A Christmas Story 2 (2012) – A Review

A Christmas Story 2 2012 holiday sequel

A Christmas Story, that small 1983 film that would go onto become a beloved holiday classic, has finally been given an “official sequel” – A Christmas Story 2!

I don’t think many people are sighing with relief with that statement.

This is one of the fastest ‘learning about a movie, watching the trailer, watching the movie and writing a review’ I’ve ever done. I literally just learned about A Christmas Story 2‘s existence less than 24 hours from writing this.

At first I thought the trailer was some kind of parody, but I was shocked it was truly real. Honestly, it was one of the worst trailers I’ve seen for a film in a long time. Despite it looking like it was a masterpiece of terror and watching it a few times to wrap my head around it, I quickly checked out the film and here I am.

I really should have spent that span of 24 hours watching the yearly marathon of the original.

Let’s get this out of the way first. Director Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story is a terrific film. The adaptation of Jean Shepard’s stories hit all the perfect notes. It’s a timeless film and it’s little surprise that it has managed to work its way into the hearts of movie fans everywhere. The 24-hour annual TBS A Christmas Story-marathon has only helped make it a favorite of millions of people and it will continue to be discovered as long as folks keep watching movies.

A Christmas Story was not the only time the Parker family of Indiana got featured in a movie or TV production however. There was The Phantom of the Open Hearth (1976), The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters (1982), Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss (1988) and It Runs in the Family – which I always thought was the official A Christmas Story sequel. I saw it once ages ago, don’t remember a thing about it only that I didn’t like it.

A Christmas Story 2 cheap cash grab

 

Now we have a clear, direct followup to A Christmas Story. There’s no mistaking it. Even the poster is a direct reference to the original poster. A Christmas Story is unquestionably a popular title. It ranks up there with the most beloved Christmas movies – It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and all the good A Christmas Carol versions.

The studio must of felt they could parlay its name into making some extra cash this year and possibly every holiday season in the future. A Christmas Story double feature! Buy both – one and two! Sell the broadcast rights to some high four-digit cable station that barely anyone watches. I guess they weren’t making enough money licensing bobbleheads and mini-leg lamps (I have one of those!).

A Christmas Story 2

This is obviously a blatant cash grab. Or more like a holiday holdup with a Red Ryder BB gun.

Usually I’ll try to keep an open mind with any movie I’m watching. Even if I fear the worst, I try to clear my head and give it a chance to prove me wrong. That’s pretty tough with A Christmas Story 2.

Just the idea of a sequel pissed me off. I have to admit I took great satisfaction seeing the angry comments and the overwhelming negative user votes on the trailer posted on Youtube. I think it got one ‘like’ for every thousand ‘dislikes’. And I’m sure if it was an option people would have used a stronger response than just ‘dislike’.

As for the movie, I have to admit it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Now that’s not saying it’s good or I liked it, just that it’s not as horrible as I predicted. I wasn’t overcome with unexpected convulsions, got feverish or broke into hives. I sort of just stared stone-faced, shaking my head through the whole thing. So yeah it still sucks.

teenager Ralphie in A Christmas Story 2 sequel 2012
Ralph still does his daydreaming thing

The story takes place five years after our favorite holiday movie. Ralphie is on the cusp of getting his drivers license and more than anything he wants a car for Christmas, along with the girl that he has the hots for at school. Ralph’s wish list has gotten a bit steeper to meet as he’s gotten older.

Ralph gets into some bad luck, damages a car and now has to earn enough money for the repairs. He, along with pals Flick and Schwartz get jobs at Higbee’s department store to earn the cash and wackiness ensues. Meanwhile The Old Man, Mom and Randy have their own zany uninspired adventures.

It’s all pretty bad.

A Christmas Story 2 is nothing like the original. The tone is completely different and these characters only resemble the originals as far as the names they’re given.

Whereas the original found humor in situations we all could identify with from our youth, this sequel goes for bad cartoon-ish slapstick. The original earns the feel good, fuzzy moments, this sequel awkwardly tacks them on because a holiday movie is supposed to have them. The original had likable characters and subtle performances, this sequel has neither of those.

This sequel rides the coattails of a lot of things we all loved in the original. The leg lamp, the furnace, “fudge”, sticking the tongue to the flagpole, Randy getting wrapped for the cold by Mom, Ralph’s daydreaming. All of it was funny in the original. Here, it’s all uninspired imitations that are about as amusing as hearing someone quote the original movie for you.

Christmas Story 2 2012 holiday sequel comedy
A Christmas Story 2’s Old Man and Mom

Leaving the shadow of the original aside (which is hard since A Christmas Story 2 was only made with the intention of using the goodwill we have towards the original to get us to see this one) it’s a bad movie anyway. The story is boring, the gags are unfunny and most of the performances are completely over the top and the actors spend most of the time mugging for the camera.

There’s no point in talking about the cast since really there’s nothing worth talking about. Daniel Stern is the big name attached to this and he didn’t do himself any favors by being in it. Well, besides getting a paycheck.

A Christmas Story 2 started to remind me of when they would make those Saturday morning cartoons based off popular live-action shows, like Happy Days, The Dukes, Giligan’s Planet. They would have the same characters, but it was usually all dialed up to eleven. They would have complete disregard for any kind of plausibility since cartoon can do anything, so they would just come up with wackier and wackier stories. Then they’d drastically dumb everything down for softer brained, younger folk who the complexity of an average Dukes of Hazzard episode was too much to grasp.

That’s what A Christmas Story 2 is: it’s a lousy live-action interpretation of a bad cartoon version of the original A Christmas Story!

A Christmas Story 2 Ralphie
Ralph doing some slapstick

Well, there’s got to be some good here, afterall it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen (maybe I’ve just seen too many movies). The guy who did the grown-up Ralphie narration sounds close enough to Jean Shepard’s voice that he could have been a real asset to have for a parody of A Christmas Story. The old cars that are driving around in the background are very nice too.

I bet the cast enjoyed talking about their favorite scenes from A Christmas Stor between takes. The production designer probably liked getting to decorate the sets with 1940’s props – even though the film doesn’t evoke the era as vividly as A Christmas Story did. Ummm….the chick Schwartz spills perfume on is pretty hot.

Yep, that’s about it. I imagine some people will enjoy this. There must be people who find this kind of comedy funny. Plus,there seems to be so many Christmas flicks being made nowadays there must be a pretty big audience who eat them all up. How else would David Hasselhoff starring as The Christmas Consultant get greenlit?

Ralph goes back to the Chop Suey Palace….
just because it was funny in the original film

So A Christmas Story 2 will find an audience. And I’m guessing it will make a profit too. It didn’t look like it cost much to make, so with DVD sales and TV showings it will turn a buck. It’s never going to touch the original though.

While new moviegoers will still be discovering A Christmas Story thirty years from now, A Christmas Story 2 will be an insignificant footnote to the original. People will stumble onto it and say, “they made a sequel to it? Wow, it looks pretty bad.”.

I think that’s the thing that annoys me the most. The fact that this “sequel” is taking advantage of all that good stuff the original had by redoing it very badly, surrounded by an extremely lazy, boring story. It’s as if they’re thinking we liked seeing all this stuff the first time around, so we’ll like it just as much seeing the characters do it again. Man, how wrong they are.

A Christmas Story Bumpus Hounds dogs eating turkey
The Bumpus’ Hounds Attack!

A Christmas Story 2 is undeniably made by people who saw a delicious, appetizing, easy target that once they managed to get their hands on they knew they could make an easy buck off of it. Forget about thinking if it was really a good idea or care about the quality of the final product, they did it anyway.

They must of been like the Bumpus hounds attacking the Christmas turkey.

The good news is that the final result is a completely, inconsequential film. It is totally forgettable. In fact now coming to the end of writing about A Christmas Story 2 it’s already fading from my memory and I’m in no rush to go back to revisit it and refresh myself of any of this. Even if someone double-dog dares me to, I think I’ll take a pass.

I will end up tuning into some of A Christmas Story again this year. Even though I can almost recite the movie at this point, I know I’ll enjoy watching it once again.


 

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Not Daniel Stern!!!!

  2. My head is still spinning after reading this review.

    I figured it was just basic cultural Knowledge. The Christmas Story was a classic movie that did not need to be touched?

    Ugh….

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