Stephanie Sottile’s 31 Days of Christmas – Day 25: A Christmas Story
It’s Christmas Day! And in the grand tradition of this holiday, we shall all open our presents, listen to some Christmas music, clean up the wrapping paper, and turn on the movie that has been a staple on American television since 1997 (at least the 24-hour marathon on TNT and TBS has been). I have seen this movie loved and hated by so many and it can certainly be a dividing factor in many relationships & friendships. Similar to How The Grinch Stole Christmas, if you haven’t seen this film, you are in such a small minority, you could probably fit under my tree.
This movie is based on short stories told by Jean Shepherd from his childhood that he used to tell in the 1960s. Shepherd plays an adult version of the main character, Ralphie, and narrates the film, underscoring what Ralphie might be thinking or feeling in scenes (yes, like The Wonder Years). The main plot in this film is that Ralphie wants a BB gun for Christmas and all the adults in his life are telling him it’s a dangerous choice. The movie takes place a short time before Christmas so we also see any standard struggles a middle-class boy might be going through arguing with his brother, dealing with the schoolyard bully, and being punished for swearing. The film handles these issues in a very light-hearted manner, viewed through the eyes of how serious a child might handle them. This immediately gave me the impression that this film is possibly geared more so towards children or should be viewed as a family film. And the only reason I mention that is because of the annoyance some people feel about this movie.
I’ve seen that sometimes if people hold hatred for a certain film, or they think it’s “just so bad,” is sometimes because it’s not for them. Adults are not supposed to be supremely impressed by a children’s film because it’s not made for them. Adults can maybe appreciate a children/family film and see the value in it, but some of the writing or acting choices in the film might be seen as unrealistic or goofy and that’s because it’s not for adults. These choices don’t make a film “bad,” it’s just for a different audience to enjoy and that’s exactly how I’ve always viewed A Christmas Story. The story is told from the viewpoint of a young boy and thus, how he reacts to these situations are how a child would react so anyone under 12 is going to enjoy it. I also feel that if adults go into this film seeing it this way, then they might not take it so seriously nor might they grow such a strong hatred for it. And, to be fair, plenty of adults enjoy this film strictly for the nostalgia factor.
One of the aspects of this film that some might miss is how the adults act: the mother and father are very funny in how serious they take the situations in the film. When the father wins that famous leg lamp and displays it in the house, the mother acts as if he brought home a human head he collected himself. Consequently, when the mother accidentally breaks the lamp later in the film, the father acts as if he found her fucking the mall Santa Claus. The ridiculous, almost cartoonish, reactions add to the child-like tone of the film.
FINAL WORDS: It’s Christmas, so give your youngest child a weapon, put on some Nat King Cole, and watch the snow fall.