Nearly four decades later, the original Ralphie Parker is back in this legacy sequel to the 1983 Christmas classic!
It’s 1973 and Ralphie Parker, who at the age of 11, got his dream Christmas gift in a Red Ryder BB gun, lives in Chicago with wife Sandy and kids Mark and Julie. Ralphie is an aspiring novelist whose latest piece, a 2000-page sci-fi epic, has been rejected by nearly every publisher in the city. Ralphie has decided if he doesn’t get an offer by the end of the year, he would give up his writing. However, on December 19, he receives some shocking news. His father, the Old Man, has died.
Returning with his family to his hometown of Hohman, Ralphie sees his mother, who asks him to make a Christmas that his father would be proud of. Ralphie agrees, not realizing what he has just done. He reunites with friend Flick and Schwartz. The Old Man has gotten a reputation in town, and it is up to Ralphie to keep that tradition alive. However, the pressure becomes daunting on Ralphie and much like his Old Man when he was a kid, things are sure to happen that he wouldn’t expect.
Who would have ever expected Peter Billingsley to return years later in perhaps his most iconic role? Let’s face it. With the legacy sequels now becoming a major trend in cinema today, it was inevitable. There have been hits in Top Gun: Maverick and Halloween 2018 and some misses like Halloween Ends and some mixed like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Where does this fall? Well, if you ignore 2012’s A Christmas Story 2 and even It Runs in the Family or others, then it’s safe to say that this film will bring some sense of nostalgia.
Billingsley came up with the story, along with Nick Schenk (who co-wrote the script with Christmas Chronicles helmer Clay Kaytis, who also helmed this film), and there are shades and nods to the original. While Melinda Dillon is not in the film as Mrs. Parker this time around, a suitable replacement comes in the form of Airplane’s Julie Hagerty, who we see dealing with her loss by two things: drinking and avoiding carolers, calling them “ticks” at one point. However, Billingsley is not the only one returning for this new film.
Scott Schwartz and R.D. Robb return as Flick and Schwartz and there may not be another tongue stuck to a flagpole, but there is another “triple dog dare” destined to happen. Then there’s Randy, played by a returning Ian Petrella, who comes in as more of an extended cameo as is Zack Ward as childhood bully Scut Farkas. There’s even a brief glimpse of Yano Anaya’s return as Scut’s toadie Grover Dill in a dream-like sequence. While Darren McGavin passed away in 2006, one thing’s for sure. His spirit is alive and well in this film.
A Christmas Story Christmas will definitely please fans of the original, thanks to the return of Peter Billingsley and some of the young cast from the original. Nods and homage to the original will definitely ensure this to be a fun holiday film for the ages, just not quite like the original.
WFG RATING: A-
Warner Bros. Pictures present a Wild West Studios production. Director: Clay Kaytis. Producers: Peter Billingsley, Vince Vaughn, Irwin Zwilling, Marc Toberoff, Jay Ashenfeiter, and Cale Boyter. Writers: Nick Schenk and Clay Kaytis; story by Schenk and Peter Billingsley; based on characters created by Jean Shepherd. Cinematography: Matthew Clark. Editing: David Heinz.
Cast: Peter Billingsley, Erinn Hayes, River Drosche, Julianna Layne, Julie Hagerty, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Ian Petrella, Zack Ward, Ian Porter, David Murphy, Benjamin Noble, Henry Miller, Yano Anaya.