52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Christmas Story

94 min. | Dir. Bob Clark | Rated PG

According to IMDB.com, this movie is up 78% in popularity this week. This is also the percentage of Americans who have seen all or part of it, as it plays in heavy rotation on cable each December. So why bother heading to the Bay in Seal Beach and plunking down your cash in order to watch it with a bunch of strangers? For one thing, it’s better than that other holiday tradition we partake in among people we don’t know—shopping—and the reason is because this movie has a quality that is hard to find this time of year: A refusal of sentimentality. Jean Shepherd’s memoir, of an Indiana Christmas in the 1940’s, cuts out religion, baking for neighbors, and singing carols on moonlit streets. Instead, all his hero, cute-as-a-bespectacled-button Ralphie, wants for Christmas is a BB gun. His dad wants his sexy-leg lamp. And his mom wants to escape embarrassment. And yet there’s an unforced love among the lot of them that gives the movie genuine warmth. Bring the family. Soon, movie theatres will be as retro as the decoder ring Ralphie sends for and is ultimately disappointed by. Why? The message he decodes is an advertisement. It’s a throwaway joke, and a haunting one. // CHRIS DAVIDSON

[Published this week in the print edition of The District.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would LOVE some Ovaltine right now!