A Christmas Story (1983)
Reviewed on 2007 December 31
Every kid can remember the Christmas present they wanted from childhood, and the story behind whether or not it materialized under the tree on Christmas morning. When I was seven, my holy grail of presents was a puppy, and my parents, who missed their calling as poker players, set out to make it happen by turning a meeting with one of Dad’s business friends into a family night out. That way I thought nothing of it when dinner out with his family segued into all of us kids winding up in their family room, playing with their beloved beagle and her litter of puppies. I later learned the puppy I bonded with was to come home with me, until my throat almost closed while I was still holding her. It turned out I was allergic to… well, pretty much everything, but especially cute puppies, so Santa brought me books and toys that year.
My allergies have since fallen by the wayside and we have an excellent dog and two spoiled cats. Now I want Santa to bring me an Oreck.
I remember how I felt that year every time I watch A Christmas Story. Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) has a different obstacle: the dreaded mother-BB gun block. The Old Man (Darren McGavin) doesn’t see the problem with it; Ralphie’s mom (Melinda Dillon) and pretty much every other adult he knows is convinced he’ll shoot his eye out. It’s 1940s Indiana, and Ralphie wants — no, needs — a peacemaker to protect his family (cue hilarious bit where he imagines protecting his family from “marauders”). The closer it gets to Christmas, the dimmer his chances seem. The cynicism he inherited from the Old Man doesn’t stop him from trying Santa in a last-ditch effort to get his beloved rifle. The journey is also beset with a whiny baby brother and some school bullies.
Jean Shepherd narrates his holiday story and it’s fueled by the way it makes so many people remember how they felt as a kid, waiting for the “crawl of time after Thanksgiving” to end, and Christmas break to start. Not to mention it’s just plain funny. The blend of warmth and sarcasm are perfect. I love the bit where Ralphie learns first-hand about commercials.
Three chocolate morsels and a glass of milk poured from an old-fashioned glass bottle.