Sunday, December 23, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—A Christmas Story (1983) ****

PG, 94 min.
Director: Bob Clark
Writers: Jean Shepherd (also novel “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”), Leigh Brown, Bob Clark
Narrator: Jean Shepherd
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, Tedde Moore, R.D. Robb, Zack Ward, Yano Anaya, Jeff Gillen

I can’t remember the last Christmas that went by without watching this Christmas classic. I know “A Christmas Story” as well as any movie I’ve ever known. Watching it has become routine. Yet, it’s one of those routines that is cherished, like the way you’ll eat your favorite ice cream sundae in exactly the same way every time.

This year, we switched up the routine a little bit. For the past 15 years or so this annual screening has been something confined to my home and my most immediate family. This year we watched it with my wife’s extended family and my mother. There were eight adults and five children gathered together to watch it. Although, it spelled a more chaotic start to the film than usual, the screening turned into one of those experiences with a film that is unique to the home viewing experience and something special in its event-like nature.

Not many people approach movies with quite the respect for the experience that I do. I had to prepare myself for this screening, planning on not really watching the movie. I knew there would be a great deal of talking and that the kids would get distracted and that the adults wouldn’t really care about preserving the integrity of the viewing experience. In the first few minutes of the film, this was certainly the case. But after a few minutes to settle in, I was proven wrong.

By the ten-minute mark, everyone was giving the movie their full attention and everyone was laughing and repeating lines and smiling at the screen. Suddenly the movie was fresher than it had been in years. Jokes I hadn’t laughed at for the past few years were just as funny as they were the first time I heard them. There were details that others knew that I hadn’t picked up on before. There was hardly a moment when we weren’t all laughing at something that was going on in the film. Perhaps this will become a new tradition. I can’t wait until the kids are old enough for “Christmas Vacation”.

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