A Christmas Story
- MPAA Rating: G
- Running Time: 94 minutes
- Recommended for ages 10+
Quick Take: Double-dog dare you to only watch it once.
A Christmas Story
The beauty of A Christmas Story is that while it takes us to back to another time (the 1940s), it is so grounded in a kid's world that we still connect with Ralphie and his family. Ralphie's world is a very different place from ours. Kids ride around without seatbelts (never mind carseats), Dad swears in the front of the kids, moms yell and occasionally whack their kids, and moms always wear skirts and stockings, even out in the snow. There are laugh-out-loud moments of Mom stuffing Ralphie's little brother into his snowsuit (no lightweight down back then!) and trying to get him to eat. And then there is the arrival of Dad's "major award" lamp in the shape of a woman's leg, complete with a fishnet stocking and a fringed shade.
As different as this world is, the joys, hopes, and sharp disappointments that Ralphie deals with are universal. With his oversize glasses and his single wish for that air rifle, Ralphie is Everykid, wanting something so badly and doing everything he can to get it. Then, as now, bullies are still bullies, with Scut Farcus terrorizing Ralphie and his friends. Teachers still have a drawerful of confiscated toys, and there is still a load of trouble if a kid breaks his glasses or says a bad word.
Kids Will Like:
Ralphie overcomes all to get what he wants, fulfilling every child's dream that s/he'll find that one special present under tree. Ralphie also beats the bully Scut Farcus, literally and figuratively.
Parents Will Like:
Life in the "good old days" was far from perfect, but it's fun to watch Ralphie's wacky household operate without a thought of who might be scarred by Dad's swearing, Mom's yelling, or the invasion of the Bumpus dogs from next door. Life on Cleveland Street is never sugarcoated, but there is a genuine sense that everyone loves one another and is doing their part to make this slightly oddball family work.
Plus, there's a guilty pleasure, too, in watching someone else struggle with tangled Christmas lights, blown fuses, flat tires, and a failing furnace.
There is some swearing in the film by both adults and kids. It's kept in a realistic context, and while you wouldn't want your kids repeating it, it's not excessive. Also, when Ralphie says the big word ("Fudge" in the film), he is made to sit with a bar of soap in his mouth.
Ralphie beats Scut Farcus until his nose is bloody and stops only when his mother pulls him away. Again, it's not behavior you want to encourage, but kids (and secretly their parents) will still cheer as Ralphie finally ends Scut's bullying.
The scene with the department store Santa is enough to keep any child from getting in line. Crabby elves drag kids up to him, and Santa shoves Ralphie down the exit slide with one of his shiny black boots.
Absolutely, for a classic you'll watch every Christmas.