A Christmas Story (1983)

Directed by Bob Clark

Somehow, the movie A Christmas Story has made its way into the realm of holiday classics (that would be Christmas classics for those who could care a rat’s ass for political proprieties).

At first, you kind of wonder how it happened.

It looks like a movie thrown together on a shoe-string budget. It uses one of the devices I usually find irritating in films, the voice-over narrator. And it seems rather episodic – a collection of seasonal scenes loosely strung together around the idea of a kid who wants a BB gun for Christmas.

Yet … Somehow, it works.

The reason probably lies in the way it balances Christmas schaltz with irreverant humour.

It weaves a holiday season sentimentaliy, nostalgia, then torpedoes it almost immediately after.

For example, children … Rather than the sweet, charming ones we’re used to from more traditional Christmas films (like Miracle on 34th Street), these kids are brats more than anything else.

In fact, almost everything is turned on its traditional head. Despite this, the movie still works a nostalgic charm – in fact, it’s the nostalgia the film relies on to work (and what makes so many people love this film). This is not a bad thing; it’s perfectly appropriate for this kind of movie and is what makes the humour work without getting out of hand.

And something should be said about Darren McGavin and his performanace as the father. He is an absolute scream, he is so funny. His struggles with the furnace, torments by the neighbour’s dogs, and inarticulate swearing are classic comedy. It may be the best thing in the entire movie, and there are a lot of good things in it.

The one downside is the DVD which begins with those horrible words, “This movie has been reformatted to fit your TV.” Why is this movie not available in widescreen? Hopefully, given the movie’s growing status as a classic, it will one day be put out in an edition worthy of it.

© 2002 Piddleville Inc.

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