If Top Gun Maverick has taught us anything, it’s that movie sequels made many years later can still be successful. We’re currently in the middle of a season where nearly everything that we ever held dear (in movies and TV that is) is either getting a remake, reboot or sequel and it can be difficult to know which is which. The problem with any sequel is finding a script as good as the original. This can be difficult for a recently released movie but even more difficult when Hollywood sits on a project too long. So, here’s hoping that the sequel to 1983’s A Christmas Story works out.
Now beloved, A Christmas Story wasn’t a huge success during its initial run. While the film began showing in theaters a week before Thanksgiving, it had already left most of the movie houses before Christmas. The popularity of the film comes from the numerous re-broadcastings of the film on TV, including the annual marathon showings on TBS. But everyone loves Ralphie Parker, the kid who almost shot his eye out with a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Many of us would like to know whatever happened to him. Next month, we’ll find out.
Based on Jean Shepherd’s book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, A Christmas Story has a unique tone that is a bit different from other films. It was narrated by the book’s author, had a small budget to work with and featured a fairly unknown cast. The end result is something that doesn’t “feel” like a Hollywood movie as the family wasn’t rich or perfect. They were real. Trying to recapture that tone will be a difficult task. There have been two misfires so that featured two completely different casts: 1994’s It Runs in the Family (aka My Summer Story) and 2012’s direct-to-video A Christmas Story 2.
According to Peter Billingsley, who reprises his role as Ralphie in A Christmas Story Christmas, the new film had been development for four years before a script was settled on. While unfortunately Darren McGavin (Ralphie’s dad) has passed away and Melinda Dillon (Ralphie’s mom) has retired from acting, the sequel brings back some of the film’s original stars including Ian Petrella (Ralphie’s brother Randy), Zack Ward (the bully Scut Farkus), Scott Schwartz (Ralphie’s friend Flick) and R.D. Robb (Ralphie’s other pal Schwartz). Joining the cast is Julie Hagerty (filling in for Dillon), Erinn Hays (as Ralphie’s wife Sandy), River Drosche (son Mark) and Julianna Layne (daughter Julie).
The plot of the sequel takes place in 1973 with Ralphie and his family returning to his childhood home on Cleveland Street to show his kids a “magical Christmas” like the one he fondly remembers. It will also be a time to reconnect with his old pals and reconciling the passing of his father.
“It very much is, in many ways, a love letter to the Old Man character and to Darren himself,” Billingsley Told Today yesterday. “Darren was the best. He was such a gifted actor and a great person and such a mentor to me in the shooting of the first film and was kind of like having (another) dad.”
Expect a lot of callbacks to the original film including a trip to Higbee’s department store to see Santa and his elves, who if you remember, weren’t a very jolly bunch. The movie will also feature recreations of the Parker’s home and the house next door which belonged to the Bumpus family who owned the turkey-stealing dogs. Other than that, there isn’t a lot of info given out about the new film. We’ll just have to be surprised when A Christmas Story Christmas debuts on HBO Max on November 17, 2022. Let’s hope that it’s a hit and not another set of disappointing pink bunny pajamas.
(Main image: Warner Bros.)
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