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4.4 out of 5 stars
A Christmas Story (Full Screen)
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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
on October 11, 2003
A CHRISTMAS STORY is the only classic Christmas movie to be made since SCROOGE in 1970 and it deserves five stars or more for its humor, honest sentiment, satire and brilliant recreation of a past era in American history.
However, this "special" edition does not do it justice. It is nice to have it finally available on DVD in a widescreen version (although there is doubt as to whether this is actually the original widescreen aspect), but the extras are sorely lacking.
This certainly did not require a 2-disc version. What do you get on the extra disc? A promised "documentary" which is really an 18 minute featurette, two five minute "documentaries" on BB guns and leg lamps. Two silly games which shouldn't take the dullest more than 10 minutes to complete. And a couple of audio readings by Jean Shepherd of his classic monologues.
On the movie disc you get the movie in both wide and fullscreen versions (though actually as I stated earlier you may actually be getting less of a picture on the widescreen than on the fullscreen version!) with a not very informative commentary by Peter Billingsley and director Bob Clark. (Melinda Dillon is promised on the DVD cover, but she appears not at all.)
I regret now selling my widescreen laserdisc version. Not only was I fairly confident that it was the original projection aspect, but it had a great Norman Rockwell style painting on the cover depicting all the characters, not the bland color picture of Billingsley you get on the DVD.
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on October 7, 2003
"A Christmas Story" is the brilliant spoof and satire of 'traditional' family life, set during the depression. From the narrative rose-colored memories of his own childhood, Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) reflects on the year when he desired nothing more than to own his own shot gun. Mom (Melinda Dillon), of course, is dead set against the purchase. Dad (Darrin McGavin) might be a bit more receptive to the idea, having just won a company sponsored contest in which the grand prize is a fish-netted stocking lamp. A slew of calamities ensue that perfectly and poignantly capture all of the cliché and kitsch of the period. Who can forget the incident at school where Schwartz's (R.D. Robb) tongue gets glued to an ice cold metal pole on a dare, or the hilarious Christmas dinner scene at a Chinese restaurant? When Mr. Parker declares that he can't eat the goose he's been served because "it's staring at me" a diligent waiter produces a cleaver and promptly decapitates the bird right in front of the whole family. Mmmm, yummy! Truly, this is one funny film!
Warner gives us an average effort in their DVD remastering of this film. Previously, "A Christmas Story" had been made available in a full frame only edition with no extras. This time around we are given an anamorphic widescreen transfer but contrast levels continue to be too low and the colors, somewhat muted. Certain scenes are incredibly soft while others suffer from considerable film grain. Pixelization, aliasing and edge enhancement exist throughout. The audio is mono and nicely balanced. Disappointing - nevertheless.
The author of the book - Jean Shepherd, reads his story as part of the extra features that also include a new documentary on the making of the film and some hidden easter eggs (how ironic - easter eggs for Christmas!) as well as the theatrical trailer and a generally benign trivia game.
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on February 26, 2002
First, shame on the outfit responsible for this DVD for not putting it out in its original theatrical widescreen ratio and otherwise providing those extras that give DVD the potential to be so superior to VHS (or regular broadcast television, for that matter). Presented in a decent DVD format, I'd've rated this 4 stars.
Now, to the movie itself. It's very good, something of a minor classic, enjoyable on several different levels, and bears repeated viewings. The raves that dominate among the customer reviews here tend to go too far, but still this is a wonderful little movie, brimming with wit, insight, rich characterization and period detail.
That said, some warning is needed beyond the PG rating -- many parents are apt not to take the PG seriously here, especially with the wholesome, somewhat saccharine photo montage bedecking its box.
This is actually something of a dark comedy, with a mildly cynical view of childhood, a gently subversive attitude toward adult authority, and a jaundiced, almost paranoid, take on commercialism. There are moments of deceit, cruelty, intimidation, and (well-deserved) violence, all played for laughs. (There are heartwarming moments as well, applaudably noncloying.) Parents of young children take note.
This is no FATHER KNOWS BEST or LEAVE IT TO BEAVER: There's no wise parent or pat ending here to iron out the wrinkles in the children's lives. What you get is a wry look at the (more or less) real life of a little middle-class boy, once upon a time in the Midwest.
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on November 27, 2000
This classic gentle satire of a Christmas movie would surely have been worth a loving transfer to DVD. I've just returned a rental copy of it, though, and was at least mildly disappointed.
First of all, the movie was on the disc in "full screen" mode only. Our first reaction was to take it out and see if the widescreen version was on the other side. What, we don't get letterboxes? Is this different from every other DVD for some reason?
There's also a little wobble to the image out on the edges, though it's not a serious distraction once you're watching for a bit. The soundtrack actually had a noticeable oscillation to it in spots; I'm no audiophile, but when music plays you can hear it actually -- uh, "wobbling," would be the word. Very odd in a major studio film...
I really don't understand why a movie this beloved would have been neglected in the transfer to DVD. You'd expect some extras at least -- we get nothing but the movie and the scene selections. Why not at least include some of Jean Shepherd's written stories, to give people the flavor of the original book from which this was adapted?
Maybe the studios just don't "get" this one, even now. When A Christmas Story was originally released, the ads in the paper tried to make it look like a typical National Lampoon sort of movie. It's not like that. The studio never did understand what they had. Now they don't realize how it caught on despite them, and they're neglecting it. Bozos.
Speaking of Jean Shepherd, people who love this movie might try picking up his original story collection "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash." It includes the chapters on which "A Christmas Story" was based. The tone of the movie is dead on; Jean Shepherd was one of the adapters for this screenplay, and he's the narrator in the movie. If a twelve-year-old kid you know likes the movie, that book would be a great gift.
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on October 18, 1999
I bought this DVD version hoping that the transfer would be of a somewhat higher quality than the former MGM DVD release. Unfortunately, it looks like they may have simply taken the pan and scan version that Turner owns (the Turner logo is prominently featured) and runs each year on TBS, and simply cleaned the video and sound up a bit.
The video quality is fairly clean (no obvious scratches, dirt, hair lines, etc) and the sound is clear, but at times sounds like a slightly warped record (wavy notes).
In the area of supplements, the DVD comes only with alternate languages, subtitles, and the theatrical trailer.
This transfer is obviously not taken from the original print, and it's a shame, because it deserves it. The title, however, is worth the money regardless. The price is fair, and if a souped-up version is released in the future, it won't be for a year or two. In the meantime, given its price point, it's a good buy for those who love the movie.
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on December 8, 2002
There. I've finally ensured that this title will be available in a widescreen special edition. Any time I break down and finally buy a DVD of a favorite film which seems to refuse to break into special edition form, within 12 months, it happens. I did this with Holy Grail, Evil Dead 2, and Wallace and Gromit.
As I view it now, I find this edition to be very viewable. It looks better than it does on TV every year. It is clear and I see no compression artifacts. Sound is fine, although monaural. I would like to see it widescreen, fully restored, with commentary or retrospective interviews. It surprises me to know that the original laserdisc presentation was, in widescreen (1.66:1). Why they didn't carry this over to the DVD is beyond me.
As others have written, I give this movie 5 stars and the presentation drags it, kicking and screaming, to 3. I'll write a new reivew review in a year's time once it goes SE.
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on December 11, 2002
My wife and her family *love* this movie, which is why I give it more than one star. And, to be fair, the acting, writing, and directing are all perfectly fine, earning it another star.
What bothers me is how depressing the story is. That kid and everyone around him: his parents, his teachers, the kids at his school, all interact together in a dysfunctional circus that would make a great Jerry Springer show if it were more exciting. There are a few highlights, both in humor and in drama, but they're not enough to overcome the general tone of whiny obsessiveness on the part of the characters.
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on December 6, 2002
As a movie, this gets 5 stars. It so accurately and comically depicts the wonder of Christmas for a child that it has become the favorite holiday movie for many families (not to mention basic cable, where it runs ad nauseum every year). The DVD transfer is one of the worst I have seen, however. The picture quality is at times wavy, blurred, and grainy, and the sound quality is substandard at best. In addition, Warner has until now only offered the DVD in full screen format (although a widescreen version is scheduled for Christmas 2003). That will be the version to own.
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on December 22, 2003
While the "extras" on the new DVD are fun there is much lacking. Insights from several leads were missing - Mom, The Old Man, Randy. Where is the Buck Rogers footage that ended up on the cutting room floor? I'd also have liked a "Whatever happened to..." information. I knew Peter Billingsley spent much of his time behind the camera these days working with Jon Favreau on Dinner for Five, but knew/know little to nothing of the others. All in all this special edition is just ok. It could have been much more "special."
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on December 15, 2003
This movie, some would say is right up there with, "It's a Wonderful Life". I have to disagree. Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad movie, but it's not that great. There are moments that are funny like the scene where the kid sticks his tongue on the lamp post in below freezing teperatures or the lead kid getting sent down the chute by Santa Claus. Other than that, it's at best, an average movie that serves it's purpose for the holiday. Good, but not Great!!
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