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"A Christmas Story" is a rare film about children yet for adults. While
kids will definitely enjoy this Christmas-themed saga, adults will find a
deeper level of depth than they may remember from seeing the film at a
The movie strikes a sharp contrast between the exaggerated, polysyllabic narration of Ralphie, filled with nostalgia and lucid memories, and the soft, high-pitched childlike wonder of Ralphie's spoken word. The narrator is clearly not the same character as the one portrayed on film, but a character wholly outside the story, reliving his childhood emotions and anecdotes. Yet he is the heart of the film, the true center of gravity. This is because the movie is not about a scary Santa Clause and a BB gun - it's about childhood memories and the feelings they evoke. To that end, "A Christmas Story" is flawless.
"A Christmas Story" tells of the epically materialistic journey of Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) as he searches for the golden, upheld idol of all red-blooded American boys: A Red Rider Air Rifle. Ralphie spins an intricate web of cunning and deceit as he plots to get his hands on it - including an essay, a trip to Santa Claus and more. The movie also shows us a glimpse of his family - his irritable, foul-mouthed father with a good heart, his whiny brother Randy, and his sweet, all-American mother. It is not so much a continuous story as a series of vignettes, but it ultimately serves the movie's purpose.
This is a funny film. The narration by Jean Shepherd is filled with love for this story. He absolutely captures the emotions and logic of childhood. In a subtle but amusing moment, Shepherd intones the incomparably eloquent pouring forth of thought into writing - only to have Billingsley note in his awe-filled, high-pitched voice that "I think everyone should have a Red Rider BB gun. It's very good for Christmas." (paraphrased). Most of the humor is similar - the natural exaggeration of a child as expressed by Shepherd's consistent string of hyperbole.
Also, there's a reason why it's played constantly on cable TV throughout the Christmas season - it's a movie everyone can relate to. There are moments of such pure truth here that few can deny their power. I'm sure that there is a scientific law left unwritten that determines that every kid must at some point fantasize about his parents feeling absolutely terrible and forever regretting some unutterable punishment they inflicted on their child - in this case, the immortal washing of a mouth out with soap.
Obviously, "A Christmas Story" is not a film that can be compared to Casablanca or Citizen Kane. It simply excels at its simple goals, and comes together as an extraordinarily entertaining piece of cinema.
I lived the life of Ralphie! Even though I'm a girl and was born in the
late seventies, my Christmases were much the same as Ralphie's.
From playing Santa on Christmas morning to sipping my Dad's Christmas cocktail to visiting Santa at the department store, I lived the very same Christmas memories. This movie brings out the true essence of Christmas happiness. Everyone, young and old, can relive the magic of being a child.
Ralphie's vibrant imagination and inventiveness in his ploys to seduce his parents into buying him the ultimate gift are "pinch-his-chubby-cheeks" adorable. And Randy...need I say anything?? He is the perfect picture of the baby brother!
This movie is universal in its appeal to audiences of all ages, race, and nationalities. My husband, who grew up in Lebanon and who's first language is Arabic, even knew the famous "oh fudge" line when I first played this movie for him here in the States.
I get giddy every time I sit down to watch this movie. Curling up with a warm cup of cider in front of the fireplace, wrapping Christmas presents, making Christmas cookies, or writing a letter to Santa Claus...those are all perfect times to watch this classic family film. This has been and always will be my all-time favorite Christmas film.
A Christmas Story touches my heart as does no other film, and I know
the reason for this is because it reminds me so much of my own 1950's
boyhood. For sure it strikes a nerve in persons of my generation. This
is Bob Clark's masterpiece and I know I am not the only person who
feels this way.
I am going to assume that, if you are reading this, chances are you have seen the film; indeed, probably have seen it countless times as I have. This is not a film review in the normal sense. It is more a reminiscence and appreciation of a great story captured for all time in moving pictures which, in turn, captured the essence of the time and place of its setting; that time and setting being a typical town in Indiana during Christmas season in the 1940s as we observe a typical family (the Parkers) with two young sons named Ralphie and Randy.
Most of us over the age of 50 can relate very well to the story's key elements. I recall vividly family outings to crowded downtown sidewalks, Mom and Dad squeezing in a season's worth of shopping in one day and doing it under the nose of one who had a visit to Santa Claus on his mind. Staring at the prominent HIGBEES sign in the downtown square, I could almost see the words John A. Brown in its place. Browns was the main department store in my hometown of Oklahoma City and the place where I would make my annual visit with Santa Claus.
I am sure most who have seen the film realize this is Ralphie's story, but Melinda Dillon as the typical 1940's stay-at-home mom and Darren McGavin as the grumpy but kindly father made the story work. The stove in the Parker's kitchen reminds much of the one my grandmother had, and the rest of the house reminded me of the home my other grandparents lived in. As you see, viewing A Christmas Story is always a magical experience for me. It is almost as if Mr. Clark made this film with Tom Fowler in mind.
There are so many comments to make. It will be impossible to relate them all in a short review, but here are some that I know people my age will be most familiar with:
Beautiful toys displayed in department store windows. The agonizingly long wait for toys ordered via mail and learning too late they are not quite what was expected. The excitement of buying a Christmas tree, the joy of setting it up and how much bigger Christmas trees seemed then. Neighborhood bullies who were not nearly as tough as they seemed. Ralphie wanting a BB gun more than life itself. Mom covering trouble for Ralphie to his dad, and the same mom making him eat soap for uttering words -- learned from Dad. Randy sitting underneath the kitchen sink when depressed. A panicky visit to a tired Santa. An unwanted gift from a well-meaning aunt. The furious unwrapping of gifts on Christmas morning. I could go on and on. I will make two more observations and then will sign off and let somebody else speak.
In the film's sweetest scene, we see Dad coming through for his son at the last possible moment. To see the look on young Ralphie's (ably played by Peter Billingsley) face as he unwraps his best and last gift is one of filmdom's true golden moments.
But, for me the best moment was the last. Ralphie is in bed at film's end. We see snow outside and Ralphie dreaming of his wonderful gift, as the story's author and narrator Jean Shepherd, speaking as the grown up Ralphie, realizes this was the best Christmas he ever had, or ever would have.
If you are middle age or older and have not seen A Christmas Story, you are perhaps unaware that you have cheated yourself. Buy or rent the 2003 20th anniversary DVD. It will be the best money you spend this Christmas -- or any Christmas.
Nostalgic tale of a Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) growing up in
the 1940s (I believe). He wants nothing more than a Red Ryder Ranger
Model Air Rifle (a BB gun for short) for Christmas but everyone tells
him it will "shoot your eye out".
That's about it for plot but the film has sequences that every child (and adult) can relate to. My favorites: Ralphie's best friend getting his tongue stuck to a pole when he's dared to lick it; Ralphie accidentally swearing in front of his father; the bully that threatens Ralphie and his friends every day until Ralphie beats him up (in a GREAT scene); Ralphie's constant fights with his little brother (wonderfully played by Ian Petrella) and Billingsley and his brother being terrified by a department store Santa.
Also Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin are just great as the parents-- especially Dillon. She has one uproarious scene where she gets Petrella to eat by imitating a pig! This was totally ignored when it came out in 1983 but has slowly developed a cult following. It's now considered one of the best Christmas movies ever made--right up there with "It's a Wonderful Life" (which was also ignored at its release).
A charming, wonderful Christmas film. A 10 all the way!
A Christmas Story, there is absolutely no way that anyone could ever
say they never saw this film since it's shown every Christmas,
especially on TNT when they do the 24 hours of A Christmas Story, lol.
But onto the movie, I've watched A Christmas Story since the day I was
born, it's one of those films you never get sick of because of the
simple fact that each year of your life you could relate to it in some
way. Each character has these memorable moments and you could say that
you've been in the same situation. It's great seeing this movie because
it makes us laugh about the silliest moments in our life during the
Ralphie is a little boy who just so badly wants a B.B. gun for Christmas, it's just his dream. Only one problem, it'll shoot his eye out according to the adults around him. We go through Christmas with Ralphie and his family, his father who is obsessed with a prize leg lamp he won. His mother who is greatly under-appreciated but extremely loving. His brother, Randy, who is your typical silly and annoying younger brother who makes fun of him. And his friends who are on a constant run from the school bully. But all Ralphie can think about during this hard time in his adolescence is that B.B. gun.
A Christmas Story has constant unforgettable scenes, like the pink bunny out fit that Ralphie gets as a present from his aunt, him saying his first swear in front of his dad, Mom and Dad's fight over using the glue on purpose, visiting Santa at the mall, and of course that great ending that is sure to bring a that is sure to bring a tear to your eye. It's just the perfect Christmas movie that is a BIG recommendation for the season. It has great comedy, terrific acting, and just the most touching moments you'll ever see in a Christmas movie.
Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas but
his mother is totally against it - the "you'll shoot your eye out"
discussion being a major opposition.
This is essentially a story about childhood and is very spot-on in regards to the yearning of children and the whole Christmas era - I've been watching it since I was a child and every Christmas when it comes on TV I watch it again. It's funny, poignant and totally memorable - it has some of the best scenes of all-time and although I know a few people who dislike it because it's a bit "weird" and "dark," most people I know love it.
Worth watching every Christmas, forever!
12 reasons that A Christmas Story is a modern Classic!
12: "Fa-Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra" 11: "Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine" 10: "Nadafinga!!" 9: Ralphie's pink bunny outfit 8: Scut Farkus' yellow eyes 7: "Fuuuuuuuudddggee" 6: "Randy...how do the little piggies eat?" 5: "Fra-Gi-Le...it must be Italian" 4: "Where's the glue?" "We're out of glue!" "You used up all the glue on purpose!!" 3: "I triple-dog dare ya!" 2: "Alright, I'll get that kid to eat. Where's my screw driver and my plumber's helper? I'll open up his mouth and I'll shove it in" ... and, of course, the #1 reason: "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"
A Christmas classic and tradition in every sense of the word!
A Christmas story is a classic holiday film that is very funny and
entertaining. This is a movie that should be viewed by everyone, and can
been seen on television during thanksgiving and Christmas time. In most
families, this film is already a tradition to watch every year and that's
because it has a wonderful plot, great characters and believable actors.
A Christmas Story is about an average middle class family living in a small town in the 1940's. The film contains an average family of a regular husband and wife relationship and two young boys. The eldest of the boys is named Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) who is the star of the film. All that Ralphie wants is to have a perfect Christmas containing the perfect gift, a Red Ryder carbon action BB gun. This is all that Ralphie can think about day and night. When Ralphie has to write a Theme about what he wants for Christmas, his teacher replies to him `you'll shoot your eye out' which seems to be the only reply to him throughout the whole film.
What makes this film so great is the ability to relate to Ralphie with his problems throughout the movie, such as wanting that one gift that everyone thinks that you're too young to have and are unable to get. The acting is very convincing and makes you think that this could even be you in the movie.
There are some very hilarious parts in this film that also make it very good. This particular scene also contains some very cheesy acting which also makes it funny. Ralphie has a dream about getting his Red Ryder BB gun and saving his family from a bunch of evil villains. In this scene Ralphie is wearing the white sparkly cowboy suit and he shoots down the evil villains and saves the day with his gun in a very unrealistic way.
There really wasn't much music that can be commented on in this movie, just that it was the orchestral type of music that was out in the time period of the 40's. The costumes where great and convincing. I also liked how real they made the 40's look. You actually think it might have been made in that time period which makes the film very authentic.
I would recommend this film to anyone who wants some holiday laughs and some great family time together. I would rate this film a 9 out of ten because it's so memorable.
How difficult is it to perfectly capture nostalgia? It must be pretty
darn difficult or else everyone would make movies like this. It may not
be absolute perfection but Jean Shepherd, Bob Clark and the outstanding
cast came as close as anyone here.
Creating a story centered around nostalgia is a tricky thing as the memories that creates it are unique to each of us. The themes, however, are similar and that's where the success lies.
I didn't want a Red Ryder BB gun when I was that age but my Christmas wish was just as fervent and I schemed just as hard as Ralphie. The bully at my school didn't have yellow eyes but he was pretty much like Scut Farkus. And so on, from the fantastically flawed parents to the pop-heroes, A Christmas Story captures it all.
Bob Clark, the director behind the collegiate slasher flick "Black Christmas" and the naughty sex comedy "Porky's" surprisingly went on to hold the reins of the charming, innocent, nostalgic holiday romp "A Christmas Story" in 1983. The film is seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Ralphie, and is frequently told through the older more knowing voice of Jean Shepherd, who wrote the source material "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" in 1966. The film takes place sometime in the early 1940s (Shepherd has been quoted as saying specifically 1940), although the tone and texture of the film allow for more of the uncertain "period" look. The film follows the struggles of our child protagonist, specifically his longing for a very specific BB gun, which he references nearly thirty times during the course of the film, explaining why the come back "you'll shoot your eye out" is so associated with this movie. "A Christmas Story" is a wonderful, relaxing, little movie that never seems to age.
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