A Christmas Story (1983)
Entering the 80’s, this decade was filled with tons of Christmas films. The 70’s that we skipped had a few and I already covered 1974’s Black Christmas here on the site last year (here’s a link to that). Nine years later, the director of the Black Chrismtas, Bob Clark, would change his tone from the violent and chilling horror to that of the family-friendly and hilarious film, A Christmas Story.
Loosely based on the book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by humorist Jean Shepard, this tale narrated by the aforementioned author follows a young boy from the 1940’s named Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) who is longing for the big man named Santa Claus to bring him his dream toy. That toy happens to be (say with me now) Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. He is told constantly that he will shoot his eye out and is dismayed and the people telling him not to get it. Santa himself, keeping in them with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, even tells him he’ll shoot his eye out and kicks him down a slide. So far in this series, Santa has been starting to be a prick since Miracle on 34th Street.
Along his way and still trying to convince people to get him the gift he wants, he has his friends Flick (Scott Schwartz) and Schwartz (R. D. Robb) help him fight against infamous Christmas asshole Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) leading to an awesome fight between Ralphie and Scut. On the other side of the spetrum, his dad he refers to “The Old Man” (Darren McGavin) wins a leg-shaped lamp in a contest that leads to “The Battle of the Lamp” with his wife (Melinda Dillon) while also having to deal with a furnace that pisses him off to high hell in a rant that is “Still floating in space over Lake Michigan” by swearing up a storm. Ralphie eventually gets his present and, I shit you not, shoots his eye out.
This movie has been talked about and raved over the ages and for good reasons. It’s charming, delightful and captures the essence of being young during Christmas. Everyone wanted a toy and longed for it, even if others thought it wasn’t good enough. It didn’t mattered, it’s what you wanted and desired. The film also shows how Ralphie is still a naive kid and cares more about himself than the family. He is selfish throughout the film, but still is a good kid at heart and most kids I knew were like that. I was like that once, but appreciated what I had no matter what. The acting from the kids and the adults are excellent as they balance each other out and grasp the humor for both sides of the audience. Everyone is great in this one. Yes, even Ward at Scut Farkus gets bonus points for just, well, being a dick.
The humor of this movie is hysterical. FromFlick getting his tongue stuck on a pole to “The Old Man” mispronouncing fragile, this movie makes me chuckle every time. It’s a comedy classic. The only downside is the 24 Hours of A Christmas Story on TBS. Yes, it’s odd to point that out, but it has hurt the film over the years. At first, it was great because the movie is awesome, but as the years went by, many grew tired of it and scoff at the mere mention of the movie. If TBS would show a different movie for once, maybe the film would become relevant and fresh again. Sadly, it’s one of TBS’ biggest moneymaker, so it won’t be going away anytime soon.
A Christmas Story is here to stay, whether you like it or not and is a classic in the Mount Rushmore of Christmas films.
Next time, we dive into the realm of horror with another classic that involves three simple steps.