A Christmas Story Christmas
November 16th, 2022
MOVIE: A CHRISTMAS STORY CHRISTMAS
STARRING: PETER BILLINGSLEY, ERINN HAYES, JULIE HAGERTY, R.D. ROBB
DIRECTED BY: CLAY KAYTIS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The anticipation for a sequel to the 1983 holiday classic, A Christmas Story wasn’t being asked about on Twitter every day, in fact it wasn’t even a thing on the radar. In all honesty, I think the biggest person asking for a sequel was the original Ralphie played by Peter Billingsley and one wouldn’t blame him if that’s the truth. This marks the first “official” continuation, which does not recognize the 2012 direct-to-video mess that involved zero of the original cast- and with yours truly being surprised the most, A Christmas Story Christmas is actually a follow-up that audiences can get behind. It’s not heavy on conjured up nostalgia but instead willingly catching up with the characters from the original-some 20-years later and creating new memories for families to appreciate. A Christmas Story Christmas is a delightful family holiday gathering for fans old and new.
The setting is Chicago some-twenty years later, with Ralphie Parker all grown up, with his wife Sandy (Erinn Hayes), and two children. As we might have guessed from his letters in the previous film, Ralphie is now a writer, constantly hustling to get a publisher to make a deal for his big science fiction novel. Meanwhile, Christmas is soon approaching, with Sandy trying to hold down the fort to let Ralphie pursue his dream. Those aspirations are put on hold when Ralphie receives a phone call from his mom (Julie Hagerty filling in for the now retired Melinda Dillon), stating that his father has passed away, bringing him back to Hohman, Indiana to celebrate a life that meant so much to him, during the holiday that has been near and dear to his heart.
The initial announcement of a sequel to A Christmas Story in 2022 felt too late. No matter how much of a staple the film has become on TBS, how could anything follow? Audiences will quickly find that Peter Billingsley has the spirit and his heart in the right place. The screenplay, co-written by Nick Schenk, Billingsley, and director Clay Kaytis, is not interested in letting the story succeed off the nostalgia of the original, introducing a new side for Ralphie, and allowing him to be a grown-up with his own adult fears. It’s not void of the memories, with Ralphie in a position to bargain the price of a Christmas tree, or his kids faced with a new pair of bullies in town, or worries about the ever present Bumpus hound dogs next door. But those moments are minimal and at the center is a brand new story of a family at Christmas time. At the center of it A Christmas Story Christmas is the wholesome kind of holiday movie that will warm the heart.
It also helps that nearly the entire cast and crew from the original has returned. Outside of Darren McGavin- who passed away in 2006- and Dillon who as noted retired, we see everyone from Scott Schwartz as Flick, R. D. Robb as Schwartz, and Ian Petrella as young brother Randy. They all return with as much energy and appreciation for where their characters are at. We catch up with Flick running the local pub, which includes new ways to “triple dog dare” Schwartz, a modern update on the department store where Santa told Ralphie “he’d shoot his eye out”, and new stresses for Ralphie to make Christmas a magical time for his family. It’s relatable and without the the phoniness we’ve seen in late sequels such as Hocus Pocus 2 or Dumb and Dumber To.
The major focused plot becomes about Ralphie writing the big obituary for his dad, finding a way to scrounge up enough money to make it a memorable Christmas for his family, and still be there for his mom. The supporting performance from Erinn Hayes is perfectly sweet and an equal match for Ralphie’s fears as a parent. As far as performances go, it’s best to not expect something breathtaking, but the presence of Julie Hagerty allows for a gentle touch that is incredibly sweet. And it’s that sweetness that truly blossoms from A Christmas Movie Christmas. It starts with Billingsley, who has more than just an interest in making something to fill a void, or capitalize on his classic hit. A Christmas Movie Christmas is a Christmas movie miracle.
A CHRISTMAS MOVIE CHRISTMAS IS NOW STREAMING NOVEMBER 18TH, 2022 ON HBO MAX.
Written by: Leo Brady