Best Movies of All Time + Tedde Moore



"I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!"
-- Ralphie
A Christmas Story is a 1983 comedy film directed by Bob Clark that has since become a Christmastime classic. It tells the story of young Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) who only wants an "official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle" for Christmas. Essentially, the majority of the film focuses around Ralphie's continued attempts to get his parents to buy him the air rifle, but neither his mother (Melinda Dillon) nor his father (Darren McGavin) seems to keen on the idea. Every adult he talks to reminds him that he'll "put his eye out" if he ever gets the air rifle, but despite their constant opposition, Ralphie remains optimistic that he'll be in for quite a treat come Christmas morning.

Despite the fact that A Christmas Story is a certified holiday classic that pre-dates my own life, I have never actually seen the film until watching it just now. I had seen some of the more famous snippets here and there, but I didn't actually know the storyline behind the film until watching it in its entirety. And I have to say, I found quite a bit to like about the story.

Let's start with the screenplay. I think what I liked most was the fact that, while it was narrated by an adult, it was told through the eyes of a child. The entire film revolves around Ralphie's obsession with receiving the air rifle for Christmas, and it shows every little thing he'll do in order to have his parents, Santa or anyone else bring it to him come Christmas morning. Interwoven with this main story are a series of smaller plot-lines - I suppose you could call them vignettes of sorts. These little snippets add a bit of comedy and structure to the overall air rifle bit, and it helps take us away from that main story for a little bit of time as well. If the film simply centered on a boy's desire to receive one distinct toy, then I'm not sure whether A Christmas Story would be as successful. Just take a look at 1996's Jingle All the Way. Also, the dialogue in the screenplay is very well-written, and I think each character is crafted through their dialogue moreso than the things they do. We all know how big I am on screenplays, and we know just how much good dialogue plays a part in creating a good screenplay, so I have to applaud our screenwriters here for their outstanding work.

We're also getting some very good acting performances throughout the film. The best performance has to go to our child lead in Peter Billingsley, but I don't offer him that accolade for the standard boy he plays. Rather, I insist he has it based off the daydreams his character has throughout the film. In those daydreams, he becomes other people (i.e., a gun-toting cowboy), and it's in these moments where we see his best work. Ralphie's parents also bring great performances, and Dillon and McGavin play off each other quite well. One of the better performances in the film belongs to Tedde Moore, who plays Ralphie's schoolteacher, Miss Shields. And while there's some truly over-the-top bits here and there throughout the film, most of the cast fills out rather nicely, giving us a surprisingly strong ensemble for A Christmas Story.

Ultimately, this is a holiday classic that you shouldn't think about missing come the Christmas season. Whether it's the strong desire for that one particular toy or the iconic image of Ralphie dropping the F-bomb, there's just so much to like about A Christmas Story, and I think it's a film to which most people will be able to relate.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B+
2 Thumbs Up

1983, Bob Clark, Christmas Story, comedy, Darren McGavin, holiday, life, Melinda Dillon, movie review, Peter Billingsley, and more:

Relevant to: A CHRISTMAS STORY + Tedde Moore