Isn’t it bizarre that some things just don’t make it across the pond from the USA to the UK? For example, Charlie Brown is a staple of both Halloween and Christmas in the US, yet somehow, no one seems to care too much about it on this side of the Atlantic. I’m not sure if Americans are aware of that, so I’m sorry to shock you if you didn’t know. Another thing that might shock you? A Christmas Story just isn’t a thing over here either. Unless you’re a cinema-obsessive or a Christmas movie afficionado, it’s more than likely that you’ve never even heard of this film if you’re a Brit. Like I said: bizarre.
Perhaps one reason for this in this case is that A Christmas Story is heavily focused on the American kid’s experience of Christmas in the United States, and I’m sure that experience is actually much different to that of the British child’s experience. Although obviously slightly outdated in the fact that this is very much a movie of the 80s, there’s something so American about this one, and you don’t even have to look very hard to see it.
Set in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana in the 1940s, the film’s simple premise is that young Ralph – a funny, mischievous yet charming boy – is going to do everything he can to convince his parents (and Santa) that what he deserves for Christmas is a Red Ryder B.B. gun.
Definitely of its time and with some mild racism thanks to some classic Bob Clark (ffs Bob), but I can see why so many people (namely Americans for the aforementioned reasons) love this one.
Whilst we’re on the subject and as I’ve already alluded to, whilst I can’t speak for everyone, I’d never even heard of this movie until I joined Letterboxd.com. Yes, I am one of those aforementioned Brits who was completely oblivious of this movie’s entire existence. Why am I banging on about this? Well, it just feels like one of those movies that if you don’t have the nostalgia for it, it doesn’t quite make the same impact. Whilst it’s still enjoyable, it’s nothing mind blowing.
What charmed and surprised me most was how much I warmed to Peter Billingsley in the lead role. Not only does he have huge levels of charisma for a 10-11 year old, but his cheeky face and his grasp of the script is extremely commendable for one so young. Mostly though, I loved the casting choices for Ralphie’s parents in this one, both of whom made me chuckle several times throughout and both of whom I actually don’t know outside of this film. The scene with the broken lamp? Brilliant. Possibly the best part of the entire movie.
A Christmas Story doesn’t have a huge amount of storyline despite its epic-suggesting title; it is basically about a kid who wants a B.B. a gun for Christmas, which my incredibly short synopsis has already told you. However, the use of voiceover here is the best I’ve seen since Goodfellas, and the choice to show us this movie from a child’s perspective could not feel more Christmassy. (Yes, I know it’s still November!)
On the whole, this movie is simply just not a classic in our house, so it’s difficult to be unbiased when reviewing it. Regardless of the lack of nostalgia, it flew by and was mostly a an enjoyable watch. I’m glad I’ve seen it now at least.
A Christmas Story is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design:
Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½