December 7, 2017

A Christmas Story

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Welcome to Week 3 of #HolidayMoviepalooza! Larry couldn't manage to get out of work this week, so Derek recruited the guys' pal Troy Parker to record a commentary for this week's movie with him!

And that movie is the 1983 classic, A Christmas Story, based mostly on a story from Jean Shepherd's hilarious book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.

Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), a young man whose connection to reality is tenuous at best, is on a mission: he wants an "official Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time" for Christmas. He does not just want it. He has got to have it. And he will do anything to get his hands on that blue steel beauty.

Including trying not to offend Flight Commander Biggles.
Unfortunately, his biggest roadblock is his mother (Melinda Dillon), who immediately throws out the classic Mother Block, "You'll shoot your eye out."

Ralphie's Old Man (Darren McGavin) is not much help, either, as he is too busy fighting with the furnace, bitching about the family car, trying not to burn the house down, being attacked their hillbilly neighbors' hounds, and attempting to win puzzle contests in the newspaper.

And then there's Randy (Ian Petrella), Ralphie's non-eating, whiny little brother, who is an entire universe of problems in his own right.

Ralphie's friends, Flick (Scott Schwartz) and Schwartz (R.D. Robb), are completely oblivious, spending most of their time arguing about whether or not your tongue will stick to a frozen flagpole.

SPOILER: Yes it will.
The rest of their time is spent being harassed by the school bullies, Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) and Grover Dill (Yano Anaya).

Undaunted, Ralphie decides that his next plan of attack in his quest for weaponry should involve getting his teacher, Miss Shields (Tedde Moore), on his side, by writing a theme singing the praises of the Red Ryder Air Rifle. How could he lose?

Meanwhile, the Old Man's persistence pays off, and he wins one of his contests. He's getting a Major Award, which turns out to be just the best thing ever.

And Mom is absolutely thrilled for him.
Around this time, we also discover that Ralphie and his brother enjoy listening to Little Orphan Annie on the radio, although Ralphie's interest is solely based on his overwhelming desire to become a part of the Secret Society that Annie sends messages to at the end of her shows. The messages need to be decoded with a special device, available only from the show's sponsor, Ovaltine, and although he sent away for one, his hasn't shown up yet. (This is the sort of thing people did in the 1930s because there was no Twitter.)

The brutal beatdowns from Farkus and Dill continue, consisting mostly of the two of them yelling, "RAAAAAAAWR!" at Ralphie and his friends, and the occasional arm twist. Flick suffers most of the abuse, mostly because the others are faster.

Scut has to stop and wait for Grover to catch up all the time.
Back at school, Miss Shields has given Ralphie a C+ on his theme, so it is clear to him that she is no longer a viable option in his quest, as he is convinced his mother got to her first.

Later that night (possibly), the family goes out looking for a Christmas tree and, on the way home, their car gets a flat tire. When Ralphie's mother suggests he get out and help his father, Ralphie is thrilled! A chance to do Real Man things! Again, what could possibly go wrong?

SO MUCH CAN GO WRONG.

Especially if, while he is holding a hubcap with the lug nuts in it, his father accidentally knocks it out of his hands, sending the nuts flying, which in turn causes Ralphie to utter The Word. You know the one. The Old Man sends him back to the car, and when they get home, his mother makes him stand in the bathroom with a bar of soap in his mouth for a while, until he is ready to tell her where he heard that word. Not wanting to get the Old Man (his real source for colorful language) in trouble, Ralphie says he heard it from Schwartz. Mom calls Schwartz's mother and tells her, and Schwartz gets beaten for something he did not do! Christmas!

Ralphie finally realizes that the only option available to him now is to go right to The Man himself and tell him about the air rifle of his dreams. What follows is a nightmarish, almost hallucinogenic sequence involving an angry Santa, screechy elves in funny hats, and moist children, all on top of a giant mountain inside the local department store.

The hell is wrong with you, kid?
Unfortunately, Ralphie freezes-up when he gets his chance and, although he manages to finally get it out in the open, even Santa shoots him down! Now what?!

Accepting that he is just not going to get what he wants in life, Ralphie lets his guard down, and he is cornered by Farkus and Dill. But now Ralphie has nothing left to lose, so he snaps, beating Farkus to a bloody pulp until his mother comes and pulls him off the bully.

And then...Christmas comes...

But will Ralphie suffer defeat at the hands of the Christmas gods and eventually grow up a cold, hardened drifter, making what little money he can by offering unspeakable acts at truck stops across the country? Will Flick ever stop getting beaten up at school? Will Randy ever eat?

You'll have to tune in to find out!

Now, before we get to the guys' thoughts on the film, we just wanted to say that we reached out to Zack Ward (he and Derek follow each other on Twitter) to let him know we were watching the movie and whether he had anything he wanted to say to the fans. Here's what he had to say:

What a nice guy.
So, big thanks to Zack for getting back to us. You rock. And be sure to check him out in recent episodes of American Horror Story and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Anyway...

Troy had never seen this movie before. Seriously. What the hell? But he really liked it. He was especially into the whole leg lamp thing. His one concern is for Grover Dill, whose small frame seems completely off, considering how wide he looked. He hopes Yano grew into his width.

Derek unabashedly loves this movie, and has for as long as he can remember. (About three-and-a-half hours, usually.) He is, however, somewhat worried about Ralphie's inability to maintain a constant tether to reality. That kid is going to need some serious therapy later in life.

So turn on your leg lamp (be careful...it's fra-GEE-lay), put on your pink bunny pajamas, and tune in to this week's episode!