A Christmas Story Christmas - Epiphany Review
Updated: Jan 6
With its mellow atmosphere, childlike imagination, excitement, glee, and childlike tribulations, A Christmas Story is one of my and my family’s all-time favorite movies. We can attribute its impact to the masterful writing and the impeccable narration by Jean Shepherd. I even read one of his books, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which the movie was based on. Regardless of which one I dive into, Shepherd’s stories and sense of humor transcended the depths of time and geographical boundaries to transport us into a humbler, simpler time as only he experienced it.
Surprisingly, speaking of re-experiencing places, we are treated by Peter Billingsley, AKA Ralphie Parker, to a long-belated follow-up that has Ralphie all grown up with a family and returning to his old home. The original Christmas Story is one of the best Christmas movies ever made, so a follow-up to a movie of this caliber is hard to beat. You can’t expect it to recapture the same magic as the first film. Can you?
Regardless, I was too curious about this movie to set it aside. So, I saw this with my family and girlfriend for the holidays, and… Wow.
Set this time in the 1970s, Ralphie Parker prepared to drive home in Indiana with his wife, Sandy, his son, Mark, and his daughter, Julia, anticipating their long-awaited reunion with Mrs. Parker and the Old Man. Unfortunately, however, Ralphie got a phone call from her, telling him that the Old Man had passed away. Ralphie was deeply saddened, as the Christmas Ralphie hoped to spend with his parents and his family all involved the Old Man to help them out. Now, it all got derailed, along with Ralphie’s optimism, with this very tragic news. So, what to do with the Old Man out of the picture?
Well, that wouldn’t have stopped Ralphie or his family from reuniting with Mrs. Parker, as arranging the perfect Christmas was still on Ralphie’s to-do list for the season. After all, what’s stopping him from giving it his all?
From then on, Ralphie tried reacquainting himself with all kinds of adventures and even misadventures in his old Indiana hometown. They ranged from visiting Flick’s Tavern to reunite with his best buddies from school, Flick and Schwartz, and finding the right tree to bring home to his old house for him and his family. When he wasn’t preoccupied with all the crazy shenanigans in town, Ralphie also became curious enough to explore the ins and outs of his old home, refreshing his memories on everything he experienced as a kid, along with some unexpected discoveries along the way. Among them was a group of carolers whose presence Mrs. Parker tried desperately hard not to be in, along with a couple of bullies who kept horsing around Ralph’s children with their snowmobile. But, no matter how crazy things got to be, Ralphie was still determined to treat his family and his mother to the best possible Christmas he could arrange for them, especially in his Old Man’s honor.
What could go wrong?
At first glance, you would be right to assume that this plot sounds too much like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Both involve the father doing everything in his power to make sure everything goes according to plan regarding his Christmas celebrations with his family. But A Christmas Story Christmas felt more distinct from that film and even the first Christmas Story by comparison, primarily because of the emotional baggage it had to carry. The emotional baggage was the death of the Old Man, coupled with the Parker family having to spend their first Christmas without him. So, the Christmas festivities that Ralphie originally planned to spend with his Old Man now became festivities that he planned to arrange in his honor instead.
Every time the movie had the characters reminiscing about the Old Man and their adventures together, especially Ralphie, it made the reminiscences feel as exciting as it was touching and heart-melting. You can tell that Ralphie wanted to do what he could to arrange the perfect Christmas for his family because that’s what his Old Man would’ve liked. And Ralphie felt that if things did not go his way, he would’ve betrayed his Old Man by not arranging them as he would’ve wanted him to.
It is doubly touching when you consider that the original actor who played the Old Man, Darren McGavin, passed away in 2006, and this movie felt like it followed up on that. So even though the Old Man’s death was more sudden in Ralphie Parker’s case, all the decisions and madcap adventures carried a more emotional angle even compared to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It worked for A Christmas Story Christmas just like it did for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Regardless, this movie still carried enough humor and whimsical scenarios to elevate this movie into a level of pure hilarity. Ralphie’s pursuits to do things right by his family and his mother always resulted in some pratfalls that carried some more humorous weight when you have the entire movie in a generally grounded sense of minimalism and point of view.
On top of that, this movie conveyed Ralphie Parker’s adventures in Indiana and with his family, with the same soft, glowing reflections of the winter scenery. It was enough to emulate the frosty sense of contentedness that can be experienced upon anyone’s return to their old home around this time of year.
And more impressively, there were times when it didn’t even feel like the 1970s. Instead, it felt like home sweet home, regardless of when it was visited. The only parts of the town that would designate its time setting are the people, the cars, and the more material aspects that signified the time in which this took place. The first film treated us to radio shows by Little Orphan Annie and characters from Wizard of Oz to indicate that it took place in the late 30s and early 40s. This time, however, there were plenty of things noticeable in the movie that signify that it took place in the 70s, starting with the models of cars. Even the avocado green wallpaper and Ralphie’s family’s belongings back home resembled typical 70s decor. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much else to report about the 1970s throughout the movie; that’s not what it’s about. The film was instead about Ralphie Parker, his return to his childhood home with his family, and his desperate attempts to do everything he could to bring his family and mother the Christmas they deserved as the Old Man would’ve wanted it.
A Christmas Story Christmas is a primarily original take on Ralphie Parker’s adventures in his old hometown. Yet, one of the things I liked about it is that it implemented scenarios taken from the original book on which the first movie was based, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” to complement them throughout the film. For example, one of the top moments that stuck out to me was when Ralphie visited Flick’s Tavern to meet up with his old school Flick, and once they got reacquainted, they sat down together and shared some stories. While, in the movie, it extended to a few of the customers as well, I remember that part very well from the original book when I first read it.
I love how the movie was willing to implement elements of the original film while squeezing in some unused components of the original book and some of Jean Shepherd’s writings to spice up this already festive follow-up.
Before I forget, how are the characters in this movie?
Since this is a sequel to A Christmas Story, there’s plenty to unpack with them, especially the old ones. But one of the chief reasons this movie worked may be the returning cast. Many of them reunited to continue the story of the first film while having the honor of working perfectly off of the new actors who joined the party. So, in a sense, this seemed almost like a reunion even for Christmas Story fans, and not just Ralphie.
Starting with Ralphie Parker, he grew up to be a very confident, wide-eyed, but still determined man. He got a noticeable break in writing stories but started questioning his life goals after he dealt with one rejection after another. You can tell there’s a certain level of desperation in him as he tried getting his writings out into the public while also trying to live up to his word in light of the unanticipated detractions that came in to throw a monkey wrench in his plans.
Other times, Ralphie showed that he still had a sense of cunning from when he was a kid, especially with the BB gun, while other times, his ways of getting around to things seemed slightly reminiscent of the Old Man. It was noticeable when he called up his younger brother, Randy, and invited him to join him and his mother over to spend Christmas together. And knowing Randy’s then-current shenanigans, Ralphie tricked him into joining him by weaving some sob stories about their mother being sick. There was also a scene in the movie where he and his family went to the local Christmas tree lot to find the perfect tree but was disappointed by all the other trees they found in the lot, which he thought looked too monotone for his taste. Because of this, he tried to make a bargain with the Christmas tree owner about coming home with the taller tree behind him, to which the owner agreed. Not that it did much good, anyway. When he put the tree up with his family back home, it was too tall to stand upright in the family room, as the tree left some scratches on the ceiling every time Ralphie tried to adjust it. Nevertheless, it showed that for all his sneaky motives and feeble dispositions, he still had his heart in the right place and would’ve done everything in his power to prove himself worthy as a writer and family man.
With Peter Billingsley, he still conveyed Ralphie Parker, with his keen sensibilities and astute mannerisms that we recognize so much of him from the first movie. And his ways of trying to weasel his way into other people’s defenses by having them do things as he would’ve wanted felt reminiscent of what he did to his elders in the hopes of trying to talk them into giving him the BB gun as a Christmas gift. However, now that Ralphie was a father and a struggling writer, he added plenty of new variations and additions to his personality that portrayed Ralphie as the same Ralphie we knew, except with more experience, savviness, and determination to do something right this time around. This time, he wasn’t trying to do what he did for selfish reasons but for selfless reasons. And this is apparent in his voice whenever he got agitated or tried to reassure his family calmly. Regardless, you could tell that this Ralphie Parker was trying to rediscover what he felt like he had lost ever since childhood to express the Christmas spirit he missed all over again.
And while my mind is still fresh on him, we should also take a minute to assess the narrations throughout the movie. Peter Billingsley also provided them, but I was a little skeptical about their placement in the film when I first heard them. After all, his narrations, while still generally funny, sounded just a touch more frantic and animated than they were in the first film. And at first, I was confused as to why we would hear all these trains of thought from Ralphie’s head. Even the flashbacks that went on with Ralphie as he contemplated his current conditions or what he hoped for or dreaded would’ve felt too much like the inner child in Ralphie expressing the same imagination that Ralphie did as a kid.
But then, it hit me: when you look at Ralphie’s stages in life and put these side-by-side, the parallels and motivations behind them become clear and clever. In this movie, Ralphie Parker became a writer, albeit a struggling one. So, all the short, fast-paced, and generally articulate trains of thought, as only Ralphie would’ve expressed them, were described as such because we’re listening to how Ralphie conveyed his views as a writer. Sometimes, it’s over everyday situations, too, but his experience as a writer made his expositions easy to understand and follow. And the fantasies that Ralphie expressed? It turns out that I saw these fantasies as the kind that only writers like Ralphie would’ve expressed. Either way, this shows just how imaginative Ralphie was when he was a child or a writer. The deliveries were still brief, captured the same youthful energy they did in the first film — if not the same type of patience — and all felt in character. Better yet, they conveyed enough resemblances to Jean Shepard’s writings to keep me believing that Ralphie Parker is the fictionalized rendition of Jean Shepherd.
In the first film, Ralphie Parker relayed his childhood thoughts to us as if he was trying to reconnect with his inner child. But here, we hear him relay his thoughts as an adult to us as only a writer would before he started to reconnect with his inner child. It makes me admire Ralphie much more, especially as a writer.
Let’s hop onto the other actors and characters in the movie. Ralphie’s brother, Randy, did not have as much of a role in this movie as I hoped he would have, but what Randy did exhibit in the little time he had in the film was still funny in and of itself. The first time I saw him, Randy Parker was elsewhere, only it turns out he went from being in Indiana to being in India, feeling determined to go out on a global expedition. However, as we’ve seen, he enjoyed the more luxurious aspects of India a little too much. Ralphie suspected that of Randy, prompting him to pull off his old sob-story trick and deceive him into joining him and his family for Christmas rather than leaving him to waste himself away on leisurely pleasures. You can also tell that Ian Petrella had generally grown out of his more childish tendencies but still emphasized what little loose-cannon trends he may have exhibited in the first film. This time, it segued into his desire to be a global explorer. And the way he responded to his discoveries and launched into them demonstrated just how hungry for adventure he was to the point where he wanted to do as much as he could his way when not worrying about his family back in Indiana. Even when he reunited with his family, he was nice enough to let his relatives into his aura of international fame and discoveries, including, shockingly enough, a dagger that he gave as a Christmas gift to Mark.
Every time I think of Randy and his adventures in India, it always calls me back to when Mrs. Parker told Randy about the starving people in China. It makes me wonder if Randy was lucky enough to have had firsthand experience with the starving people in China and if it gave him a greater awareness of those in dire need of resources to stay alive. It’s anyone’s guess, I suppose, but the implications are still there.
Scott Schwartz made a comeback in this movie as Flick, who maintained his more sensible methods while also becoming a tavern keeper after inheriting it from his Old Man. Much like Ralphie in his adulthood, he has shown excessive responsibility because he maintains what his father upheld before him. However, a few funny moments came out of this scenario, too. For example, whenever the bar phone rang, Flick and all his customers looked at it with unease because they feared the caller was out for whoever may have been in the tavern with Flick. Usually, Flick would’ve said no one’s here, despite the designated customer being at his bar, anyway. The movie didn’t mention why this was a regular thing at Flick’s Tavern. Still, the allegations surrounding the suspiciously common practice invited some eerie yet humorous suspicions that would have pulled the tavern closer into comedic territory.
But that’s not the only problem Flick had to deal with. He also had to put up with his friend from school, Schwartz, played again by RD Robb, who kept piling onto his beer tab with every visit. Schwartz was still the energetic, wisecracking guy who always got off on the livelier aspects of life. Sometimes, it was for himself. Other times, it was for his friends’ benefit. And other times, it was to pressure them to do or demonstrate some things that would ultimately have proven Schwartz right. In this case, he always showed up at Flick’s Tavern and called up his tab. Their friendship had solidified over the years, though, don’t get me wrong. However, when it comes to Flick fulfilling his end of the bargain and clearing Schwartz of any tabs that he may have had, only then did they start engaging themselves in the kind of challenges they mastered best when they were kids. RD Robb still lounged about, expressing his usual carefree, if also impulsive, attitude and smart-guy elements. But, of course, there is a sense that he was a little more leisurely this time, always insisting that some drinks be on him whenever he was with his buddies. However, whatever went on in Schwartz’s life, there’s a sense that he became more of a butt of the joke. Whenever he insisted on calling tabs on Flick’s behalf, he did so out of the courtesy of his friends and inquisitively tried to get into Flick’s side to evoke a response from him. It felt like a far cry from the Schwartz in the first film, where he was very smart-alecky and always knew when to set an example with someone like Flick. This time, his more impulsive, if not callous, attitude sometimes got the best of him.
I will admit, watching Flick and Schwartz as adults felt exciting because they generally looked nothing like how they did when they were kids. But judging from their reputations, roles in society, and how they got along with each other on a general basis, they still carried the same committed quirks and wisecracking humor that I appreciate from them alone. And watching these two work off each other invited plenty of humorous re-acquaintances with their chemistry and some clever reversals of their combat methods and one-upmanship.
Finally, you have Mrs. Parker herself. She was still the same sensible, tender-hearted woman we saw in the first film. Also, like in the last movie, she exhibited some slight methods of sternness, depending on the circumstances that Ralphie or his family dealt with. Other times, however, she expressed more carefreeness to her than we would’ve anticipated. I think, though, that it’s probably her age slipping that into her. For example, she always cooked Ralphie and his family the same dish of casserole, which Ralphie’s family was visibly trying, and almost failing, to chow down. There were also moments when she showed stubbornness over the most confusing predicaments. For example, she tried to hide from a group of carolers who passed by her house and would potentially have sung to her, too, but she wanted no part in it. She told Ralphie and Sandy that the carolers were like flies. Once they were within someone’s social circle, they’d never leave. I found this aspect of her character peculiar because the last time I saw Mrs. Parker being around carolers, it was with the Chinese waiters by the end of the first film. Maybe carolers have become more desperate than ever in the early 70s.
However, not all of the returning cast returned in this movie. As I mentioned, Darren McGavin died in 2006, rendering his character dead in A Christmas Story’s timeline. Melinda Dillon did not return, either, but that’s only because she retired from acting a year after McGavin died.
Instead, in this movie, we have Julie Hagerty taking on the role of Mrs. Parker. But thankfully, she did an outstanding job here. Hagerty captured the sensibilities of Mrs. Parker while also expressing a slight commitment in her voice, depending on the situation. And she also conveyed her love of Ralphie, her grandchildren, and her daughter-in-law, topped off with the slight giddiness I mentioned. Still, Hagerty was able to maintain the same characteristics that Mrs. Parker portrayed, as well as the same attributes of Mrs. Parker that Melinda Dillon expressed. Because of this, she managed to hone her performance to stay within the consistency of Melinda Dillon’s acting methods towards a character like Mrs. Parker while still throwing in elements of her own take on the character with them.
And in one scene, she and Sandy played Scrabble together, and they were both bickering a bit about which words counted as legible.
That’s another thing this movie did almost as well as the first film: the more down-to-earth, humble, and thoroughly regular aspects of home life. It still oozed the low-key nature that lent the movie its sense of relatability and meekness. It even expressed it as such through some of the activities the characters did. And they range from the mundane, like playing Scrabble, as I pointed out, putting up with casserole every dinner, to even crazier adventures, like hanging out with your buddies at the local bar or going out on sledding expeditions or engaging in snowball fights. These little mannerisms and experiences helped the movie carry its more simple, elegant aspects of life as the first movie had.
I say this because my mother and I have a knack for playing Scrabble often, and I occasionally stop by the local bar for a quick drink on occasion. So what I’m starting to admire more about the movie’s more low-key sensibilities is how it captured the everyday life of an adult as much as the first film did for adults and children. Admittedly, the film did lean too much towards the adult angle, but I don’t mind because this is still told from Ralphie’s point of view. And if it was relayed or experienced from his point of view to a point where he managed to hook me into what Ralphie intended to do next, then it makes the whole experience feel even more welcomed.
This movie did make a habit of enacting some callbacks to the first film, but it’s only in quick and modest doses, and half of it was noticeable in the attic. So, for example, when Ralphie explored his family’s old belongings, we see the top of the leg lamp and, eventually, his old BB rifle.
There’s even a cute little moment during Ralphie’s meeting with the publisher at the beginning of the movie. Ralphie tried to sweet-talk him into publishing his book with something he pulled out, only for the publisher to pull out his drawer and reveal tons of belongings that he was bribed with by every author who approached him before. It wasn’t too different from Ms. Shields when she opened the drawer to reveal all the items she had confiscated from her students in the past.
But the most prominent element that resurfaced here from the first film was the famous triple dog dare, except this time, the tables have turned. After Flick had enough of Schwartz calling tabs on his beer every time he visited him, Flick decided to rank it up a notch by challenging Schwartz to slide down a giant, abandoned, frozen slide. As Ralphie pointed out, Flick never forgot when Schwartz triple-dog-dared him to stick his tongue onto a frozen flagpole. Now, it was Flick doing the triple-dog-daring on Schwartz. But the scale of which Schwartz had to accept the dare was quite tremendous. As the adult Ralphie put it:
If revenge is a dish best served cold, this was a frozen dinner.
In short, the movie did an excellent job of maintaining the more homely aspects of the first film while also throwing in some callbacks to the first film that were instead either short and sweet or played around with to enhance more inventive measures for this film.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but narratively speaking, Ralphie’s family were no slouches. They may have been a touch more standard compared to the rest of the characters in the movie, especially when you consider how this is the first time we’ve seen them. However, they were down-to-earth, likable, and surprisingly not without some comedic mishaps of their own.
Sandy Parker, played by Erinn Hayes, was shown as a tender and considerate woman who had her husband’s and children’s best interests at heart as they settled in Ralphie’s old home. But even then, she had shown some distinct characteristics that made her different from the rest of the family. For example, in one scene, Mrs. Parker was horrified at the incoming crowd of carolers who came to sing to her. But Sandy questioned it because she had experience with carolers before. Sandy also said she had some ice skating experience and was prepared to do so with her children, but she slipped on the front balcony and broke her ankle. Although, according to Ralphie, that may have been a general thing with Sandy. So, even though it was not delved into very much, what little moments like this did demonstrate of Sandy was enough to show us the more natural and equally hilarious aspects of her character.
Meanwhile, Erinn Heyes lent her character some of the motherly reassurances that Mrs. Parker gave to him, except when done onto her kids, you could trace a little more delicacy with her approach to parenting. And as Ralphie’s wife, she remained supportive while acting as Ralphie’s other half. So, while unsubstantial, the little moments she expressed from her were still enough to shroud her in an essence of companionship.
Ralphie’s two kids, Mark and Julie, generally acted very much as we would expect from kids around their age. The characters made smart-alecky remarks about their parents and were savvy enough to catch onto when they felt they were being lied to, even when they tried to reassure them that things were going smoothly for them. Now that I think about it, this was a nice tie-back to Ralphie’s original statement in the last film, which went:
Adults love to say things like that, but kids know better. We knew darn well it was always better not to get caught.
In their case, it’s about being fooled, not caught.
Not only that, but they engaged in their own ideas of escapades. In one instance, they both tried to make a snowman but kept getting bullied by a couple of neighbors, who kept plowing down the snowman and taunting them. However, thanks to Ralphie’s reassurance and his recounts of when he launched forward and beat Scut Farcus, this gave the kids the idea of how to respond to them. What I like about their retaliation is that unlike in Ralphie’s case, where he lunged out of pure primitive rage, the kids were trying to be a little stealthier in their payback against the bullies. In this case, they decided to have the boys run over what they thought was a snowman but was instead a tree stump in disguise. Some people may look at this and dismiss it as being taken right out of Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s trick book, but it’s still a bit fascinating to see how the kids would’ve responded to set things compared to how Ralphie did it when he was their age.
In another instance, Mark wanted to go out on his sled after watching Schwartz accept Flick’s dare and slide down the icy slide, but then, after going down on that sled, he ran into a car along the way and broke his arm. And in Julie’s case, there was a time when Ralphie’s car broke down because of a faulty radiator, and despite Ralphie trying to look for help, the kids lured him into a snowball fight. However, it didn’t last long when Ralphie stood too close in front of Julie as he prepared to launch a snowball. And in doing so, he threw it straight at Julie, who was only about 10 feet away from him. After that, he and his family took the daughter to a hospital, where she came out an hour or two later with an eyepatch. Can anyone say, “he shot her eye out”?
Seriously, though, these poor kids sure had it rough!
Julie was also humorous, as she kept talking on and on about wanting to get a radiator. And this is despite her having expressed no such knowledge or investment in cars. But it might have stemmed more from the radiator in Ralphie’s car always acting up on him. So, it made her request for a radiator for Christmas feel perfectly balanced in both the heart and the humor.
Plus, the actors, River Drosche and Julianna Layne, each excelled in making their characters express themselves in all their childlike tendencies while demonstrating a level of resoluteness when in slightly more uncertain situations.
For a band of new characters to join the Parker family, what the mother and kids established in terms of the natural, little moments and their comedic physicality got to a point where I could almost declare them as being on par with those of the original cast.
Before I forget, however, let’s get to the one actor whose performance and characterization shocked me the most in this movie: Zack Ward as Scut Farcus. To make a long story short, Ralphie told his daughter that there’s no Christmas without a star in his hometown in Indiana instead of the angel Julie wanted on the tree. So, when the original star broke, Ralphie promised her he would go out to find a new one, despite it being Christmas Eve and all the stores being closed for the night. So, what did Ralphie do? He snuck into Flick’s Tavern, stole its Christmas tree star, and was about to scurry home with it before a policeman caught him. Who was that policeman? Scut Farkus. That’s right, the neighborhood bully, one of Ralphie’s most prominent enemies when they were kids, turned out to have been working for the law now. So, while hunkering in the backseat of the police car behind Scut Farkus, Ralphie tried to make some small talk with Scut Farkus about all the years that passed and the fight they had together, usually with awkward results. In Ralphie’s mind, he was utterly nerve-wracked about what would happen next. His fears intensified when Scut Farkus passed by the police headquarters, where he usually would’ve gone anyway. And Ralphie internally wondered what this would’ve meant. The way he relayed his thoughts to us and reacted made it look as if Scut Farkus, after he finally ran into Ralphie, was going to enact some long-held score he meant to settle with him for what Ralphie did to him. And the next thing we knew… Ralphie found himself in front of his own home and that Scut Farkus was dropping him off. On top of that, Scut told him that after Ralphie ripped him a new one when they were kids, this experience helped him wake up a little and realize just how much of a jerk he was to Ralphie and all the other kids when they were young. So, Scut dropping Ralphie off, instead of turning him in for breaking and entering like he could’ve, was his way of returning the favor.
Wow. Sandy was right about what she said to Ralphie. This town would’ve been full of surprises.
Plus, in the little time he had in this movie, I appreciate what Zack Ward infused into Scut Farkus. In the last film, he played his character with surprising zest, elevating his otherwise generic bully character into someone as wily and theatrical as his mannerisms suggest. But with this movie, his acting, as only Ralphie saw it and as Scut turned out to be, was cleverly handled. For example, when Ralphie watched Scut Farkus from the backseat, he made Scut Farkus’ reactions, responses, and glances towards Ralphie look like he was still the same bully that Ralphie had beaten to a pulp when they were kids. But then, when Zack was throwing the more tender element of sincerity to Ralphie Parker as he dropped him off and thanked him for making him see the error of his ways, he threw another angle on this character that I would not have seen coming. So, he still did as many wonders to Scut Farkus in this movie as in the last film.
If there’s one major nitpick I have to point out about this movie, I wish that the new bullies that Ralphie’s kids had to deal with in the film were given more prominent focus and more of a personality to them. All I remember of these boys was that they went around wrecking other snowmen on the snowmobiles, and that’s it. Even Ralphie admitted in his narrations that advanced technology, like the snowmobile, caused even more significant troubles than what he dealt with by Scut Farkus and Grover Dill. This kind of comparison would’ve been exciting to watch since it would’ve opened new doors to see what kind of bullies would’ve messed around with Mark or Julie around Christmastime with this kind of gizmo. Although I must say, the way Mark and Julie retaliated against the bullies felt like a chip off the old block, even if it required stealth instead.
Frankly, one other thing that felt a little annoying was the music. That’s not to say it was terrible, though. It’s just that some parts of the movie borrowed Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer’s musical scores directly from the first film to enhance the mood. I think the least this movie’s composer, Jeff Morrow, could have done is give his all in his music while incorporating some music that would’ve resembled that of the composer of the first film. That would not have been too hard to ask. Heck, since both original composers are still alive as of this writing, maybe they could have helped out with the music for this movie.
Some people may find issues with Mrs. Parker usually not doing anything about Ralphie and his gift-giving to his children. Because as the twist at the end suggested, the Old Man knew his grandkids well enough to know what they wanted for Christmas, so he got all the gifts arranged for them in advance before he passed away. And judging from what Ralphie managed to get at Higbee’s while his children went off to see Santa Claus, he would get the same presents they asked for from the mall. How would this have gone if Ralphie and his family were not robbed in the first place? However, part of me thought that perhaps Mrs. Parker was willing not to give Ralphie the benefit of the doubt but rather wordlessly and subtly give Ralphie a chance to prove himself as everything Ralphie set out to be in light of the Old Man’s death. In a sense, I took it that she was doing for Ralphie what the Old Man did for him with the BB gun in the last film. She acted like she was not doing anything outside of being her usual self when instead, she looked out for Ralphie’s best interests without saying anything. What do you guys think?
Ah, well. As is, it was a marvelous surprise. These days, whenever you look at all the merchandise ever released of A Christmas Story, they cashed in on the movie but had varying levels of devotion to what A Christmas Story stood for. A Christmas Story Christmas, however, felt more like a breath of fresh air after all the apparent overcommercialization of the first Christmas Story we’ve seen everywhere. It’s no Yuletide Top Gun: Maverick, but I’m telling you, all the extra movies ever made of the Parker family? My Summer Story, Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss, and the cinematic landfill that is A Christmas Story 2? They have nothing on a movie like this. It did wonders by adhering to the DNA of the first film while throwing in enough twists and turns to help itself stand on its own two feet.
You could even look at this movie as a current culmination of what Peter Billingsley experienced throughout his filmmaking career. He got his big break after starring in the first Christmas Story, and through some ups and downs, he continually rose to be a prolific Hollywood producer, much like Ralphie Parker and potentially Jean Shepherd’s quests to make it big with their stories. What he delivered to us here was a movie that made me look at the original film through different lenses. It helped me experience another part of the first Christmas Story that I never would’ve seen coming, like it helped me evaluate it with another innermost layer that feels as fruitful as what came with the first film to begin with. I think that’s a sign of a great sequel. It not only expands on the original film but also is faithful enough to the story among its expansions to leave you curious as to how much the events and sensibilities of the first film affected those of the second film.
Happy Epiphany, everyone, and may this movie shine for the cinematic second-chapter homage that it is!