A Christmas Story (1983)
A Christmas Story: so often this movie is regarded as a Christmas classic. I remember watching it as a child but I hadn't watched it in years, and now that I have seen it entirely, I can say that I love it. So I figured I might as well review it to celebrate the fact that I am done school for two weeks. A Christmas Story is a truly excellent movie that has earned its status as a classic. It is not only a great Christmas movie, it is a great movie in general, presenting audiences of many generations with a look at youth and nostalgia. Plus, it has loads of memorable moments that have been parodied to death, so even those who haven't seen the movie will definitely be familiar with some scenes (like the infamous "you'll shoot your eye out" and the tongue on the pole scene).
The plot of A Christmas Story is rather episodic in nature. It is about Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), a little boy living in Indiana in the late 40's/early 50's with his kind mother (Melinda Dillon), his profane father (Darren McGavin), and his little brother Randy, who hasn't eaten voluntarily in three years. Ralphie has one simple wish for Christmas: he wants a BB gun, but everybody says that he'll shoot his eye out. The film follows Ralphie in the days before Christmas with his dreams of getting the rifle, as well as dealing with some bullies, lead by the villainous Scutt Farkas, and watching his parents argue over a sexy lamp (one of the most famous plot elements from the movie).
There are also several vignettes, besides those bullies and the lamp, such as the bloodhounds that seem to take a sadistic pleasure in bugging Mr Parker, the fact that Ralphie's Aunt Clara seems to think he is a four-year-old girl, and Ralphie letting slip the "f dash-dash-dash word" while helping his father change a tire. We also go through the motions of Christmas such as picking a tree, making the turkey, and the whole sitting on Santa's lap thing (which I was never really into as a kid, and which Ralphie deals with some rather mean elves). The movie is about the mundane, but it manages to make the mundane magical. What makes this possible is the fact that the film is told in flashback, with voiceover narration from an older Ralphie (Jean Shepherd, who wrote the book upon which this is based). It is this narration that adds to the overall quality of the movie by giving the film the warm nostalgic tone that makes it so great.
Ralphie is a kid that we can all relate to in some way, and the kid that we will all look back on as adults. He's also a pretty funny kid too, and he gets some great one-liners in the movie's generally awesome script. But Ralphie isn't the only funny one, his parents get in some pretty hilarious moments, especially his father. The film is chock-full of memorable moments and scenes like the scene where Ralphie's friend sticks his tongue to a flagpole, and one of the most quotable lines of all time, the infamous "you'll shoot your eye out". The film is generally well-acted, with Shepard carrying most of the weight as Ralphie's voiceover. The actors playing the parents are awesome, and Peter Billingsley is pretty good for a kid actor. The film is also solid visually, with great sets that only add to the nostalgic tone that this film is trying to create.
In short, A Christmas Story is an excellent movie and a classic in every possible meaning of the word. Everyone should see it as soon as they can, especially because it is fit for an annual viewing around this time of year. It is solidly acted and well-written, and it has that warm nostalgic tone that we need in a cynical world like the one we live in. I feel that this is one of my weaker reviews, but I think it works with the style of the movie. A Christmas Story is simple, it doesn't need 10 paragraphs stuffed with big words to describe it. I grant this film must-see status, and I hope to make it an annual viewing tradition (that is, if I can ever find my DVD copy of it). Honestly, you don't have to listen to me, watch the movie for yourself and you'll find that it is much better than I have described it.
Lastly, I'd like to wish all the people who may read this a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a happy New Year.