Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Blu-ray Review: A Christmas Story - Missed Opportunities Abound in the New Ultimate Collector's Edition
Bob Clark's classic, A Christmas Story, is being rereleased in an Ultimate Collector's Edition on DVD and Blu-ray today, to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary. I've been greatly looking forward to this, since this film deserves a little reinvigorating, particularly in its Blu-ray version. Since this is a film that has been seen by just about everyone, I'm going to cover the technical aspects of this release. In 2003, Warner released a pretty extensive two-disc special edition for the 20th anniversary. So I was pretty disappointed to find that this is essentially a rerelease of that version with fancier packaging and collectible extras. In addition to the previously released DVD, the Ultimate Collector's Edition contains five collectible cookie cutters in iconic shapes from the film; a 48-page cookbook with recipes inspired by the film, photos, and quotes; and a chef's apron. This is all packaged in a retro holiday cookie tin. Why the focus on cooking is something I'm not too sure about. The Blu-ray is even more disappointing. While the press release indicates that the Blu-ray includes all of the DVD's extras on one disc, this is not true. It basically is the same 2006 Blu-ray with its special features ported over. Here's a list of the features that are included: Commentary by Peter Billingsley and Director/Co-Writer Bob Clark; 20th Anniversary Documentary "Another Christmas Story"; 2 Featurettes, "Daisy Red Ryder: A History," and "Get a Leg Up"; script pages for a scene that was cut; and the theatrical trailer. Gone are some of the other extras like a trivia game, and a Decoder match challenge. But what may be most missed are original readings by Jean Shepherd, the man responsible for the original story and narrator of the film. The Blu-ray is also packaged in a retro tin with a Leg Lamp holiday light strand. Some other missed opportunities? This film is badly in need of a restoration, especially since Blu-ray reveals the film's age somewhat. Though the film is meant to have a certain nostalgic, softer look, the original negative looks like it has seen some wear. Also glaring in its absence is any sort of a tribute to the film's director, the late Bob Clark (Porky's), who passed away with his son in a tragic car accident in April of last year. The bottom line is, unless you are huge fan of A Christmas Story, and must have the extras and/or packaging created for these releases, I would strongly recommend waiting for a definitive version to be released further down the line. To Blu-ray collectors especially, this is not the release you want to buy. A Christmas Story: The Ultimate Collector's Edition is available on DVD and Blu-ray today. Still provided courtesy of Warner Home Entertainment.