A Christmas Story Christmas
MOVIE | This Christmas Story sequel offers plenty of nostalgia but isn’t destined to become a classic
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➤ Rated PG
➤ HBO Max
Thanks to marathon showings of A Christmas Story on TNT, Ralphie Parker’s quest to acquire a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle has become a holiday classic. In A Christmas Story Christmas, Peter Billingsley returns to the role he made famous almost 40 years ago in a sequel that explores what a grown-up Ralphie wants for Christmas.
The movie is set in the mid-’70s, more than 30 years after the original. Ralph Parker is a middle-aged man living in Chicago with his wife Sandy (Erinn Hayes) and their two young children. It’s been a lean year for the Parkers because Ralph quit work to write a novel. He’s given himself a year to become a successful author, and time and money are running out.
A few days before Christmas, Ralph gets a call letting him know his father has died, so the family heads back to Hohman, Ind., to spend the holiday with Ralph’s mother in his childhood home. Now that “the old man” is gone, Ralph feels it’s up to him to make Christmas special for everyone. But the grieving son is low on both ideas and resources.
Many of the cast members from the original movie reprise their roles for this sequel, though Julie Hagerty replaces Melinda Dillon as Ralph’s mom. Part of the fun comes from seeing Flick, Schwartz, and Farkus all grown up, and the script does a good job showing how the characters both change and stay the same as they mature.
A Christmas Story Christmas offers a nostalgic kick. The 1970s details—patterned wallpapers and unreliable vehicles—will strike a chord with older viewers, and keen-eyed fans of the 1983 movie will note callbacks to the original in almost every scene. And similar to the original, Ralph’s voiceover provides a running commentary on the episodic narrative. (The dialogue contains some crass language on par with the original, and characters consume plenty of alcohol.) In a meta-twist, by the end of A Christmas Story Christmas, this sequel starts to feel like a prequel.
Revisiting Hohman has a certain charm, but A Christmas Story Christmas isn’t destined to become a classic—no iconic line like, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” The original conveyed the magic of Christmas through the wide-eyed wonder of childhood. The sequel has its entertaining moments, but most hinge on understanding their relationship to the original.
This movie swings between silly and somber, with a few bittersweet scenes of surprising pathos exploring the nature of being both a son and a father. It’s a story about a parent who’s desperate to give his children a meaningful Christmas, but the true meaning of Christmas never comes up. Instead, Ralph merely finds comfort in remembering the past and using his memories to create new memories in the next generation.
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