Anniversary Special Edition - 1983 (2003) - Warner Bros.
by Robert Smentek of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/B+
Specs and Features
Disc One - The Film
93 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full
frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered, digipak packaging, audio
commentary (with stars Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon and
writer/director Bob Clark), theatrical trailer, Easter
egg, animated film-themed menus with music and sound, scene
access (32 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 1.0 mono),
subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned
One - Supplemental Materials
3 featurettes (Another Christmas Story,
Get a Leg Up and
History of the Daisy Red Rider),
original readings/radio shows featuring writer Jean Shepherd, 2
interactive games, Easter egg, animated
film-themed menus with music, languages: English (DD 2.0),
subtitles: none, Closed Captioned
"You'll shoot your eye out!"
In the movie world, you have your "Hits", and you have
your "Classics." Hits are the movies that make a ton of
money and sell millions of DVDs in their first week of release.
Classics are the movies that stick with us, and become firmly
imbedded in our pop culture. These are the films whose dialogue
becomes a part of our daily conversation, and which withstand dozens
and dozens of repeated viewings. Occasionally, your hits and
classics will crossover (eg, Star Wars,
Jaws) but every once and a
while, a movie will rise from obscurity and become loved by millions
through word-of-mouth. A Christmas Story
is one such film.
Like that other perennial television favorite,
It's a Wonderful Life, Bob
Clark's A Christmas Story was
virtually ignored during its original theatrical run. However,
through repeated showings on cable television throughout the 1980s,
the film has become a holiday classic... maybe even THE holiday
classic. One of the few movies to capture the American Christmas
experience, A Christmas Story
is a hilarious look at both the anxiety and sentiment of the holiday
Based the autobiographical stories of humorist Jean Shepherd,
A Christmas Story is the story
of Ralph Parker, a boy who wants one thing for Christmas... an
official Red Rider carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle
with a compass in the stock and "this thing" that tells
time. Unfortunately for Ralph, his dream is consistently shot down
with five little words: "You'll shoot your eye out!"
Moreover, Ralph continually struggles with the various hardships of
being a kid: bullies, grades, and the terminally angry "Old Man"
(brilliantly played by Darren McGavin).
Why say more? You've seen the movie. EVERYBODY has seen the movie.
Hell, Ted Turner runs it for 24-hours on one of his cable stations.
But what is it that's made A Christmas
Story more welcome at the holidays than most of our
Although it's obviously set during the Christian holiday season,
A Christmas Story is not
geared towards a certain religious group. In fact, you could say
that this movie is more about Family than it is about Christmas. The
situations seen in A Christmas Story
are so common and familiar that virtually every American family can
identify with some part of it. Moreover, Jean Sheppard (who co-wrote
the screenplay, adapting his own stories) does a fantastic job at
capturing the feeling of being 8 years old. Ralph Parker is the
perfect everyman, or everykid to be precise. A
Christmas Story never falters from portraying the world
through the eyes of a kid.
Previously offered as a Scrooge-like, bare-bones edition, Warner
Bros' new 20th Anniversary special edition of A
Christmas Story finally gives this movie the DVD release
it deserves. Presented in both full-screen and anamorphic widescreen
formats, the film looks great. The visual difference between the new
DVD and the washed out cable versions we are all accustomed to is
striking. Not only is A Christmas Story
a funny movie, but it's also a beautiful one. In many scenes,
director Bob Clark (best known for cinematic triumphs like
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
and Porky's) makes
Depression-era Indiana look like a holiday greeting card. Some
viewers may be disappointed that the disc's audio is limited only to
1.0 Dolby Digital, but this movie doesn't require the sonic
attention needed for Lord of the Rings.
It's more than acceptable.
This new special edition is also loaded with enough extras to
please the DVD collector. On Disc One, there is commentary supplied
by Ralphie himself (Peter Billingsley), director Bob Clark, and
Melinda Dillon (hilarious as Ralph's high-strung mom). The
commentary is entertaining and informative. They share production
anecdotes and seem genuinely honored to be a part of this movie.
Moreover, you will be shocked at how complicated it was to produce
the tongue-stuck-to-the-flagpole scene. Disc Two is loaded with a
number of fun featurettes. Another
Christmas Story offers a where-are-they-now look at the
film's young cast. There are also features devoted to the infamous "Leg
Lamp" and the history of Red Rider BB guns. Both of these are
very short, but fun. Other extras include interactive trivia, a
secret decoder match challenge, and a pair Easter eggs (see
instructions below). The first, on Disc One, is a script excerpt
from a deleted scene involving Ralphie dreaming of himself fighting
alongside Flash Gordon. The second, on Disc Two, is a funny Leg Lamp
"infomercial". And of course, a DVD wouldn't be a DVD
without the theatrical trailer. Perhaps this special edition's very
best extras is a set of original radio show readings done by the
late Jean Shepherd. Shepherd, who also served as the film's
narrator, has a speaking voice that is as unique as his writing
voice. The readings are funny and sweet, and are a fitting tribute
to an American original.
Movies like A Christmas Story
are uncommon. It's more than a film; it's a tradition. Thankfully,
Warner Bros' has finally produced a DVD version of it destined to be
on the holiday wish lists of millions of people. I triple-dog-dare
you to not enjoy this release.
To access a deleted scene script excerpt, go to the special
features menu page and navigate "down" from the theatrical
trailer selection. You'll highlight a Christmas present icon. Press
To access the Leg Lamp infomercial, go to the special features menu
page and navigate "right" from the additional special
features selection. You'll highlight a Christmas present icon. Press