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Is It Garbage? A Christmas Story

Every once in awhile we have to look back at something we may consider “classic” and ask the age old question, “Is it garbage?” Emotions, found memories, and nostalgia, play an important role in memory and how we remember things from the past.

I think the phrase “holiday classic” gets thrown around these days. Look, we all have shows that we love to watch, shows that remind us of our childhood, or family traditions. That doesn’t mean that what we are watching is good! Since it’s almost time for the yearly 24hr marathon of “A Christmas Story”, and “A Christmas Story Live!” will be airing  on December 17th, it’s time to take a closer look at Ralphie and his family.

Let’s examine the facts.

Title: A Christmas Story
Starring: Peter Billingsly, Darrin McGaven
Released: November 18, 1983
Premise: The story revolves around nine year old Ralphie, an average little boy who wanted only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. Along the way, we get a look at an average American family in the 1940’s
Money: Initially a moderate success, the film earned about $2 million in its first weekend. Gross earnings were right around $20,605,209. This does not include money that the show has made via merchandise and DVD sales.
Critics: Initially a sleeper hit, with mixed reviews. Over time the film has evolved into a “Christmas Classic”.

The Good: Let’s start with Jean Shepherd’s narration. Being so close to the source material, you can feel the narration connect to the visuals in a very special and meaningful way. The film perfectly captures a snapshot of what family life was like in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s. Nostalgic goodness with a dark and humorous edge. It’s the kind of family friendly film that adults can watch without banging their heads off the wall.

The Bad:  A Christmas Story is shown as a series of vignettes that allow the movie to be filled with small perfect moments. If I had to think of a bad thing to say about the movie, it would be that some the vignettes would have easily been used for a second movie. A good second movie, not that piece of shit made for TV movie, Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss, or its 1994 big screen sequel, My Summer Story (It Runs In The Family).

The Ugly: Some people may be shocked by the fact that three of the semi-autobiographical short stories writer Jean Shepherd  based the screenplay on were originally published in Playboy magazine between 1964 and 1966. Not me, because, you know, the articles were good.

Is it garbage? OH HELL NO!  Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. I triple dog dare you!


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