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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
What a strange movie A Christmas Story is. The story really is not structured and, like Christmas Vacation, it relies mostly on a series of vignettes exploring what is going on during Ralphie’s (Peter Billingsley) Christmas season. What makes the movie strange is that all of the minor plotlines just weave in and out. One would think the movie would feel clumsily disjointed, yet it really is not the case. Everything just falls into place. A lesser movie, this probably wouldn’t have.
I think what sells the movie is that, like Christmas Vacation and Home Alone, it has a lot of charm. Much of it has to do with the cast’s performance. Honestly, they really got a stellar cast for this film. Everyone is completely into their character. Despite the absurdity that the film gives us, there is no winking at the camera or acts of hamming it up. The believability the actors give, particularly Billingsley and Darren McGavin, sells this movie. I cannot see any other actors play these roles with the same conviction and attitude that this cast has.
Now, I am giving this movie a lot of praise. I have to be honest and say that I think A Christmas Story is a bit overrated. I know – controversial statement. I still think it is a good, enjoyable movie, but not worth putting on TV in 24 hour marathons.
I first saw this movie in late 2002 when a group of students held a small social event at my college’s Newman Center. I remember being excited to see it, because it is so entrenched in pop-culture. After that first viewing, I was a bit let down. My reaction was “that’s it?” I guess I just expected more. I cannot recall what I did expect, but the film fell short.
I have warmed on the film considerably over the years, and it took me some time to appreciate what A Christmas Story was trying to do and come to the conclusions I mentioned above. If you are not a fan of this movie, I suggest checking it out again. I will not say you will be converted into a fan. Instead, I think you will be warmed over a bit by it and enjoy its charm.