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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story
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Review by Marc Girdler | posted January 18, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) can only think of one thing he wants for Christmas this year, a Red Rider BB gun. But before Christmas arrives, Ralphie goes through the gauntlet of holiday woes. You name it, it happens to Ralphie or someone he knows. The whole "tongue getting stuck to the flagpole" old wives' tale actually occurs, as well as other mishaps. Ralphie is convinced he must have that gun, no matter what his mother says. Even though he hears the dangers of shooting his eye out with it, he wants that gun more than anything. And no matter how many obstacles, be it school bullies or a sadistic Santa, will keep from his "Holy Grail of Christmas presents," the holy Red Rider BB gun.

This is easily a classic, and few movies have really buried themselves in tradition like this one. Every Christmas, this movie rolls onto television, sometimes for a solid twenty-four hours! If this movie is not on television somehow, it just doesn't feel like the season. The reason this movie works so well is the fact that the family is not perfect. In fact, they are as downright dysfunctional as any of us. That gives the movie an appeal that is universal, we've all heard the cliches the mother and father spit out, but never with this much of a twisted feel. The movie is very funny, but also quite disturbing. I appreciate this picture much more now than I did as a child. While the disc lacks the quality we expect from DVD, the movie's draw makes the disc worth a purchase.

The video looks bad, but not as bad as I read in other reviews. If you have watched the television or VHS versions, you'll be happy with this disc. The image is better than either of those mentioned, but is surely not the best the movie can look. First off, the movie is presented full frame, which sucks, but these type of "family" films tend to end up with no widescreen option from Warner. Anyway, the print is in dire condition, with heavy nicks and flecks to be seen. But it is far from unwatchable, although a restoration would be a divine motion from Warner. The colors are decent, looking natural and full, but some scenes have very muted colors, and a little bleeding can be seen from time to time. Black levels are solid, and little detail is lost in the shadows. While the image is far from perfect, fans of the movie will appreciate the disc. But please, Warner, restore, widescreen, and special edition this classic!

Presented in a mono mix, the disc sounds decent, but could have been better with a newly mixed track. Dialogue sounds clear and crisp, no problems with interference from the music or effects either. You can watch the movie in English, French, or Spanish, and the disc has subtitles in those languages as well. The only extra provided is the theatrical trailer, which is full frame.

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