The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
If it’s Christmas time, you know it means twenty-four hours of “A Christmas Story” from director Bob Clark on TBS and TNT. It has become a holiday tradition for many people and a good background distraction for families as they gather to open presents, eat and spend time together. As with any Christmas film which is hugely popular, people are known to quote the lines from this one as they hold it near and dear to their hearts. However, how does “A Christmas Story” hold up in 2022?
“A Christmas Story” is set in Northern Indiana and follows young Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), a nine-year-old kid who wants one thing for Christmas—a Red Ryder BB Gun. However, he is told by his mother, his teacher and even a mall Santa that he will shoot his eye out. This does not stop him from pulling out all the stops to get it though, including leaving behind little hints for his mother. Ralphie also has a peculiar little brother named Randy who likes to play with his food and hide in tiny spaces. He’s also joined by his overworked mother (Melinda Dillon) and cranky father (Darren McGavin).
The film is told from Ralphie POV as an adult as he looks back on this particular Christmas. We get to see him at school as he’s trying to focus on his classes while also pining over the Red Ryder BB gun. He’s also dealing with the local school bully named Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) who terrorizes Ralphie and his friends Flick and Schwartz, played by Scott Schwartz and R.D. Robb. They get into the usual tomfoolery at school such as Flick getting his tongue stuck to a post outside school, which causes him to need medical attention.
Ralphie’s father is also obsessed with a leg lamp which he sees as a major award, even though it brings his wife a great deal of shame and embarrassment. The father is also dealing with being hounded by the dogs next door. There is a lot going on in Ralphie’s life, but one thing remains the same—he wants the Red Ryder BB gun. He is counting down the days until Christmas, and he is hoping he will find it under the tree, no matter what it takes. I think we can all relate to that period of time in our lives as a child hoping for that special present as if it were the most important thing in the world.
I do feel though that “A Christmas Story” is overrated simply because of the fact it’s been on TNT and TBS since 1997. Sometimes if an audience sees something enough, they tend to fall in love with it based on repetition or the memories it conjures up for them. It is not a bad movie by any means. It is based on “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by Jean Shepherd which, according to my research, featured semi-fictional tidbits. I just don’t think there is a story or a plot here. It is filled with movie moments and memorable lines which have stayed with people throughout the years. My favorite Christmas movie of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life” with “Elf” coming in at number two, which I recently reviewed.
There is humor to be found here, and I understand what they were trying to go for with the story and the theme. I just didn’t feel like it was enough to make a full-length film. Even though it’s only 93 minutes, there are times where the film drags and feels a little insignificant. I didn’t hate the film nor did I love it either. It’s watchable, but there is nothing which really stands out to me. The film doesn’t have an “it factor” like the other two Christmas movies I mentioned. It’s just mindless silliness, which is fine, but it doesn’t make for a great movie. It makes for an average movie.
* * ½ out of * * * *
4K/Blu-ray Info: “A Christmas Story” is released on a two-disc 4K/Blu-ray combo pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment that also comes with a digital copy of the film. It is rated PG and runs at 93 minutes.
4K Info: They have done a masterful job of cleaning up this picture. I’ve seen it many times over the years in bits and pieces on TV, but this is, far and away, the best it has ever looked. There is no grain whatsoever on the picture. It is crystal clear, and the HDR gives the film a new life.
Audio Info: The audio formats are DTS-HD MA: English 2.0 Mono and Dolby Digital: English and French. Subtitles are included in English, Spanish, and French. The audio has also never sounded better on 4K. You can hear everything perfectly, and the sound is consistent throughout the film.
Audio Commentary by Bob Clark and Peter Billingsley
Christmas in Ohio: A Christmas Story House
Another Christmas Story
Daisy Red Ryder: A History
Get a Leg Up
“Flash Gordon” Deleted Script Pages
The Leg Lamp Spot
Jean Shepherd Original Radio Reading
Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid (HD, 38:07)
Should You Buy It?
If we are strictly talking about the audio and video of this 4K release of “A Christmas Story,” this is a must own if you are a fan of the film. Having seen it on TV at many Christmas parties and also having watched the Blu-ray in the past, this is an incredible transfer on 4K. The film looks great. Keep in mind, the filmmakers have set this story in the 1940’s, even though it was released in 1983. It looks out of this world on 4K. I was really impressed with the audio and video here and every little detail that was popping up on screen. I give the audio and video four stars on this release. You get the special features that were on the Blu-ray in the past, which is expected. If you are a fan of the film, you NEED to own it on 4K, there is no question about it. If you have grown tired of the film or don’t find it funny (I fall into the latter category), you can pass on it. However, I have a feeling this is going to be a hot-seller for fans of Christmas movies. It just doesn’t work for me.
**Disclaimer** I received a copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.