix is remastered. This mix, as did the mix from 2015, is a fantastic surround experience that really comes to the fore during Griswold’s many slapstick stunt scenes. Dialogue is rendered crisp, clean and centered. You are also given a DTS 2.0 mix. This is a solid mix, only lacking from the inclusion of more contemporary environmentals and overhead inclusions.



  • Commentary One

Special Features:

All but non-existent. You get as old as my granny audio commentary. Yep, that’s it. Was given the region A (US) version, so it comes with a slip cover with cover art that bores me to tears. What the hell is wrong with the original poster art? It was great! Whoever chose this is a muppet.

  • Trailer

4k rating divider

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

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars

Film Details

Misery (1990)

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
97 mins
: Jeremiah S. Chechik
John Hughes
Chevy Chase; Beverly D'Angelo; Juliette Lewis
: Comedy
Yule Crack UP
Memorable Movie Quote: "Shitter's Full
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 1, 1989
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 1, 2022.
Synopsis: As the holidays approach, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife, Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), and children, as he tries to make sure everything is in line, including the tree and house decorations. However, things go awry quickly. His hick cousin, Eddie (Randy Quaid), and his family show up unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Even worse, Clark's employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs.


Misery (1990)