I Didn’t Shoot My Eye Out: A Christmas Story Live Review
This past Sunday night, Fox decided to give the world a brand new live musical, in the spirit of Grease and Rocky Horror Picture Show Live. There is, however, one horrible flaw with this scenario, and most of the time these live adaptations somehow will anger a fanbase faster than Disney producing a film over the Skywalker family. And while the Live adaptations have not been terrible, they seem not to get any praise at all. For this Christmas, Fox chose to do a staple of the Christmas movie tradition, A Christmas Story.
A Christmas Story follows a child by the name of Ralphie and the dream of getting a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, but is always met with the phrase “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Now, I like many others put A Christmas Story at the top of my list of favorites. I will sit down to watch the movie each year without hesitation and enjoy the same as if it were my first time all over again. The idea of Fox making a live adaptation scared me and the fact it was musical made me even more hesitant.
I sat down and watched the Live version, but I did it with an open mind. The thing about the live adaptations is that they are not trying to be a rehashing of the movie, in fact, these shows have graced the stage for years. So, I feel comparing it to the film is not fair to the actors, the script, or even the movie.
First, let’s talk about what was great. The narrator. Matthew Broderick as adult Ralphie is something that will put a smile on your face. Broderick was the glue that held the show together. He was in almost every scene and was able to play into his younger versions daydreams. Also, would just be random characters throughout such as the leg lamp delivery man. He was able to add a soft touch to the show, and his singing at the end of the movie will warm the heart. Andy Walken was the child star with the daunting task of playing Ralphie, and he was able to pull it off. Again, remember not to compare this to the movie. Watch it with different eyes. The entire cast was a delight to see on the screen, Maya Rudolph who was Ralphie’s mom, Ana Gasteyer who played Schwartz, mom, and Chris Diamantopoulos who played the old man seemed to grasp their characters entirely. The major award song performed by Chris was the best musical number of the show. It was fun; it captured exactly what you would do if you happened to win a leg lamp. However, the show was stolen by Jane Krakowski who portrayed Miss Shields. I loved her performance. Each time she was on the screen, I was captivated. Cameos continued from Ken Jeong, David Alan Grier, and Fred Armisen which brought a great balance to the cast. The children costume changes were quick and seamless which is almost a blessing. And the fact they were able to make characters more diverse made the live version feel different.
Now, the bad. The opening number with Bebe Rexha was terrible. I am not sure if this falls on her, or the sound guys for the show, but it sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown was singing. And that did seem to be a small theme throughout the night; sound would happen to cut in and out from the live performances. It can remove a person entirely from enjoying a musical. I am not sure why but there was no Ovaltine scene. That just seemed off, and a tad out of place. I will say this about the live musicals on television, if there is one gripe about it all, they seem to go on forever. A Christmas Story Live in its original broadcast was 3 hours long. That is just too much for television. The ads hurt these types of shows. It should be treated more like theater, with a 10-minute intermission with ads playing for that full time. The fillers were perfect, learning more about the case and the crew, learning how long it took to make production was excellent, but those lose their luster with a 10-minute ad break regularly. I loved a few of the songs, but this is a weird gripe to add to this, there may have been some songs that were just in the script because they needed a song. There were some songs just out of place.
If you are a theater kid, chances are you will enjoy this adaptation. And I did enjoy it for what it was, a musical theater production with an all-star cast. If you went into this comparing it to the movie, you are going to flat out hate it with a passion. A Christmas Story Live is a nice way to spend an evening with the family during the holidays. Will it become part of your Christmas traditions like the movie did? Probably not. But it is a fun watch, and much easier to do while streaming it on Hulu. I give A Christmas Story Live a solid C++++++