It’s almost Christmas Eve, so what better way to conclude this year’s Christmas movie special week than with A Christmas Movie that is the direct opposite to A Christmas Horror Story, but is it more enjoyable?
A Christmas Story
(USA 1983, director: Bob Clark)
Young boy Ralphie wants nothing more than an air rifle for Christmas, but not only his parents seem to prevent him from getting it, as 1940s small town life is constantly throwing him more obstacles in the way.
One can often find out if a movie can become a classic and stay in people’s minds if one watches it and remembers certain scenes or dialogues. A Christmas Story is the perfect example of this with the infamous “You’re going to shoot your eye out” reprimand of the young boy’s mother or the boy-gets-his-tongue-stuck-on-a-pole moment. There are many other scenes and quotable lines as well as a good sense of realistic writing when the children curse and speak in their slang language (as in “triple dog dare”). In addition, it helps to get into the Christmas spirit with scenes like meeting Santa Claus in the mall or trying to sneakily make the parents aware of one’s wishes for presents.
While all this is good and well, things are often taken a bit too far in the comedy parts with some terrible slapstick as in old black-and-white movies in addition to even more annoying isn’t-this-funny? ditties. While it’s true that many of these scenes are from the eyes of a child, the main protagonist also comes across as an annoying better-know-it-all brat. Of course with an adult as the narrator (the boy as a man many years later), this can be seen as highly ironic, but it’s still hard to listen to him at times. It’s also quite strange how violence is used in the movie. Although there’s a slapstick tone in some scenes, others are quite realistic, maybe this being the reason why it’s not that well-known or even available in some countries like Germany.
As it stands, A Christmas Story has enough memorable scenes and really funny dialogue when it comes to ridiculing some weird Christmas or winter traditions, e.g. putting a boy into a costume he doesn’t want to wear or another one into clothes which don’t only prevent cold coming in but also the movement of the arms. But to call it a classic that has to be watched every Christmas, just because it captures that time of the year perfectly with an interesting narrative twist would make it instantly unapproachable. And as it’s the case with so many of these movies, one can easily forget that the forced slapstick and humor can annoy as much as it can entertain different people. For some, Die Hard is the ultimate X-Mas flick, for others it’s Home Alone or Christmas Vacation, while some prefer It’s a Wonderful Life or White Christmas.
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