Tagline: Peace, Love and Misunderstandings
Summary Capsule: The legend of Ralphie continues, as he seeks out love and automobiles during a season of miracles
Justin’s Rating: Lampshade effects
Justin’s Review: When the word came out that A Christmas Story 2 was going to be an actual thing, everyone I knew experienced a completely new reflex that combined gagging and gasping. Basically, you threw up a little and then inhaled it. It wasn’t pretty. But there was a mutual bonding over it, because this seemed like the sort of sequel everyone could join together and universally condemn. I mean, A Christmas Story is about as sacrosanct as a Christmas movie gets, incredibly beloved after having gone from cult classic to family classic. I know that it sees heavy rotation in my household during the holidays, with the thought that they just don’t make good Christmas flicks like this any more.
But a sequel? That’s an obvious cash grab, of course. A cheap way to exploit fond memories. Like many good Christmas flicks, A Christmas Story really only should have ever had one. Period.
Yet I couldn’t leave it alone — I mean, how could I? If someone was audacious enough to make it, knowing that there would be a worldwide epidemic of puke inhalation, then I as a bizarre sequel lover would just have to man up and see it.
So here’s the kicker: It’s not that bad at all. Actually kind of good in a weird way. “Harmless fun” if the movie’s producers need a quote from me for the poster. It’s everything that Christmas Vacation 2 wasn’t: Respectful of the original while building off of it to make something slightly new and interesting. Did it need to be done? Not at all. But I’m certainly not upset it exists.
The idea here is that it’s a few years after the events of the first film, and now Ralphie is a teenager who’s a bit car- and girl-crazy. Obviously, this being almost three decades after A Christmas Story was filmed, they had to bring in a whole new cast to step into the roles of the previous cast. That’s kind of weird, especially teenage Ralphie with his hair helmet and a terribly old Daniel Stern playing the dad. Stern? Huh. While it’s slightly weird to see these actors try to ape the old cast, it’s similar enough that you can kind of buy into it, like watching a Broadway musical of a film.
Like the first movie, A Christmas Story 2 is a series of loose events with a couple weak narratives running through them all. Ralphie really wants a cool car, but accidentally damages it and has to raise funds to pay the dealership back. This means getting a job, and that means we’re in for several largely unfunny scenes of him and his friends learning different jobs at a department store. Cue slightly heartwarming ending in which everything ties up neatly, and you have a very breezy hour-and-a-half of movie.
Is it funny, I can hear you asking? Eh. It’s way too reliant on slapstick for my tastes, and the actor doing Ralphie is too prone to manic overacting. That strikes me as very different than Ralphie’s meek geek personality from the first film, although people grow up and not always for the better. However, there are a few genuinely amusing moments, such as a trip to the dentist and an ice fishing expedition.
Two small details really worked in the movie’s favor. The first is that it’s spot-on with its period look, and doesn’t skimp at all. There are tons of locations, cars, outfits, toys, and other stuff that really work together to create a believable trip back to the past. The second detail is the narrator, who sounds so much like Jean Shepherd’s voice from the original. There was obviously effort put into this movie, is what I’m saying, and that’s not often seen with straight-to-DVD sequels.
So if you’re looking for a movie to mock, I suppose there’s enough here — especially if it offends you that it was even made. But I can’t really work myself up to kick it, because it feels like an earnest puppy trying to gain your approval after you’ve lost your old best friend.
And call me weird, but now that the sequel barrier is cracked, I kind of wouldn’t mind seeing Ralphie as an adult during Christmas in the 60s.
- Daniel Stern plays Ralphie’s Old Man. He was the narrator on The Wonder Years, which itself was inspired by the original A Christmas Story.
[Randy and his dad are fishing in the middle of a blizzard]
Narrator: And this is why Randy still lives in Fort Lauderdale.
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