A Christmas Story

Director: Bob Clark

Starring: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, Tedde Moore, R.D. Robb

Rated: PG

In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

 

A Christmas Story

By Cole Schneider

I didn’t grow up with “A Christmas Story”. My adoration for the film can’t be blamed on nostalgia, it’s instead that this Christmas story is a wonderful personal reflection told nostalgically. Fusing memories with dreams to explore both a child’s and society’s hopeful spirit, “A Christmas Story” works wonders. Everything works. The setting, tone, and characters in the film are perfect. These form the base on which the masterpiece can stand, but it’s the ancillary elements that make it a masterpiece. The score is playful, the performances on point, and the narration sublime.

It’s strange some of the ways in which it works. It is, for instance, a coming of age film in which nothing of terrible notoriety happens to the child Ralphie, but adult Ralphie’s narration is able to give us the confidence that he feels this was the time in which his adulthood was conceived. The same is true for most of us. Most of us “grew up” at an innocuous point in time yielding few “wow” moments. Instead maturity is born from small, familiar moments which take on a higher calling for no reason more than “it was our time”.

“A Christmas Story” finds its rhythms in the meetings between the familiar and the slightly off. Take the famous “fragile” lamp scene. Dad is infatuated, mom is embarrassed, and Ralph is in an immutable state of pre-pubescent wonder. The characters are full-bodied yet stereotyped exactly as Ralph recalls them. As the Grand Theater shows the American classic on the big screen this Tuesday and Wednesday, this is certainly one for all of us to recall.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

A Christmas Story

By Matt Greene

What makes A Christmas Story stand-out among the plethora of Christmastime films? What has made it sustain for 30 years? Perhaps it’s how we’ve all been the kid that wanted that ONE toy over all else. Maybe it’s the comforting, hilarious narration. Possibly it’s the honesty of a family surviving the holidays. Perhaps it’s Ralphie’s childlike, melodramatic fantasies. Or maybe it’s just the leg-lamp. However, I think we are drawn to it because it embraces the magic of Christmas without falling into the fantastical that many holiday movies dabble in. As one of the most down-to-earth Christmas films of all time, ACS is also one of the best.

The story is an episodic vision of what American families goes through during Christmas, purely held together by its honest and quirky tone. Sure, the ending is abrupt, the message is unclear, and there is even some dated, un-PC humor (Chinese restaurant). However, even these elements contribute to the movie’s naturalistic feel. The characters are dimensional, with some truly great performances by the four family members, and the period-piece elements are warm, cozy, inviting and familiar.

Like a Norman Rockwell painting brought to life, ACS is pure Americana at its truest and funniest, mixing the purity of old network sitcoms with the more nuanced and subtle humor of underground comedy. Playing on the big screen at The Grand next week, on TBS Christmas Eve, and always available OnDemand, its omnipresence during this time can be a blessing and a curse. But don’t let the ubiquitous existence of this holiday classic keep you from sitting down and enjoying it beginning to end.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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