Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Flicks I've watched (Part 25)

Part 24.

What's it all about....Ralphie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Ralphie?
Are we meant to take more than we give.
Or are we meant to be kind?

Aaaand if only fools are kind, Ralphie, then I guess it's wise to be cruel!

And if life belongs only to the strong, Ralphie, what will you lend on an old golden rule?

As sure as I beeeeeliieeve there's a heaven abooooove, Raaaalphiiiieeee!!!!!

I knooow there's something much moooore,
Something even nooooon-believers caaan believe in.
I believe in love, Ralphie.
Without true love we just exist, Ralphie.
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Ralphie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you'll find love any day, Ralphie.....Raaalphiee.

*Snarky grin*
All right, let's get to it.

A Christmas Story (1983)

See here.

Pretty much said it all there, but I'm also going to cover the sequels.
I've worked out the chronology, and this is where it all starts, even though it's actually not the first Jean Shepherd adaptation by a longshot.

And, as popular as this film is, it's startling how little everyone knows of the larger Shepherd-verse.
Well, I'll try to fix that today.

My Summer Story (1994)

A.K.A "It Runs In The Family".

Came out in the early 90's but picks up immediately after "A Christmas Story".

Pretty good, actually.
Shepherd was still alive, and narrated again.
Adapted from other stories in the same book as "A Christmas Story", "In God We Trust (All Others Pay Cash)", which I own.

The only actor/character that carries over from ACS is Mrs. Shields.
Kieran Culkin plays Ralphie, Mary Steenburgen plays the mother, and Charles Grodin plays "the old man".

Ralphie competes with spinning tops, the conflict with the Bumpuses comes to a head, and the mom starts a revolt over "dish night"

I'd recommend it.

Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven Of Bliss (1988)

Expanded from one story in "In God We Trust", and padded out with some stuff from "Wanda Hickey's Night of Gold Memories (And Other Disasters)"

Another good one.

Directed by Richard Bartlett, who also did "The Great American Fourth Of July (and Other Disasters)".

Jean Shepherd narrates again.
Jerry O'Connell plays a 14 year old Ralphie, James Sikking (Star Trek III, Hulk) is "the old man", and Dorothy Lyman is the mother.

Here, the central plot is the family goes on an annual road trip to their favorite camping site, and the misadventures along the way.
It's sort of Ralphie meets "National Lampoon's Vacation".


A Christmas Story 2 (2012)


Not as cringe-inducingly awful as I thought it would be, but not good either.

They just aged the characters ahead a few years, and echoed all the moments of the first movie, and didn't use any of the sequel material from Jean Shepherd at all.
They either seemed oblivious to it, or didn't give a shit.
The latter seems more likely.

And again, "official", sequel my ass, Jean Shepherd is dead, and his material isn't in this at all.

Where's Wanda Hickey? Where's fuzz-head the wonder dog? Where's Ralphie's delivery job at the steel mill? Where's Flick's budding life of crime?

And most of all, where's the bleakness?
Shepherd sprinkled twinkly nostalgia over it, but it was the fucking depression.
This thing tries to be Norman Rockwell, and Shepherd isn't that.

In fact, as you'll see, Ralphie's adult chapters get even bleaker.

Ralph gets a car? Bullshit!
Ralph gets a beautiful girlfriend with no flaws? Bullshit!
The Old Man gets another leg lamp, and lives happily ever after?

No, I'd skip this one.
I only forced myself to watch it to make this review complete.

The Phantom Of The Open Hearth (1976)

A PBS special, it came out when I was 1 year old.
The actual first one of these.

Shepherd narrates, and actually also plays the adult Ralphie onscreen.
He's not just a voice this time.
He's there for this whole sorta-trilogy.

Mainly about teenage Ralphie taking Wanda Hickey to the prom, even though he thinks she's a dog, but heaven forbid he not go to prom, or worse, go alone.

Wow...Ralphie really grew up into a shallow asshole.
And he doesn't learn from this, he stays an asshole.

Wanda Hickey is actually cute in this, I thought, but...that's the actress, maybe the one in the book looked like a horse or something, and had a personality like Sarah Palin, but geeze...

If you're not attracted to someone, leave 'em the fuck alone.
This "last chopper out of 'Nam", mentality guys have in this country has to go.

It really seemed to be some gloomy message of compromise, and surrender, and settling.
Fuck you, Shepherd, fuck you.
And fuck all the rest of you jelly-spines across America.
I've been using that word a lot lately, but godDAMN America is full of cowards.
Leading their pathetic lives of defeat.
"Home of the brave", my ass.

The characters you like and remember are there, but...ehh...like I said in the original "The Christmas Story", review, adult Ralphie kinda sucks.

Oh, yeah, and the leg lamp and dish night stories get rehashed.
But, where this came out first, I guess it would be a...pre-hash?

Interesting to see though, as a prototype for the better adaptations.
I actually didn't DISlike it, despite my barking at it.
Even though I disagree with Shepherd's jaundiced worldview, he is/was a damned good storyteller.
I would recommend it.
I'd recommend all the actual Shepherd ones.
"A Christmas Story 2", is the only real dud, and I consider it counterfeit.

Watch it here on Youtube.

The Great American Fourth Of July 
(And Other Disasters) (1982)

Another PBS special. This time, part of "American Playhouse".
Came out just a year before "A Christmas Story", hit theaters.
From the director of "Ollie Hopnoodle".

Picks up from "Phantom", and this time, Matt Dillon plays Ralph.

Pre-hashes the fireworks story from "My Summer Story", and mentions Wanda Hickey like she was a humanoid bout with the clap.
So, Ralphie is still an asshole.

This time, he gets his just desserts, when he takes out a beauty queen, and figures out he's the pathetic favor-date.
This kinda-almost antidotes the Wanda Hickey story, but comes along way too long after.

Also, pre-hashes the marching band baton story from "My Summer Story.

It's cut up into 6 pieces, but...

Watch here on Youtube.

The Star-Crossed Romance Of 
Josephine Cosnowski (1985)

Another "American Playhouse".
Came out 2 years after "A Christmas Story".

Has a different Ralphie, and The Old Man, but all the other same actors are back from "4th Of July", as are all the same sets, and establishing shots.

Same director as "Phantom".
Some shmuck I've never heard of is Ralphie.
Just like in "Phantom", and ACS2.

Ralphie's boner leads him into lady trouble again.
After Wanda Hickey, and learning jack shit from "4th Of July", he deserves everything he gets.

Watch it here.

Aaaand, that's it, that's all seven.


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