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Summary

'Christmas Story' is kiddie korn
Airdate: Friday - November 18, 1983

Review

Last Update: 11-12-2012

Show Description
With Christmas more than a month away, most people don't know how they're going to get through Thanksgiving, much less Santa Claus. I'd call "A Christmas Story" opening today at the Guild Loews 83rd, Greenwich, and other showcases, Hollywood's way of rushing the season. By the time the holidays roll around, when children will be In need of a harmless little Christmas movie, this early turkey will already be stuffed, devoured, and sent out with the rest of the garbage. Pretty stupid timing if you ask me. Too bad, for as silly a piece of tinseled as A Christmas Story is, the message it brings of peace and good will is welcome. From the first strains of Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly, you know you are in for a lot of ho, ho, ho. The place Is Cleveland, the time is the 1940s, and the story revolves around the efforts of a 9-year old dumpling named Ralphie to get a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. ("The Holy Grail of Christmas presents," says the narrator who leans in the direction of metaphors so ludicrous that you may feel from time to time, like retching. Ralphie is played with uncanny intelligence and scene-stealing charm by a child named Peter Billingsley, who looks like a baby owl and acts like a baby Barrymore. Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin, as the parents, are a poor man's Blondie and Dagwood. None of them is helped by the lame direction of Bob Clark, whose claim to fame is the abysmal Porky's movies, or by the corny script written by humorist and radio personality Jean Shepherd. Worst or all, the film is seriously marred by the kind of ludicrous, pretentious narration that never allows you the luxury of figuring out what's going on because the narrator is always telling you what the characters are doing and thinking ahead of time. Hammily narrated by author Shepherd himself with such a phony relish you can almost see the drool from his lower lip, A Christmas Story spends half of its time with voice-overs like: "Rarely had words poured from my penny pencil with such feverish fluidity!" The other half is spent piling up American nostalgia in the form of Ovaltine commercials, Andrews Sisters records, Little Orphan Annie secret decoder rings, and terrifying visits to Santa Claus at Higbee's department store, where Santa's elves turn out to be sadists. Ralphie gets his mouth washed out with Lifebuoy soap for saying the terrible F word, and one of his playmates requires a visit from the fire department to unstuck his tongue from a frozen flagpole. Children will love it, but adults may cringe with embarrassment. They know better than Santa that America was never so innocent and untroubled, even in the days of oxydol's own Ma Perkins. Doesn't Jean Shepherd know there was a war going on at the same time? It was in all the papers
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