By Sofia Garcia, Nov. 22, 2022
A surprisingly heartwarming sequel to the beloved “A Christmas Story” released in 1983, “A Christmas Story: Christmas” relied on similar story telling, and familiar faces to fill the need for a happy holiday film 39 years later.
“A Christmas Story: Christmas” released on Nov. 17, 2022, takes place in 1973 Indiana, and opens with a rather grim beginning. Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsly, is the main bespeckled character and narrator this time around as well, was met with news from his mother of his father’s passing, just a few days before Christmas. Heartbroken with the news, Parker, his wife Sandy and his children Mark and Julie, packed up from their Chicago apartment and traveled to the same two-story home in Indiana as the prequel.
The director did a great job playing into the audience’s nostalgia from the prequel. There were so many details and scenes that brought the viewer back to Christmas morning in the 1980s. Familiar faces also returned as Parker returned to his hometown, seeing “those damn dogs,” a pack of hounds that used to terrorize his father, and ate their Christmas turkey in 1940, terrorized Parker just the same. Parker saw his old friends, Flick and Schwartz, who were up to their same shenanigans this time around.
One of the best scenes in the movie involved Flick and Schwartz in a dare similar to the famous flag pole incident — where Schwartz’s tongue got stuck on the frozen pole during winter. Flick owns a bar in their hometown and Schwartz has run up a big tab so in the place of a bet, Flick offers to clear Schwartz’s whole tab if he goes down “the ramp.” Drawing a big crowd, just like in the frozen pole recess scene, Schwartz performs the dare and Flick reluctantly clears his tab. Another hit of nostalgia from the writers.
While the movie attempts to tug at viewers heart strings and bring back those nearly 40-year-old memories, the film definitely has its pitfalls.
The child-like whimsy from the prequel is completely gone. This is a story of Parker discovering himself as a writer, father and husband. However, with those attempts at nostalgia, come awkward situations where an adult is trying to do a kids job, which certainly doesn’t give the same feel. On top of the occasional cringeworthy moment, the camera work in particular was awful at times, making the production look cheesy.
Another negative, there was not of much Randy, Parker’s little brother, but being that it was actor Ian Petrella’s first time back on the big screen since 1983, it’s not too surprising that it was a short appearance at the very end of the movie.
The ending might be the best part of the movie and wrapped it up in the most “Merry Christmas” way possible.
Throughout the last half hour of the film Parker was trying to solve multiple problems — how will he fix Christmas for his kids after the presents were stolen from their truck? How will he finish his father’s obituary for the paper?
To fix the former, Parker tried to find a new star for their Christmas tree because “with no star there will be no presents,” as he said to his daughter Julie at the beginning of the movie. He grabbed the star from Flick’s bar but was greeted with a police officer’s flashlight leaving the building. It was his childhood bully, Scott Farkus, who put him in the back of the car. On the ride home they had a heartfelt conversation that squashed their beef, and Farkus brought him home. Most beautifully about this scene, the next morning the tree was filled with presents from who? The late father who had stashed gifts in the basement.
The final and most fulfilling gift of all came in the last minutes when Parker’s obituary was published in the newspaper, and the editors called the house asking for more stories from Parker. It completed his writer arc, and dream, leaving viewers with complete closure at the end of the movie.
Heading into this movie, expectations were low as most sequels fail to reach the bar of the first movie. While it lacked the childlike wonder of “A Christmas Story,” the writers did a great job of retaining the nostalgia of the first movie, while telling a different story of Parker getting his Christmas dream 33 years later. This movie is a must watch this holiday season for anyone looking for a fun, nostalgia laced film.
Feature image courtesy of Sharon Wu
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