Is there a Christmas movie in America that needs less of an introduction than A Christmas Story? I mean, its been considered a classic for years, it was ranked as the #1 Christmas movie of all time by AOL, and they even play it for 24 whole hours on TBS at Christmas Eve because of its popularity. There are some who don't like the film (Miss J for one) of course, like any film, but the majority of the country thinks that it is comic gold. I myself didn't like this film for a long time, I actually had to get older before I could enjoy it. Now I watch it every Christmas and never fail to get a few good giggles from it. No, its not gut-bustingly funny...but it does seem to capture the childhood experience of Christmas in a way that few other films have. Most of that is due to the very witty writing of author Jean Shepard and his eloquent way of making the trivialities of childhood seem as serious as adult life...because frankly, when you're a kid, it is. I think that's why I didn't like the movie until I was much older, because there's an element of nostalgia in listening to Shepard's words which makes you think about the way you remember childhood...not how it actually was.
For those who don't know, A Christmas Story is based on several short works by Shepard which come from his book "In God we Trust, All Others Pay Cash" and it tells the story of Ralphie, who spends the entire Christmas season avoiding bullies, attempting to get good grades in school, and most importantly...trying to get his parents to get him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas despite the obstacle of everyone reminding him that he'll shoot his eye out. Everyone can relate to the memories of Christmas and making sure that you got that one important gift from either the parents, or from Santa Claus...which is probably another reason why the story is so popular. The narrative is also chock full of random comic bits (the Leg Lamp anyone?) that just serve to enrich the tapestry of the story. Bob Clark, the director, certainly had come a long way from his first Christmas movie...Black Christmas...and it shows that the man can not only do good horror but that he can also do good comedy. So pull up a chair and pop in the film...or wait for the marathon...and enjoy this little gem for the first or the millionth time (unless you're Miss J...then you should watch The Grinch because..."it's joyful AND triumphant!").