Robert Graves | Thompson Station, TN USA | 12/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Released this fall, the "Christmas Story" collector's edition is really a 20th anniversary version of the classic. First, let me say I can't believe it's been out for 20 years. I thought 12, at the most 15. Wow.Briefly, for readers who may not be intimately acquainted with the film, I strongly encourage you to purchase "A Christmas Story" and make it a regular part of your holiday routine. It will grow on you with each viewing and you'll soon find its one-liners making their way into your everyday vernacular. Which version should you get? That's why you're reading this review.The original DVD release of "A Christmas Story" had no extra features. Nothing. No commentaries, no interviews, no documentaries. Just the movie. This was greatly disappointing, since I'm a big fan and was interested in the making of the film, what the actors are doing now, etc. So naturally I was looking forward to this special edition. Well, I can't say I'm too satisfied with the reissue.1. The documentary is very uninformative. The one positive aspect of it is the simple fun of seeing the actors all grown up. Ralphie is 30 now, but looks about the same. Flick has changed more in his appearance and his career choices. (Career choices? You'll have to look that up yourself. It's not on the DVD and I'm not about to ruin Christmas for you.) There just isn't that much to glean about the movie from the special features. If you would like to know what Ralphie wanted for Christmas when he was 10, or what the worst Christmas present Schwartz ever got was, then you'll likely be absorbed. I wasn't. What could've been an in-depth look at the making of this low-budget masterpiece, intermingled with musings from the actors turned into a Nickelodeon-style "what's your favorite color" type of Q&A session. What was particularly annoying was the graphics and sound effects that the editors added (e.g., if Ralphie says "my mom put her foot down," there's a big crashing sound with a monolithic stone foot superimposed over him. Just stupid). Bottom line, it's good for the serious fan who wants a peek at the grown up kids, but beyond that it's useless.2. The other "special features" are even more lame. There's a trivia challenge (yawn), a decoder game where you match the dialogue from the scene, a history of the daisy rider BB gun, and the original radio readings from Jean Shepherd (the narrator). You might do these once, but it's nothing worth buying the DVD for.3. The one bright spot is the commentary, and if there's a reason to buy the special edition, it's this. The director (Bob Clark) and Ralphie (Peter Billingsly) do provide some more insight into the making of the film, and if you're the type that enjoys commentaries, you'll find it's worth it.4. Lastly, I don't think the film was restored in any way. We're talking 20 years here. The film was pretty marked up and I was disappointed they didn't go to any effort to fix it in the 20th anniversary edition. For those of you that don't know (and don't worry, I'll spare you the 1000 word treatise on the mechanics of film that another reviewer felt the need to share), artists go into the original film and frame by frame they remove specks of dust and dirt, and in some cases they even add paint to touch up obvious artifacts. This apparently didn't occur in "A Christmas Story" and it badly needed it. This would've gone a long way to help the value of this DVD set.So what's the bottom line? If you intensely love this movie and have for years, then buy the DVD. It will be worth it. But if you're on the fence, maybe you've already got the first issue of the DVD, maybe you throw it in during the holidays, then save your money. And if you're just getting into the movie and don't yet own a copy, well, you should probably get the reissue since we're only talking about a few dollars in price difference.This review applies mostly to readers who already have the first release and are considering getting the new version. If the features I mentioned appeal to you, then go for it. Otherwise, you might be better off just sticking with the original release and using your 20 bucks to get the "Christmas Vacation" reissue, which actually is worth it."
Ultimate Collector's Edition mainly for collectors and those
Sanpete | in Utah | 07/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amazon has combined the reviews for the Blu-ray and standard DVD versions of this set, which aren't exactly the same in their features. This review is for the Blu-ray version. My review of the standard DVD version is here too, so be sure you're reading the one you're interested in.
The movie is excellent, a Christmas classic (see below). Should you upgrade to the new Ultimate edition if you already have the 2006 Blu-ray edition? That depends on how much you like memorabilia. The new edition is a repackaging of the 2006 edition, with a couple new non-DVD extras:
-- a collectible retro Christmas cookie tin (the container for the set) -- a strand of leg-lamp Christmas lights (Blu-ray exclusive)
Those look like fun, if you're into that kind of stuff. Amazon has a photo of the tin and a second photo that shows the tin and the leg-lamp lights. (The announcement for this set said that the items from the standard DVD set (here) would be included in this one, but that isn't correct.)
The Blu-ray DVD won't be remastered from the previous one. The video quality of the 2006 release was only fair for hi-def, soft with fairly good color, with fair mono sound.
The 2006 Blu-ray didn't include everything that was on the HD or the 2-disc SD set. Here's what's actually included:
-- audio commentary by director/co-writer Bob Clark and star Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) -- Another Christmas Story featurette, includes interviews with Clark and a few members of the cast -- Get a Leg Up featurette, about the making and ongoing sale of the (in)famous leg lamp -- A History of the Daisy Red Ryder featurette, on the object of great desire's actual history -- original theatrical trailer
The features from earlier editions that aren't included are trivia and decoder games, readings (audio only) from Jean Shepherd, and an ad for the real leg lamp.
Now, about the really good stuff, the movie. A Christmas Story is that odd film that appeals to a cross-section of viewers who often can't agree on what to watch. Fans of sweet Christmas cheer are happily joined by people with a more jaundiced eye to the holiday. To be sure, the movie leans more to the sweet than the sour, but it has enough edge and good-natured twistedness to please some of our darker Christmas angels too. It conveys a genuinely warm nostalgia and some sharp, sometimes pretense-deflating observations about human nature.
The story is set at some indefinite time around 1940 in an Indiana town approaching the holidays. Young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants only one thing for Christmas, the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock. (That is, a BB gun, a very particular one.) He plans carefully well in advance how to lay the groundwork for this while avoiding the dreaded rebuff, but almost everyone says it anyway: "You'll put your eye out!" The relentless struggle for the one true gift develops alongside several other small stories and amusing details, a tongue-on-frozen-pole triple-dog dare, facing the local bully, the notorious leg lamp, the Santa slide, Peking Duck for Christmas, and several others, each memorable in itself.
The actors aren't very well known, but they're all just right. There is narration throughout, representing an older Ralphie, done by the originator of the story, Jean Shepard, also just right.
This movie, made in 1983, has gradually become a favorite Christmas classic, now shown in an annual 24-hour Christmas marathon on cable, which attracts a huge number of viewers. If you've never seen it, give it a try, even if you have a little Scrooge in you, and you'll probably enjoy it."
Hurrah for movie, Shame on DVD
Robert Graves | 09/02/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This is a must-see, completely charming, wonderfully acted (and I usually don't like child actors), heart-warming without being too mushy, Holiday Season story. But they made the DVD in Pan&Scan (except the opening credits, which are in widescreen). SHAME ON THE DVD PRODUCER! The whole idea of DVDs was that there's ample space for both widescreen and pan&scan versions. P&S (now called "Full Screen Format" -- to make you think it's a good thing) makes movies look like made-for-tv shows, with no vistas and too many closeups. How about an un-modified version of this terrific movie?"
Exactly the same as the 2003 release
E. Schmidt | 11/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Revised 12/09: The 2003 "Anniversay" edition of the DVD is now out of print, making this the only deluxe version of the movie available at the current time. A year ago, there were two identical Christmas Story DVD sets on the market at the same time, and this was the more expensive of the two. Seeing as how this is no longer and issue, I'm upping the score for this item from three stars to five.
Original review: Don't get me wrong - I love "A Christmas Story," and I would give the film a 5-star review. The issue here is that the 2008 DVD release is EXACTLY the same as the 2003 version (aside from some slightly different artwork on the slipcover and case). There are no new special features, and the print quality is the same as before. There is absolutely no need for the studio to release this needless double dip DVD. If you don't already own the 2003 version, then this is a must have DVD; if you do, there's no need to buy the new version, unless you go for the Ultimate Collector's Edition, which has some neat extras (which admittedly aren't worth the price if you already own the film on DVD). Check out the Blue-ray version if you're looking for slightly improved picture quality."
This modern Christmas classic deserves better treatment
Daniel S. Russell | Blacksburg, VA United States | 12/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As many other reviewers have queried: Why isn't this movie in widescreen format? And couldn't the producers come up with any extra features? The DVD itself gets 3 stars, but the movie deserves 5.These gripes notwithstanding, this movie is a modern-day Christmas classic. It captures the joy and fear and exhilaration and disillusionment of what it was like growing up in an America of a by-gone era. The late Jean Shepherd is from my parents' generation, but I can still relate completely to Ralphie, Randy and all their friends -- bullies at school -- Not getting what you really want for Christmas -- having your mouth washed out with soap and fantasizing about the day when they'd all be sorry... It's all there!Darren McGavin is great as the blustery but sentimental dad and Melinda Dillon as the mom who is wiser than her kids give her credit for. The movie is touching and hilarious at the same time. It's so hard being a kid sometimes!This is one of the few movies I can watch over and over again and still laugh."