Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Story (1983)

You know, I had never seen A Christmas Story before tonight.  I mean, sure, I've randomly flipped through channels while it was on, but I've never actually watched more than a minute or two until now.  The only things I knew about this was that it's known as a holiday classic, there's a kid who wants an air rifle (despite being told he'd shoot his eye out), and that there was some sort of lamp shaped like a leg involved.

Now, I know a lot more about this.  For example, I know that it was written and narrated by Jean Shepherd, who, according to Wikipedia, "had two children, a son Randall and a daughter Adrien, but publicly denied this. Randall Shepherd describes his father as having frequently come home late or not at all. Randall had almost no contact with him after his parents' divorce."

Right now, I'm kind of glad Shepherd was an asshole.  It makes what I have to say about his legacy much easier.

As far as classics go, this one's at the bottom of the heap.  Oh, sure, there are a handful of good scenes - a few really good ones, to be fair - but those are few and far between.  Overall, this tested my resolve: if I hadn't vowed to see it, I don't think I could have made it through.

Why was it so bad?  Well, there are a few culprits.  First of all, there's little cohesion.  After finishing the movie, I wasn't at all surprised to learn that it was based on a bunch of short stories.  This makes the movie feel like a series of skits, some of which are really good (like the visit to the mall Santa) and some of which are abysmal (that goddamn lamp).  They tried to tie it all together using a bunch of connected sequences, such as showing the same kids chased through the same alley in fast forward again and again and again throughout the movie.  Oddly enough, no matter how many angles they shot that from, it never got any more interesting.

But if I had to select one aspect that really dragged this from potentially being an okay film down to being a waste of 24-hours of TBS's airtime, I'd have to select the narration.  Apparently, abandoning his kids and writing this thing weren't enough for Jean Shepherd: he also had to talk through the entire movie.  He has a couple amusing observations about the relative tastes of different kinds of soap, but other than that he just basically rehashes what's on screen in an incredibly obnoxious voice.  Very little he says is actually funny; for the most part, he just prattles on and distracts from the movie.

I strongly advise you stay away from TBS on Christmas day every year until they find a better movie to marathon.  I'm honestly stumped why this one is regarded as a classic, at all.

11 comments :

  1. It takes a brave man like you to say what has been on the minds of a terrified minority. You sir, you make me feel brave when I feel lonely. You inspire me to hate even more beloved classics excluding It's a Wonderful Life which is all messed up and awesome. In fact, I've also decided to hate that Christmas movie with James Taylor in it.

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  2. I think you're both completely wrong and this movie is well deserved of it's classic status. If only I had cable so I could force you to watch it for 24 hours straight...

    ...Laura out

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  3. Also, I challenge underdogepoch to actually name a real Christmas special featuring James Taylor...

    perhaps you're thinking of the kid from Home Improvement?

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  4. A Christmas Story was made by the same director who did Black Christmas. They're basically the same movie, except Black Christmas is unintentionally funny and A Christmas Story is kind of scary.

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  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqYGtYunJus

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  6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz7C4ZZRUY8&feature=related

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  7. That's not a movie. I'm not sure what it is - it's clearly not a song, either - but it's not a movie.

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  8. Picky men get slim pickins.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RengWX0P5KA&feature=related

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  9. Pfft...you lightweight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyfdHZLgdvw

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