Release Date: November 18, 1983 | DVD Release Date: October 29, 1997
A Christmas Story (1983) is based on an autobiographical story by Jean Shepard. Set in the 1940s, nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun and goes to great lengths to convince everyone that it would be the Christmas gift to end all Christmas gifts.
You’ve heard the stories of the one person to have never watched the holiday classic A Christmas Story? Before this week, I was that person. I’ve read that TBS actually shows the movie back to back for 24 hours on Christmas Eve each year, but I’ve always managed to miss it both through indifference and marrying someone for whom the movie isn’t a must-see. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, all classics we watch each year but A Christmas Story doesn’t make the roster. While my impression of the movie is mostly positive, I can’t see seeking it out each year as part of holiday tradition, let me share the reasons.
A Christmas Story is a cute movie. The movie is narrated in Wonder-Years style by the adult Ralphie. The arrangement of the film is anecdotal. Ralphie desperately wants the Red Ryder Rifle and gets the same concern from each adult he approaches including the mall Santa. When he does, in fact, get the rifle, Ralphie suffers an accident and worries that the injury the adults predicted has happened. In another anecdotal storyline, “The Old Man” (Ralphie’s father played by well-known character actor, Darrin McGavin) wins a fishnet stocking leg lamp from Nehi soda. “The Battle of the Lamp” begins when an overjoyed Old Man brings his prize home to find that his wife (Melinda Dillon) is not a fan and would like to see his new treasure gone.
Some of the devices in the film seem overworked jokes, likely because they have been used so many times over the intervening years. The acting in A Christmas Story is credible and the setting a charming throwback. While it was interesting seeing many of the jokes I’ve seen as memes over the years in context, A Christmas Story was simply charming and not a laugh-out-loud prospect. While a cute grouping of stories with some funny moments, I find the must-see aspect of it perhaps a shout out to those for whom it’s a holiday tradition and who tune it briefly for the laughs while decorating the tree. Ralphie is a cute kid, but I think the real interest in the film come from the parents who could put the classic radio Bickersons to shame.
If A Christmas Story is what you love for the holidays, I respect that. We all have our traditions. If you haven’t seen it, pick it up and give it a shot if only to get those holiday references fully. To close, I assumed my father had seen the movie and asked for his opinion, but he is the other person in the U.S. to have never seen it. It might have been interesting as he’s only a little younger than Ralphie.
For us here at Rabid Reader’s Reviews, we wish everyone a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for reading our reviews.
All American Christmas Carol is available as a DVD, Blu-ray and on Amazon Instant Video:
|Title||A Christmas Story|
|Actors||Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Scott Schwartz, Jean Shepherd|
|Length||1 hour and 34 minutes|
|DVD Release||October 29, 1997|