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A Christmas Story Christmas

A Christmas Story Christmas
This recent trend of making sequels to 30 year old movies (Bill and Ted Face the Music, Top Gun Maverick, Confess Fletch) has produced some pretty lackluster results thus far so my trepidation regarding a sequel to the 1983 classic A Christmas Story was understandable, but 2022's A Christmas Story Christmas pretty much knocked it out of the park, a deliciously witty sequel to a classic that provided its own entertainment instead of just rehashing the first movie.

A grown up Peter Billingsley slips comfortably back into the role of Ralphie Parker, the little boy who more than anything wanted a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Ralph is now living in Chicago with his wife, Sandy and his kids, Mark and Julie. Ralph is pursuing his passion of becoming a writer and has written a book that has been turned down by 15 of the 16 publishers he sent it to. As Christmas approaches, Ralph learns of the passing of his father (brilliantly played by the late Darren McGavin in the original film) and decides to bring his family back to the small town where he grew up to spend Christmas with his mom (Julie Hagerty, replacing Melinda Dillon who played mom in the original).

Upon his return home, Ralph begins to experience a Murphy's Law Christmas, where everything that can go wrong does. He has to find a real tree to replace the artificial tree he finds in the attic, nursing his family back to health when Sandy sprains her ankle, Mark breaks his arm, and he almost blinds Julie with a snowball, replacing a defective radiator on his car, struggling to write his father's obituary, and going into complete meltdown when all of the Christmas presents he bought for the family get stolen.

Director Clay Kaytis (The Angry Birds Movie) and screenwriters Jean Shepherd, Billingsley and Nick Schenk show nothing but pure love for the original movie and bring the original canvas beautifully to life but provide us with a fresh, multi-layered story that doesn't just rehash everything that happened in the original film, but evokes memories of the classic without overpowering the story presented here. Like the original film, the story is broken down into individual vignettes that don't all deal directly with Christmas, but do bring us back to Ralphie's childhood documented in 1983. We are delighted as Ralph is reunited with childhood buddies Flick and Schwartz, as well as a memorable reunion with his former bully Scott Farkas and Ralph's little brother Randy. We even are reunited with the next door neighbors', the Bumpases' angry pack of dogs, who antagonized Dad in the original movie. We do get brief flashbacks and reminders of the first movie but nothing is duplicated from the first movie. LOVED when Ralph was looking for the decorations in the attic and found the bunny suit he wore in the original.

This movie provided laugh out loud entertainment for most of the running time. Loved the narration, even if some of it reminded me of Chris Rock's narration on his sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. Particularly loved Julie's grilling of the department store Santa, Ralph's gift shopping adventure while Mom and his wife sipped martinis, the snowball fight where Julie almost loses her eye, Ralph's mission to replace the shattered Christmas star, and everything that happened at "the Ramp."

It was nice to see so many actors from the original movie reprise their roles. Billingsley is endlessly charming as the grown up Ralph and I'm glad they had the sense to kill off Dad, instead of trying to replace Darrin McGavin, who was perfection in the original. I was a little disappointed that Melinda Dillon didn't return as Mom, but Julie Hagerty was an absolute delight in the role. I also liked that the Mom character was softened a bit. It was nice seeing her drinking wine and cheating at scrabble. Scott Schwartz and JD Robb were terrific as Flick and Schwartz, and the way the incident at "the Ramp" collated with the tongue on the telephone pole incident was clever and I'm glad they didn't try to recreate that scene...been there done that. I had serious reservations about this project when I first heard about it, but my fears have been put to rest and I can safely say if you loved the first movie like I do, you'll like this one too.