The blond moppet Peter Billingsley, who played in the 1983 holiday snooze that became a classic, was 11 years old when filming began. Billingsley from “A Christmas Story,” with his goggle-like glasses and beaming gopher smile, became, in a manner, as iconic a movie marker of rowdy kiddie-culture spirits as Macaulay Culkin’s cheeky gaze of frozen fright in “Home Alone.”
That was then, though; not now. Billingsley, now 51, plays the father in “A Christmas Story Christmas,” a modern sequel to the film many people consider to be their all-time favourite Christmas television haze.
How Parker Looks in a Christmas Story Christmas?
As the adult Ralphie Parker in “A Christmas Story Christmas,” Billingsley is still a likeable performer, but he no longer has the same rascally BB-gun excitement. He looks like a sad Rick Moranis crossed with the late NBC news man John Chancellor.
Set in 1973 (33 years after the previous film), it follows Ralph as he tries to offer his family a traditional Christmas celebration like the one his father gave him and his siblings when they were little. Sandy (Erinn Hayes) and Ralph’s children Mark (River Drosche) and Julie (Julianna Layne) star.
Although “the Old Man” actor Darren McGavin passed away in 2006, his presence in the film is as palpable as that of “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman.
What Happens in the Movie?
Ralph hopes to leave his day job and devote the next year to writing a novel. Nearly every Chicago-based publisher has passed on his science fiction doorstop, “Neptune’s Oblivion.” Then he learns that the Old Man has passed away.
Ralph takes his family to Hohman, Indiana to spend Christmas at the same mustard-yellow Cleveland Street home where “A Christmas Story” was shot so that his mom (Julie Hagerty) will feel at ease. And of course, you can always go home again in this film. There will be a few minor accidents, some broken bones, a bit of crime, and multiple encounters with major characters from “A Christmas Story,” all portrayed by the original performers.
Although I enjoy many Christmas-themed media, including movies, TV shows, and pop albums, “A Christmas Story” has always grated on my nerves. I can see why it’s so popular: it was ahead of its time in many ways, but its blend of melancholy and humour, of toasty conventionality and youth-movie anarchy, with Jean Shepherd’s narration drizzled over it all like spiked maple syrup, is undeniably appealing.
The movie took place in 1940, but it had the tone of a ’80s film after ‘Animal House,’ complete with bullies, mockery, camp cruelty, and an Old Man drooling over a leg lamp.
Blending of tones has always reminded me of a movie trying to both embrace you and spit in your face. One of the first Hollywood films that seemed to be selling nostalgia for…nostalgia was “A Christmas Story,” whose author, Jean Shepherd, was transformed into an overzealous bard of storybook pandering.
Is the Classic Film Better Than the Latest Release?
When compared to its predecessor, the new film is significantly less biting and more earnest in tone.
Casual and down-to-earth elements are celebrated, such as the use of dial phones and manual typewriters, early 1970s prices ($4 for a Christmas tree! ), Ralph’s quick and painless Christmas shopping at Higbee’s (he buys an Easy-Bake Oven and a Flexible Flyer), and the ruthless grandma who uses the (non)word “bajillion” in Scrabble to vent her aggression.
Many comedies of the 1980s, including “A Christmas Story,” hinged on the premise that men are children, which eventually came to feel more like an ideology than a simple wish. Billingsley’s Ralph isn’t a prat in “A Christmas Story Christmas,” despite his glum demeanour. His goal is to put on a respectful performance of Christmas, and he isn’t living in a “Jingle All the Way”-style world of corporate greed.
The neighbourhood bullies (the Bumpus kids) are still around, but now Ralph has bigger problems, like how to fit a too-tall Christmas tree in his living room or how to replace the stolen presents from the faulty trunk of his ’66 Plymouth.
What is Funny About the Christmas Singers?
Laughably, Hagerty says of Christmas singers, “They’re like ticks! Once they get to your door you can’t get rid of them”). The scene where Ralph and Sandy tell their kids to expect less for Christmas was touching because it rang true in these uncertain, pricey times.
Scut Farkus (Zack Ward), the wildcat bully who, tellingly, never appeared in Shepherd’s writing, is back to pick fights with Flick (Scott Schwartz), who now owns his father’s bar, which the film uses like Cheers. Also returning is R.D. Robb, the loser who can’t pay his bar tab.
The film this time, however, is about Shepherd’s transition into the writing profession. He’s a man of lofty “ideas,” like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” who finds fulfilment in the mundane.
This is, of course, a fabrication, but we get the gist of it. Similar to “A Christmas Story,” “A Christmas Story Christmas” has a softer core, but unlike the original, it doesn’t make you feel like you drank eggnog spiked with Long Island Iced Tea.