About Christmas TV History

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Christmas Story 2 (2012)

This sequel was released directly to video about a month ago.

Anyone else already see A Christmas Story 2?  Ever since news broke about its release, people have been moaning about what a travesty this film must be.  I don't believe in judging films before I see them--that makes no sense to me.  So now that I've seen it, let me share what I think about it.

A Christmas Story 2 takes place several years later.  Now Ralphie is almost 16 years old and still friends with Schwartz and Flick.

If you’re looking for this sequel to equal the original 1983 theatrical release film A Christmas Story, you will be disappointed.  But this direct-to-video release is not as bad as others predicted it to be.  This story picks up the familiar characters of the Parker family, several years later--Ralphie is now about to turn 16 years old and he’s looking forward to not only getting his driver’s license but the adolescent fantasy of catching the attention the most beautiful girl in school.

Ralphie really wants to have a car to impress the prettiest girl in school.

The story's main plot concerns itself with Ralphie setting out to earn the money to pay for a debt he’s accrued--he damaged a car on a car salesman’s lot and needs to pay for the repairs.  Ralphie enlists his trusted friends Schwartz and Flick to get jobs with him at the nearby Higbee’s department store during the weeks before Christmas to earn the money.

Loyal friends Schwartz, Ralph, and Flick takes jobs together at Higbee's department store to earn money for Ralph's debt.

However, the boys’ teenaged inadequacies and inexperience means they are moved from job to job within the store after repeated screw-ups.  In plot twist that reveals Ralphie's good nature, he earns just enough money but instead decides to use some of it to help a needy family he's met.

Mrs. Parker brings the Old Man a hot drink while he waits to catch his Christmas dinner.

Another major plotline surrounds Mr. Parker, Ralphie’s father, who is known for being a tightwad.  Unwilling to buy a turkey (at 40 cents a pound) for the family’s Christmas Eve meal, the Old Man sets out to catch his own seafood meal in the nearby frozen lake.  His stubborn, frugal efforts result in sitting for long hours in below freezing temperatures trying to convince the fish to take his bait.  The resolution of this plot line is anticipated by the problem-solving mother, Mrs. Parker. 

Does this film’s story repeat the same charm and eccentricities found in the original?  Certainly not.  However, the characters are solidly re-created by those with the same love and respect we all have for the original movie.  Is it possible to catch lightning in a bottle twice?  That’s not an easy task but I appreciate the effort of continuing these beloved characters.  This isn't even the first sequel to A Christmas Story--have you seen 1994's My Summer Story with Charles Grodin, Mary Steenburgen, and Kieran Culkin?

Aunt Clara is still sending handmade and embarrassing outfits each Christmas.

 Though most of the obstacles for Ralphie to overcome are predictable and not very overwhelming or insurmountable, I wouldn't have liked the story to stray too far from reality.  It shouldn't be an action film--all we want from a Christmas movie is a story with a little heart and warmth.  This story has it’s strengths too--it’s not the same story we see in most Christmas movies.  Even theatrical release Christmas films (the live action ones at least) are telling smaller, more domestic stories just like holiday TV movies have been doing for years.  Instead of a story aimed at a female, middle-aged audience looking for a holiday romance or a story about a family reunited after experiencing challenging circumstances, in A Christmas Story 2 we have a story about a less traveled road for a teenager trying to grow into a responsible man.  Even if this is a sequel, that’s not a typical Christmas movie storyline and I found that refreshing.  Jean Shepherd's short stories--from which the original A Christmas Story is derived--are human stories about growing up.  Though I don't know Shepherd's body of work well enough to know if A Christmas Story 2 is derived from it, but I do know that this movie is very much in keeping with Shepherd's tradition of storytelling.

At Higbee's, Flick tests the suction of the vacuum tubes.
If you love the first A Christmas Story, then you'll appreciate the many gags and references to that original story that fill this sequel.  The Old Man still loves his precious leg lamp, Flick once again, finds himself drawn to putting his mouth where it doesn't belong, the family still enjoys eating Chinese food at their local restaurant, the Old man is still battling the ancient furnace, Aunt Clara's annual Christmas outfit is still humiliating for a young boy, and this movie also includes a narrator whose voice sounds a lot like Shepherd's.

An older and much wiser Ralphie finally gets to tell the mean department store Santa Claus what he thinks of him.

One style choice made in this sequel was that it seems much more visually brighter than the 1983 film.  I kind of prefer a darker, less well lit image for a story that is trying to recapture the past.  In the original, the darker tones seem to match how viewers may "remember" the past with fuzzy highlights and shadowy memories.  In A Christmas Story 2, the image seems visually brighter--leaving more of a innocent, optimistic feel of the 1950s.  (The story takes place sometime after 1946--one can see the movie It's A Wonderful Life is scheduled on a movie marquee in background shots).  Despite the change, the visual effect seems to match the story.

This isn't my favorite Christmas movie of the season--but I've already seen much worse.  I expect to  see A Christmas Story 2 airing on television in the future.  It's a nice extension of the original characters we already know we love.

The cast includes Daniel Stern as the Old Man, Stacey Travis as the mother, and Braeden Lemasters as the teenage Ralphie.


  1. 'My Summer Story' was based on Sheppard source material and even had the same director (Bob Clark) and Sheppard narrating, but still came up short. There were some good made for TV adaptations of Sheppard stories (starring Matt Dillon, I believe), but even those weren't on a par with 'A Christmas Story'. I really do think this was a true case of movie magic that can't be recaptured. That said, I'd still give this sequel a shot on TV or Netflix instant, but I can't bring myself to actually spend real money to see it.

  2. I'd watch it, just to see, cause you are right, don't judge a book and all that. But it still seems like sacrilege. :)

  3. Is it me or does anyone else think the characters of Flick and Schwartz were confusedly switched in this?