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A Christmas Story (1983)

December 24, 2009

8/10 Leg Lamps

Second best Christmas movie of all-time right behind It’s A Wonderful Life. Doesn’t quite break me down to a fit of festive tears, but December 25th wouldn’t be the same without this one around.

A Christmas Story is about the All-American family in the 1940’s trying to survive Christmas and one kid’s quest to see to it that Santa gets him the one thing he wants that will most definitely shoot his eye out – an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (his words, not mine).

This is one of those movies that I’m not surprised wasn’t very big when it first came out but it wasn’t until way past it left theaters that people started to appreciate how good it was. Something about it just seems so…normal, but that’s also what makes it so great. I’m not sure it would even be much of a hit if it were released today, but whatever, time has been might kind to A Christmas Story

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I like about this movie and what makes it special every year I watch it, and, in a nutshell, I think it’s because we can all relate. The thing is, Christmas is great, but Christmas can also be a borderline pain in the ass sometimes, so can being a kid. Not sure if helps to grow up in America to really get all the jokes and references, but I’m thinking it probably doesn’t. For example…

– Not getting the one thing you want for Christmas and having to parade around the house looking like “pink nightmare” in the bunny suit your grandmother made you because she still thinks you’re 4.

– Not being able to walk down the street because your mom put so many layers on you so you don’t catch a cold.

– Daydreaming about getting straight-A’s only to have to take home an abysmal report card to your parents on Christmas Eve.

– That hideous “trophy” your dad insists on displaying for the whole neighborhood.

– The first time you swore in front of your parents.

– The brick of soap in your mouth (I remember that fondly).

– Getting a surprise snowball to the face from the school bully and doing nothing about it.

– The turkey dinner your mom worked all day on and the subsequent dinner at the Chinese restaurant (my favorite part). 

Part of the reason this movie cracks me up is because of all the running gags, but I think most of it is due to the fact that just about everyone reading this review read at least something on that list and thought, “I know exactly what that’s about.” I didn’t grow up in the ’40s, but since I did grow up with a family that did celebrate Christmas once a year, a lot of stuff here still rings true.

I don’t know what happened to any of these actors, though. Every last character is as memorable as the next one, but for some reason it just didn’t pan out for anyone. Well, Peter Billingsley did direct Couples Retreat, so that’s good, but something tells me everyone on set was calling him “Ralphie” the whole time.

A Christmas Story is like a live-action Norman Rockwell painting and that’s why it works so well, same kinda reason All in the Family was so freakin’ funny. It’s great to think back on your favorite Christmas when you finally got the one thing you wanted, but it’s a lot more fun remembering when everything almost went completely wrong. It’s quotable beyond belief, it’s a classic for a reason, and since it’s probably gonna be on TV tonight, enjoy!

Merry Christmas Eve, folks!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan permalink
    December 24, 2009 9:45 am

    I triple dog dare you!

  2. December 24, 2009 12:37 pm

    Always finds a place on my TV during the Christmas season!

  3. December 24, 2009 3:10 pm

    For years people would tell me I looked like Ralphie after watching Christmas Story in class.

  4. madhatter21 permalink
    December 26, 2009 5:58 pm

    The bit that always gets me is when he’s using his decoder ring to figure out Lil’ Orphan Annie’s commercial. Who among us didn’t have a similar moment of disillusionment as a kid??

  5. Branden permalink
    December 28, 2009 3:30 pm

    I have seen this movie a billion times and I STILL love it.

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