A Christmas Story (DVD, 2007)
This movie remains so fresh with each viewing, it is easy to forget that it is almost twenty years old. Told from Ralphie's viewpoint, these are the Christmas reminiscences of an adult whose pre-teen Christmas wish is a BB-gun that adults discouraged with the phrase "You'll shoot your eye out."
In his quest to convince his parents that he is old enough to have a BB-gun, young Ralphie hatches several plots, including writing the best "What I Want for Christmas" essay in his class, being leaving BB-gun ads in conspicuous places, and, as a last resort, asking Santa Claus. (Parents with young sons, beware: you may want to delay purchasing this film until you are ready to deal with a similar request.)
Told in episodic fashion, there are many vignettes which stand out: Ralphie wearing Aunt Martha's Christmas present, visiting Santa Claus and helping his father change a flat-tire come to mind immediately. Exaggerated acting, distorted camera angles, and day-dream sequences all enhance the child's viewpoint, but do not detract from the film's excellent portrayal of 1950's small-town Christmas ritual.
Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin have a tongue-in-cheek style as Ralphie's parents. Peter Billingsley has just the right pre-teen balance between adorable and obnoxious, and Ian Petrella is downright irritating as baby brother Randy. Among the smaller roles, Zack Ward is perfect as the clay-footed bully and Tedde Moore excellent as Ralphie's kind, but practical teacher. (Jean Shepherd, the author and narrator of the film makes a cameo appearance standing in line, waiting for Santa.)
This is one to enjoy each Christmas.