Friday, March 7, 2008

A Christmas Story 2: Ralphie's Revenge

Despite the best efforts of TBS, I didn't actually watch the fra-jee-lay, "you'll shoot your eye out" classic last Christmas season.

I did, however, watch several other significant Christmas movies during the week I was back in Utah. Besides eating chocolate and playing Wizard with my family, watching TV was about all I did while I was home (big surprise).

I saw Miracle on 34th Street (the newer one) with my mom and sister. This is a remake that actually compares favorably to the original, although I wish they hadn't changed the sacks and sacks of letters ending. But the little girl is adorable, the Jurassic Park guy does a good job as Santa, and it's retroactively weird to see Horatio Sanz as a psych ward orderly talking about "Santy Claus." But mostly you just feel good after watching it.

I also made it a point to watch Elf, probably one of my top five favorite movies of this century (admittedly a smallish sample size; I don't see too many movies--I'm much more of a TV guy). It's hilarious, it's clean, it has the same feel-good quality as 34th Street, and my enjoyment of both movies I've mentioned has been enhanced by spending time in New York. Plus, I'm kinda in love with Zooey Deschanel (more so for her performance in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--another of my new millenium favorites--but she's good in both). I'll fight you for her, Will.

But the main event--the movie I have to watch at least once every Christmas until the tape wears out--is the one mentioned in my last post, the 1986 made-for-TV version of Babes in Toyland starring young Keanu Reeves, even younger Drew Barrymore, Eileen Brennan from Clue and Murder by Death, Richard Mulligan from Empty Nest as the evil Barnaby Barnacle, and, of course, Mr. Miyagi as the Toy Master.

The summer of 2004 was magical--I was working for Marie Osmond, playing cribbage with friends at Sonic or Denny's almost every night, driving a ghetto '93 Ford Tempo, and staying up late to watch live race walking at the Athens Olympics (I should've had a blog back then!). But what is now my fondest memory from that time is finding a preowned VHS copy of Babes at the MTC (not THAT one--the Movie Trading Company). By far the best $2 I've ever spent.

Watching it this year wasn't as good, because I watched most of it alone (my sister Ju fell asleep after just a few minutes). This is a movie that has to be watched and mocked with a group of friends. It is agonizingly awful, from the ridiculous costumes, to the cheesy special effects, to the terrible acting, to the creepy relationship between Georgy Porgy and Drew Barrymore's Lisa (11 years old), to the inexplicable fascination with Cincinnati and Pete Rose...and let's not forget the awesome car chase that ends with a crash that defies the laws of physics.

On top of all that, there's the singing! ("I--come--from--C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I Cincinnati. The best town in O-H-I-O Ohio USA!"). They all sing, even Miyagi. It's so awful, in a weirdly wonderful way (I'm so glad I found this link--by the way, did anyone actually watch that entire Star Wars link from my last post? It's aggravating, isn't it?). If any of you still have a VCR and want to borrow it, I'll see what I can do.

All three of these movies do a great job of displaying the positive effects of believing in Santa Claus, even into adulthood. When I was in high school I was on the Deseret News' "teen editorial board;" the only piece I ever had published there was a column on why, as an 17-year-old, I still believed in Santa. As I've gotten older, the world has made me slightly more jaded, and now I'm not sure what to believe. I hope Santa is real, but if he's not, at least I have plenty of other sources to turn to for Christmas cheer every December.


angelalois said...

omigosh Jeff that was the cheesiest most corniest trailer I have EVER seen. Was that Winnie from Wonder Years as Mary Contrary? Can you believe Drew Barrymore grew up to be a Charlie's Angel?

jeff said...

No, that wasn't Winnie. It was some girl who appeared in a bunch of horror films and dated Brad Pitt before he was uber-famous, but she never made it big. After seeing her performance with Keanu, I can't imagine why.