Your enjoyment of A Christmas Story Christmas is going to depend on your fondness for the original. If it’s part of your holiday movie-watching rotation each year, the opportunity to check in on some old friends alone will probably carry the movie for you. If you’re not a fan of the original, odds are you’re not going to suddenly become one after watching this movie.
And if you’re someone who still has managed to avoid the original all these years – get thee to TBS and enjoy! It’s bound to start any time now.
Set thirty-three years after the original, A Christmas Story Christmas finds Ralph Parker returning to his hometown following the passing of his father. Ralph has spent the last year trying to write the great American novel and is down to the last two publishers for his two-thousand-page plus sci-fi epic (he’s got a sequel in the works as well). Returning home with his wife, son, and daughter, Ralph is tasked with stepping into his dad’s shoes to create the perfect Christmas for their family.
Over the course of just over ninety minutes, A Christmas Story Christmas revisits most of the beats of the original. Flick owns the local bar, where Schwartz is a regular with an unpaid bar tab, the Bumpus family lives next door and still has hounds and there are still bullies out there, only now they’re equipped with a snowmobile. There are callbacks to the original, including a one-upping of the “triple-dog dare” you scene, though not all of them are nearly as memorable on first viewing as the original.
The throughline of this one is Ralph’s desire to become a published writer – there’s even a fantasy sequence in which he wins a Nobel prize over other esteemed genre writers, that works pretty well. Just as the Red Rider BB Gun was Ralph’s driving force in the original, his belief in his sci-fi novel drives this one – even if said novel distracts him from working on the obituary of his dad.
Along the way, there are a few narrative threads I wish the movie had done more with, including a bit more texture to Ralph’s mom (who is the hero of the first movie in many ways). She gets to enjoy a few cocktails and offers wisdom to Ralph, but I kept expecting something more, especially given that her husband of so many years has just passed away.
In many ways, I’ve always considered Ralph a younger version of Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation – both have that kind of absolute belief in the power of Christmas and family during the season and neither shies away from making sure that power isn’t diminished no matter what the world throws at them. A Christmas Story Christmas underlines this feeling in all the right ways, even if it borrows a beat or two from Christmas Vacation, especially when it comes to a few jokes about the size of the tree.
As I said to start things off, your affection for this one will vary depending on how much you like the original. I happen to love the original and have watched it more times than I can count, so I was right in the wheelhouse for this one. It’s not likely to replace my yearly visit to Ralph and his family in the original, but it’s a sweet coda to the story and a nice way to see what happened to Ralph when he grew up.