A Christmas Story (1983)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Ranked #984
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Connections: A Christmas Story

In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie Parker attempts to convince his parents, teacher, and Santa Claus that a Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: December 21, 2009
It's Christmas once again, and this year, I decided to take a look at the work of one Bob Clark. Clark, if you didn't know, was the man responsible for quite a few excellent movies: he gave us his quirky take on the zombie genre in Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, he gave us one of the classic slashers in Black Christmas, he delivered one of the best sex comedies of all time with Porky's, and though we won't hold it against him, he also whipped out the Baby Geniuses series. He's also the man responsible for what I believe to be the defining Christmas movie, that being tonight's film: the movie so good that TBS shows it back to back to back for twenty-four hours a day once a year, 1983's A Christmas Story.

In a nutshell, the movie details little Ralphie Parker's (Peter Billingsley) quest to wake up on Christmas morning and find a Red Ryder BB gun under the tree. He goes the direct route by asking his parents (Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin), but unfortunately, mother dearest tells him "no" because he'll shoot his eye out. He then asks both his teacher and Santa Claus himself, but is again met with the warning that he will come up short an eye after getting his hands on one of those guns. In terms of actual storyline, that is the extent of the film; however, the charm comes in the moments surrounding this story. Examples would include watching Ralphie's little brother Randy (Ian Petrella) at the dinner table, the old man's adoration of his leg lamp and constant battles with both the furnace and the neighbor's hounds, fights with the neighborhood bullies, and yes, an unfortunate encounter between a child's tongue and a frozen flagpole.

This film takes place way back in the forties, but I guarantee that anyone who sits down with it will be able to identify with more than a couple of the scenes found within. Who doesn't remember being a kid and wishing for that one particular present under the tree more than anything else? Going out with the folks to find the perfect Christmas tree? Listening to the old man cuss up a storm while battling with some mechanical problem? Few of us can identify with growing up in the forties, but all of us can relate to being a kid in the weeks leading up to what is the best holiday of the year for anyone under the age of twelve.

Sure, maybe it's a little over the top at times, but that's part of the charm. I doubt many of you lived in fear of the yellow-eyed bully with an annoying laugh, but who reading this didn't have that one asshole kid who made everyone else's life at school a living hell? Perhaps your father didn't have a leg lamp in the front window for all to see, but whose dad didn't have some quirk that embarrassed the family? Even though the acts and events themselves may be a little far-fetched, we can see ourselves in the character's shoes nonetheless. That is where the real charm comes from... well, that and the fact that the movie is simply hilarious to boot.

As far as the cast goes, I couldn't see this movie with any of the main characters being replaced as each and every last one of the actors is perfect in their roles. Peter Billingsley simply defines childhood innocence, Ian Petrella is able to find that sweet spot between "bratty little brother" and "annoying character", and the parents... my word, the parents. If you can't see a little of your own father in Darren McGavin's character, then I'm sorry, but it must have been hard growing up without a dad. I truly hope that the movie never gets remade, because nobody will be able to play the character like he did.

There are dozens, maybe even hundreds of movies that I personally consider to be perfect but will never watch again. Once in a lifetime is enough for the vast majority of movies, two or three times in some rare cases, but A Christmas Story is one of those rare films that I will watch two or three times every year. There are countless Christmas movies out there, but for my money, this is the cream of the crop. 10/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 12/21/2009, 06:27 AM
It really doesn't get any more classic than this. One of the best Christmas movies, and easily one of the funniest movies I've seen. 10/10
Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 12/21/2009, 02:09 PM
I actually agree with the asshole. 10/10
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 12/21/2009, 03:31 PM
Fuck it, I'll be the odd one out. I never really cared for this one myself. Nothing wrong with it per se, it just didn't do to much for me.
George Snow #4: George Snow - added 12/21/2009, 08:24 PM
Classic - Classic - Classic. I saw this in the theatres way back when.
Tobes #5: Tobes - added 12/22/2009, 12:09 PM
That leg lamp is ELECTRIC SEX.
Optimus Prime #6: Optimus Prime - added 12/27/2009, 11:40 PM
Don't care for it. 4/10.
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