06/12/2013

A Christmas Story (1983)

Film: A Christmas Story
Release: 1983, Theatrical
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella
Directed by: Bob Clark
IMDB Page: Link opens in a new window
Description: The disillusioned 9 year old Ralphie Parker wants nothing more than a B.B. gun for Christmas and does anything in his power to get it while dodging the everyday problems of a kid

Hans' thoughts:

A Christmas Story is a movie that celebrates yet satires all the hijinks that will ensue when trying to celebrate the perfect holidays. Narrated by our main character as a grown-up, the story takes place in 1940's and shows us a rather cynical view of the commercial American christmas. It's mainly a childrens film, but it's probably the most adult childrens christmas special out there. If you're a fan of TV-shows like Malcolm in the middle then you know exactly what you're in for. The kind of sarcasm and observational humor in these kind of stories have never been as in tip top shape as in this piece, where our main character finds out the true meaning of Murphy's law - everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Our main character is played by Peter Billingsley, despite his young age he is played as a very observational and cynical person who puts way too much thought into his actions. Like a kid he is still kind of naive and have child fantasies but he seems much more reserved than most of the people he surrounds himself with.

The lead supporting characters is his immediate family, mother, father and little brother and you are quickly introduced to them in a way that you know exactly who they are and how they will probably react. It's that sitcomish observational humor but with well-written characters and excellent dialogue. My personal favorite character turned out to be the well-meaning but somewhat bumbling father who tries to be the perfect family father and is a lot of heart - but he's also a human being and some of the small problems he faces do manage to make him lose his temper from time to time. On the other hand, I wasn't all that fond of the mother character. While she was a loving classic mother, I kinda wanted her to lose her temper sometimes as well but for what we got the actress did a terrific job portraying a mother as she would have been seen through the eyes of a cynical 9 year old kid.

A Christmas Story is great in it's simplicity, there's no big looming danger at any point in the movie and all the characters seem fully aware of how dumb commercialised christmas can get - but it celebrates the small joys of togetherness and it doesn't try to make some kind of preachy story about how christmas isn't about the presents - our main characters quest throughout the movie is getting his hands on the perfect gift. Nothing more, nothing less. The movie understands that when you're a kid you understand all the good tidings that the television specials are trying to teach you, but at the same time you don't really want to be without gifts and you certainly have an idea about exactly what you want. Between a mix of heartwarming antics, good acting and a sweet story, A Christmas Story pretty much embodies what it's like to be a kid realizing more and more the cynicism behind his favorite holiday.
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