Tag Archives: a christmas story

Movie Review – A Christmas Story Christmas (2022)

A Christmas Story…Story? No way. Come on, Hollywood. You’ll shoot your collective eye out.

BQB here with a review.

Actually, it’s not so bad.

If you own a TV, then surely you have seen 1983’s A Christmas Story. TBS runs it 24 hours a day on Christmas and I can still recall laughing up a storm the first time I saw it. Even years later, having seen it a zillion times, it’s hard not to leave it on in the background while you go about your holiday merriment.

Alas, the sequels didn’t come until much later, presumably because the film didn’t really become the much beloved classic until cable TV started blasting the crap out of it over the airwaves in the 1990s. By then I can only presume all involved had moved on and unable to make a sequel. Either that or is a single ever possible for such a great film?

Ah but once the film grew a big fanbase, the sequels were attempted. 1994’s My Summer Story is largely unknown. 2012’s straight to video A Christmas Story 2 was cute but ultimately forgettable.

Thus I was surprised a new sequel was attempted this year.. It stars original Ralphie Peter Billingsley, though when I first learned that I doubted if that was enough to save it. Turns out, the answer is a resounding, “Not bad.”

The plot? in the 1970s, Middle aged Ralphie lives in Chicago with wife Sandy (Erin Hayes) and kids Mark and Julie. Ralphie has taken a year off to write an epic sci-fi novel, which seems like something Ralphie would do, given his love of pop culture and all things nerdy as a kid in the original film.

Alas, the publishing houses have all told Ralphie to eat the proverbial big one and as the end of the year draws nigh, he knows he needs to either publish or perish, to make money on a writing career or give up and take a boring old job and get a steady paycheck.

At least he has a planned Christmas visit with his parents to look forward to, but sadly, his old man, “The Old Man” passes and a loving tribute to the late Darren McGavin, who passed in 2006, is paid.

Ah, but the older we get, the more adults tend to, well I was going to say they don’t fear death but they still do, it’s just, by the time you’ve hit the elderly stage, you’ve run out of tears to cry, for you have experience so much loss already. This, Ralphie’s mom (played by Airplane comedy legend and owner of the sweetest voice ever Julie Hagerty who takes on the role as Melinda Dillon has retired from acting) urges Ralphie, Sandy and the kids to buck up and have the best Christmas ever, for this is what the Old Man would have wanted.

Comedy hijinx are mixed with somber moments. There are plenty of Easter eggs and references to the original film, while this one tries its best not to so much repeat old gags but play homage to them, or at least repeat running themes. Adult Ralphie still has a wild imagination that gets him into trouble and riddles him with anxiety as he pictures the smallest hangup leading to horrifying consequences. Bullies go to war with Ralphie’s kids who must learn to stand up for themselves. Comical injuries abound. Ralphie still wants to be an old west sheriff because what Baby Boomer didn’t?

A cavalcade of ex-child actors from the original film, now all grown up and in the middle of life, stop by, and it is surreal. Not knocking anyone but as you see adult actors reprise roles like Flick (the kid whose tongue froze to the light pole) or Schwartz (was he the kid who double dog dared him? I forget) and the once evil bully Scott Farkus (can bad kids mend their ways in adulthood?) you can’t help but think time is really a bastard. All these kids were so cute once and Hollywood was happy to capitalize on their cuteness, but sadly none of them really grew up with the looks that Hollywood wants to see in leading men. Even so, as a fan I’m happy to see them, like walking around your home town and bumping into an old friend. Even Ralphie’s little bro, an all grown up Randy drops by.

Does it all add up to something? I don’t want to give it away but if you think about how adult Ralphie yearns to be a famous writer, and author Jean Carroll leant his iconic voice to the original film but did so in the role of adult Ralphie telling the story of one wacky Christmas in his youth…OK I’ll let you figure it ou.

STATUS: Shelfworthy. If you have HBO Max, it’s free and worth your time. It won’t win awards. It won’t be something you’ll want to watch again and again. What it is is a loving tribute, a rare sequel that straddles the line between capitalizing on your love of the old flick but still remaining true to its spirit. There are sad moments, funny moments, emotional moments. If you’ve ever lost a parent, you know the pain adult Ralphie experience, the expectation of an adult to keep moving on even though a person who comprised a large part of their world has shuffled off the mortal coil. Everyone involved did well here.

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Top Ten Observations After Watching A Christmas Story (1983)

Hey 3.5 readers.

I’ve seen this movie a million times since childhood and happened to watch it again recently.  It’s funny how the older your get, the more things you notice.

Thus, without further ado, and I have to do this quick before the Yeti finds out, it’s my Top Ten Observations About A Christmas Story (1983).

#10 – Life is Hard

Yeah, obvious, but still, I notice this more as an adult than I did as a kid.  As a kid I just thought Ralphie’s father was an old grumpy bastard.  Now I know why he’s old and grumpy.  You work all day and then come home to a house where shit breaks every five minutes and you have to spend all your free time fixing it because if you can’t then you have to shell out some of that money you worked so hard for.  No wonder the old man swears so much.  Consarn it rabbin blast it!

#9 – Baby Boomers Love Cowboys

Cowboys to baby boomers are what Transformers/GI Joe were to Generation X and Avengers and Spongebob Squarepants and Complaining About Literally Everything were/are to Millennials. Ralphie was a little baby boomer kid.  He grew up watching cowboy movies.  He wants to get a Red Ryder BB gun so he can pretend to be a cowboy.  Shooting his eye out is not a concern, though it really should be.  Which brings us to…

#8 – Parents Coddle More

May be a good thing in some instances and not so good in other cases.  Honestly, I have no idea a parent could give a BB gun to a kid and not suddenly worry about, well yes, not just the kid shooting his eye out but also the ensuing hospital bills and having to take care of the kid when he is an adult because his employment prospects will be limited due to his one eye.  Also – lawsuits and shit in the event Ralphie shoots some other kid in the eye.  Back in the old days, Ralphie’s father could have just settled up with another injured kid’s father with either fisticuffs or cash on the barrel head but now the lawyers ruin everything.  Thanks lawyers.

#7 – Poor Flick

Flick gets his tongue stuck to the flag pole.  (Never lick a flag pole, especially during the winter, but seriously, there’s no reason for you to lick a flag pole at any time of the year, weirdo).

As soon as the firemen and cops get Flick unstuck, he immediately returns to class with a bandaged up tongue.

Today, the kid would be out of school at least a month in order to go on all the TV shows that would want to interview him on account of his story as the flag pole licker going viral on social media.  Surely a Kickstarter would be started to pay for his tongue repair bills.

He’d be branded for life as the flag pole licker but at least he’d get to host SNL or throw out the first pitch at a baseball game or something.

#6 – Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring

Do orphans even exist now?  Annie would be like “Little Foster Child Annie” or something.  But yes, I sympathize with Ralphie when he drinks a shit ton of Ovaltine just to win a decoder ring that allows him to decode a message that urges him to “drink more Ovaltine.”

In short, Madison Avenue has been hoodwinking kids with advertising gimmicks for years.

Also, Ovaltine isn’t bad.  You can still find it in stores.  It’s just chocolate milk mix with vitamins in it and shit.  Delicious.

#5 – Kids Choke Up When They See Santa

You see it in the Santa scene but it happens in real life too.  The kid waits and waits and waits in line to see Santa and then when he gets up there on Santa’s lap, he starts crying then chokes worse than the Cleveland Indians.

What?  Too soon?  My bad.

Kudos to Ralphie for at least having the guts to climb back up the slide and demand his Red Ryder.

#4 – Having a Sibling is a Pain in the Ass

In some ways, having a sibling is a good thing.  Your sibling is your introduction to the concept that the world doesn’t revolve around you and that someone will always be there to criticize you and complain about you and take shit from you no matter what you do.

Don’t like that your brother stole your toy, ate the last cookie, or changed the TV channel? Good luck when you grow up and your boss wants to downsize your department, your company wants to lay you off and your wife wants to see other people but still wants to keep seeing your bank account.

#3 – Bullies Are Also a Pain in the Ass

Scott Farkus is a dick.  And while he probably deserved a slap, he is just a kid himself and didn’t really deserve an epic beat down.  Ralphie lost his cool.  When he gets his senses back, he realizes he should have just walked away and feels bad.  Hooray.  Ralphie learns from his mistakes and won’t grow up to become a serial killer now that he knows right from wrong.

#2 – Siblings Stick By You

Yes, they are pains in the ass.  Yes, Randy laughs at Ralphie’s failures.  But, when the chips are down, Randy hides in the cupboard and cries because he is certain his dear brother will meet his demise when his father hears about the big fight.  That’s love.

#1 – Things Aren’t Always Bad As They Seem

Ralphie cries all afternoon, certain his father will go off on him when he learns about the fight.  Luckily, Ralphie’s mother knows just how to handle Ralphie’s father.  She mentions it in passing as if it is no big deal and as part of a whole series of subjects, then quickly switches the subject to a story about a football game in the paper.  Thus, she’s told her husband so he can’t complain about not knowing about it later.  However, the old man is tired and his mind can only handle so many subjects, so he sees his wife doesn’t seem to be too worried and Ralphie is still alive so he doesn’t care and returns to his paper.

Adults have too much adult shit to worry about, kids.

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