While watching the musical version on Fox, I noticed the subtle political messages being interwoven into the presentation. We heard a brief radio interlude of a news bulletin of Republicans and Democrats not seeing eye to eye, subtle words from the mom about being worked like a horse, and then witnessing the father character doing some sort of can can dance with the leg lamp… I’m wondering to myself if the people that produced the musical originally have ever read or seen the original?
I also couldn’t help wondering to myself if this is a punishment for America electing Trump. It’s the worst thing to wonder when watching a holiday presentation, but that should tell you the quality of this presentation especially once that is trying to be politically correct.. when the original took place in the 1940s before being politically correct was the thing to do.
I know unfair to compare two works from the same source material, but human nature makes it impossible so I figure why not just go with human nature and do a compare and contrast of these two works of a great story!
1. One is a live musical presentation, the other is a feature film.
Both formats have their pluses and minuses. In a feature film, you don’t have the intimate feel of viewing a story which you have on a live stage presentation. On the other hand, in a feature film.. the actors aren’t over acting nor chewing scenery.. which in a live stage presentation.. I’m surprised that the set isn’t consumed before the end of the first act.
In the original film version, we have the actual author (Jean Shepherd) of the source material acting as the narrator and he has a soothing voice that makes you feel nostalgic even if you weren’t even born in the time period of the story. I think the fact that he’s the writer and is basing it on his child-hood is why he is so perfect as narrator.
Since Jean Shepherd has passed, it makes sense that the live production has found another narrator to take his place.. and in this particular version, that person is Matthew Broderick. No one will ever play that part like Jean Shepherd, but perhaps an unknown would have been better for the part and maybe not being shown would have been better since it looks like Matthew Broderick is the creepy uncle haunting the family from beyond the grave.
In the original film version, we watched the various schemes and fantasy segments of our lead character as he tries to hint about wanting a Red Ryder BB Gun, while trying to find numerous sources to tell this wish to.. while getting told ‘You’ll shoot your eye out’. Peter Billingsley had the right mixture of childhood excitement, melancholy, and relatability.
In the live version, he’s cute but doesn’t have the charisma of Peter Billingsley, plus the direction featuring Matthew Broderick on screen distracts from getting to know the child actor playing Ralphie. We are being deprived of Ralphie’s facial expressions in this live version because of the decision of showing the narrator on screen too much.
4. Ralphie’s Father and Mother
No contest.. Darren Mcgavin and Melinda Dillon are so identified in the parts that no other performer would ever compare to the greatness of both of those actors playing the part. Plus, the chemistry between Darren and Melinda is an element that makes the film version so good.. especially their silent war over the Leg lamp 🙂
While Maya Rudolph and Chris Diamantopoulos seem like talented performers, I don’t envy them stepping into the shoes of Darren and Melinda. Plus, the modern day touches in the banter between these two takes me out of a story taking place in the 1940s.
As I feel my life flashing before my eyes, I think sometimes a classic shouldn’t be messed with. While sometimes it works (see the many versions of A Christmas Carol), other times.. it is better to leave well enough alone and A Christmas Story is the perfect example of why.