Yesterday afternoon I was surfing around the web, consuming pop culture stories as I am wont to do. A girl with a blog needs to stay informed. As I was catching up on the latest and greatest in the world of pop, I stumbled upon a story that caught my eye: “ A Christmas Story 2 goes straight to DVD.”
A Christmas Story 2? Seriously?
I’ll admit that at first I thought that this was some ill-timed joke – April Fool’s Day was, after all, a few months ago. There was no possible way that this could be a thing. No one would be dumb enough to think that creating a sequel to the beloved Christmas movie would be a good idea. Was this a story in The Onion?
Then, to my horror, I realized that this was real. This was no parody – A Christmas Story 2 wasn’t just being contemplated, it had already been made. Daniel Stern, I expected better of you.
Worst. Idea. Ever.
A Christmas Story is a cultural institution. The idea that they would tamper with that just makes me mad. This is not a story that required some kind of follow up; that final scene of Ralphie and his family having an impromptu Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant is all the closure I need.
Reading the plot of A Christmas Story 2 only served to increase my hostility to the project:
“When 15 year-old Ralphie accidentally wrecks his dream car before even getting it off the lot, he and his friends Flick and Schwartz band together to raise the money to fix it by Christmas Eve – before the car dealer reports the incident to the police. They all get their (first!) jobs, but run into trouble at every turn. When things look most bleak, Ralphie finds the true meaning of Christmas with the help of his family and his friends.”
This makes no sense and doesn’t even sound good on paper. Ralphie, to me, will always be frozen in time as the little boy who dreamed of getting a Red Rider BB gun. I never once considered what he would be like as a teenager. I don’t care. Part of the charm of A Christmas Story was that the plot was simple and relatable. Every child, at some time of another, dreams of the perfect Christmas gift and obsesses over it in the weeks prior to the holiday. Sometimes you get the gift; sometimes you don’t. In my case, you get to watch your brother open the gift you coveted and then get to cry the entire car ride home (Thanks a lot Grandma). Regardless of the outcome, Ralphie’s desire is one that identifiable to every person who celebrates Christmas. A Christmas Story 2 does not tell the tale of a shared experience. It sounds exactly like something that was dreamed up in a studio board room rather than being inspired by Jean Shepherd’s tales of growing up in the Midwest, with a dose of forced familiarity thrown in. Based on the DVD cover, The Old Man appears to still be infatuated with a Leg Lamp, which means that he must have somehow found a replacement for the one that was ruined in the original movie. How many “major awards” can one man win?
I came a little late to the fandom of A Christmas Story; I don’t think I saw the film all the way through until 5 years ago. I’d seen snippets here and there – it is, after all, on 24 hours straight on Christmas – but I just never sat down to actually watch it in its entirety. Once I finally did, however, I was instantly smitten and have insisted on watching the film every year since, much to the chagrin of my family, who are kind of over A Christmas Story. Apparently all the years that I was ignoring the film, they were actually watching it. Not only is the movie so very quotable, but it is just a lot of fun and features some great performances. Darren McGavin as The Old Man is just fabulous; he really is one of the great comedic characters on film. I like Daniel Stern and all, but the thought of him stepping into the role doesn’t make me happy. McGavin was The Old Man and no one is going to be able to fill those shoes. (Fun fact – the studio originally wanted Jack Nicholson for the role of The Old Man, which would have made A Christmas Story a lot more terrifying. It was ultimately decided that going from The Shining to A Christmas Story was probably not a good idea.) McGavin was so iconic that I even have a bobblehead of him with the Leg Lamp in my bobblehead collection:
One of the most fun pop culture field trips that I’ve ever taken was to the A Christmas Story house in Cleveland. My friend A and I were in town for a Yankees/Indians game and I had heard that you could tour the house that was used in the film. I was honestly nervous to bring this up as a possible thing to do when we were in town; I wasn’t sure if A would be down for it. Turns out, A was a bigger fan of the movie that I was and was completely down with working this into our itinerary. As we drove to the house, we discussed the possibility that we might be the only people that would be there. It was a Friday in July – how many people were even thinking about Christmas, let alone interested in checking out the house from the movie?
As it turns out, quite a few people had the same idea that we had. When we pulled up to the ticket booth, a line had already formed. As I talked to some of the other people on the tour, they admitted that they too thought they might be the only people there. I had always known that people loved A Christmas Story, but that was the day that I realized what a phenomena it really was.
Though the house was only used for the exterior shots in the film, the man who purchased the house and refurbished it tried to make the interior look as much like the movie as possible. The man who did this was just a fan – I’d argue an obsessive one – who wanted to pay tribute to his favorite film and preserve this piece of film history. He did a great job and though the layout of the interior is clearly different, the spirit of the film is alive and well within.
Perhaps the most hilarious part of the tour was the fact that the actor who played Randy (Ian Petrella), Ralphie’s little brother, was at the house and was available for autographs. Apparently, he does this all the time. We were the first tour of the day and he arrived late, coffee in hand, looking like he might have had a rough night. He was fairly grumpy, but the idea of a signed photo from Randy was too much for me to pass up.
I did, however, immediately regret that $10 purchase as soon as I walked away. The photo is now in some random drawer in my apartment, but it is a fun reminder of our trip. I hope my future brushes with “celebrity” are more exciting. I wonder if Petrella is in A Christmas Story 2 – he’s been milking the glory of the first film for twenty years now, so I’m sure that he’d be in if asked. And considering he occasionally stays at the A Christmas Story house when he’s in town for the appearances, I’m guessing he needs the money.
All those people were at the A Christmas Story house in Cleveland because that movie meant something to them. It makes me sad to think that people are trying to cash in on that and in the process tarnish the good A Christmas Story name (well, as good as it can be since the guy who played Flick wound up doing porn). It’s bad enough that there is A Christmas Story musical opening on Broadway this November; we really didn’t need this direct to DVD garbage as well. Leave our Christmas memories alone. I won’t watch A Christmas Story 2 and I’m guessing most other people won’t either.
In other words: A Christmas Story 2? Fudge no.