25 Days of Christmas - The Nice List: A Christmas Story
I confess, I did not watch A Christmas Story in its entirety until two or three years ago. Yes, I know TBS runs it for 24 hour marathons on Christmas Eve, but I had managed to avoid it for decades. Of course, I was accustomed to all the pop culture references: the leg lamp, the bunny suit, the tongue stuck on the pole, "You'll shoot your eye out." And perhaps all of this nostalgia and pop culture is why I'm not overly sentimental toward the film.
Don't get me wrong: A Christmas Story is perfectly charming in its own right (despite the painful racism of the final scene). It hits the nail on the head when it comes to that long ago feeling of wanting something so desperately for Christmas, it's all you could dream, think, talk or write about. But having not seen the film when I had that feeling as a child, I make no special connection with it.
There are funny moments to the film that make me chuckle, but I believe that society's severe over-attachment to this modern classic has perhaps diluted its potency as a film. A Christmas Story no longer feels like a cohesive story in its own right, but more a collection of silly moments torn from the source material to sell a bunch novelty items this time of year. Many moments of the film seem quite superfluous to the central plot. Why the broken furnace? Why the bully? Why the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin? At a mere 94 minute, all these extra scenes, that have not made quite the splash in pop culture, have come to feel like cheap padding. If it were just a story about being a kid, I'd understand but it's so specific to the holiday season, that these moments don't seem to really fit into the overall celebration of Christmas.
Is it a strong enough film to warrant being played 24 straight hours on Christmas Eve or have a Hallmark ornament dedicated to the Leg Lamp every single year? In my humble opinion, no. Then again, with my coming into the film so late in life, I'm more the outsider looking in, the kid with my nose pressed against the toy store glass, wondering what the big deal about that damn BB gun is anyway.