Let’s welcome back James… who is focusing on one of his favorite holiday traditions with a Disney twist.
Every holiday for as long as I can remember, A Christmas Story has been a must-see film. The classic story is loved by many, loathed by few, and warms the hearts of almost all who buy into its tale and embrace the characters. It features an eclectic cast of misfits and miscreants who (for the most part) have good intentions, even if they may be misguided at times. In the end, the characters overcome their flaws and embrace each other, bringing the story to a happy conclusion. Does this sound familiar to you Disney fans? Perhaps like the outline of many classic Disney shorts and quite a few feature films? If you think about it, A Christmas Story has a lot in common with Disney features, and it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine how a Disney-fied retelling of this classic would not only be possible but also quite hilarious!
First off, let’s not forget the obvious Disney connections. A Christmas Story is narrated by and was written in part by Jean Shepherd, based on his own story. Jean is well-known among Disney fans as the voice of the narrator and father character in the classic Disney attraction, The Carousel of Progress.
The opening sequence of the film shows the main character, young Ralphie, peering in a well-decorated shop window on a decked-out main street that, at least to me, evokes immediate memories of Main Street, U.S.A. In Walt Disney World. Later in the film, Mickey Mouse himself makes an appearance during the parade sequence, where he engages in some crazy dancing with characters from The Wizard of Oz.
So what would the film look like if it were redone with the classic cartoon characters in place of the human actors? I personally think it would work really well for a number of reasons. For one, A Christmas Story features the same silly antics and zany adventures of the classic Walt-era cartoon shorts, such as Ralphie’s father fighting with the finicky oil burner or falling down the cellar stairs after tripping on roller skates; Ralphie’s friend Flick getting his tongue stuck to a frozen pole on a dare; and the Bumpus hounds invading Ralphie’s house and devouring the family’s Christmas turkey dinner. These scenes, and many others, would be right at home in the world of the classic Disney cartoons.
But what about the characters? The story and the scenes are only as good as the characters, and the actors in A Christmas Story really make the movie. So if it were remade with Disney characters, would it still hold up?
Yes, it would. Check it out.
Ralphie’s father, credited as The Old Man, would most certainly be Goofy. From one of the earliest scenes where he falls down the cellar stairs, to his fight with the furnace, to his misadventures with the Bumpus hounds, this role just screams out for the Goof.
Neighborhood bullies Scut Farkus and Grover Dill would definitely be Pete and Pete, Jr. (which makes even more sense because Scut, the leader, is tall and Grover, the sidekick, is rather short).
Ralphie’s oddball brother Randy, who is (let’s face it) a real simpleton but still good-natured, would probably be Pluto. He doesn’t have a real role other than sidekick and little brother, in addition to comic relief.
What about Ralphie, though? I had to deliberate about this a while. Initially I was going to suggest Donald Duck, because Ralphie has a whiny and irritated streak throughout the film. It especially came to me when he beat the ever-loving snot out of Scut Farkus. However, I finally decided that Ralphie would just have to be played by Mickey because he fits the Mouse better overall. Despite occasionally being a mischievous smartass who lusts after a BB gun so he can shoot make-believe masked intruders in the butt, Ralphie is a kind soul who is determined, goal-oriented, and fun-loving. In the end, he gets what the material things he wants but learns the true spirit of Christmas through life lessons and adversity.
Just like Mickey always seems to do throughout his film career.
It may not be a perfect match but it would be a lot of fun to see anyway. (Besides, if the Muppets can take over Treasure Island and A Christmas Carol, why can’t Mickey and gang take over a modern classic?) Next time you watch A Christmas Story either this holiday season (don’t forget, it plays for 24 hours straight on TBS on Christmas Eve) or next, try and imagine Disney characters in place of the actors. Not only will you give your brain a workout, you might even find yourself seeing A Christmas Story in a whole new light from now on – as long as the light isn’t a scantily stockinged leg lamp!