Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Thoughts ‘13—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
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Tedde Moore, Zack Ward, Yano Anaya, Jeff Gillen, Les Carlson
Narrator: Jean Shepherd

What is left to say about “A Christmas Story”? It’s a holiday classic that many people watch over and over, every Christmas holiday season. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t watch this movie sometime before December 26th, and yet it continues to delight and please and bring newfound joy each and every year.

As I get older, I find myself delighting more and more in the two parents. Referred to only as Mother and the Old Man in the film and the credits, I find more pleasure each year in watching the way they use all those well-known parent sayings to manipulate the children and each other into the Great American Family Experience. Sure the details have changed. Pulling over to the side of the road to fix a tire isn’t as frequent an experience as it once was. We’ve now embraced those “new fangled” plastic trees as a standard, with real trees being the more unique tradition. And although they still exist, the Red Ryder BB Riffle is no longer the big-ticket item for the holiday wish lists; but the essence of everything in this movie is still there for both children and their parents.

This is one of those movies that is filled with favorite scenes. It seems any given person in my family can blurt out, “This is my favorite part,” at any given moment each year. There are the obvious moments like the double dog dare, the Bumpass dogs getting the turkey, the Christmas morning scene, fudge, the major award, and the bullies. There are also the less obvious parts like Ralph’s multiple visions of his teacher, the furnace battles and the parents’ war over the lamp. Every single moment of this movie seems filled with classic lines because so many of them are phrases we’ve heard before in our own lives as children and adults. This movie just can’t be beat.

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