In Tales of the Forgotten Sequels, we take a look at film follow-ups that have been lost to time, either by accident or on purpose. Did these Part Twos and Part Threes deserve the bargain bin, or were they victims of unfair expectations? Let’s find out!
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!!
Reality check: A Christmas Story has no business being a holiday classic. Cobbled together from a series of short stories written by Jean Shepard, the film is raw, ugly, and a bit mean-spirited. It’s also a perfect blend of humor, heart, and plain old weirdness. It’s the Married … With Children of yuletide movies.
Yet, for some reason, it’s part of our holiday culture. TBS does an all-day marathon; it’s been nominated for multiple AFI Top 100 lists and has been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress. Right between Casablanca and Citizen Kane.
A Christmas Story 2, released in 2012 and directed by Brian Levant (Beethoven, Jingle All the Way) went direct to video and was completely ignored by the general viewing public. With one unintentional classic under his belt, would Levant’s “official sequel” be his second? Let’s find out!
Darren McGavin’s Replacement Isn’t Terrible
If Ralphie’s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun was the original’s main plot, his dad was the comedic glue. From fighting with the boiler to his leg-lamp obsession, Darren McGavin is amazing.
In A Christmas Story 2, the Old Man is played by Daniel Stern (Home Alone 1 and 2). While the script does him no favors, his comedic timing is spot-on. It’s a good impersonation of Ralphie’s dad, if nothing else.
Ralphie’s Replacement Is a Little Better Than Terrible
When he’s not bouncing around like a cartoon character, Braeden Lemasters is solid as 15-year-old Ralphie. His character is one-noted, but as an honest, earnest do-gooder, he fills the role well.
Holy Moly, We Have a Pulse
After all the corny jokes and bad slapstick, the movie has some heart. Those who like their holiday specials more Hallmark than Krampus will find a few aww moments toward the end. Scenes like ice fishing with dad and Ralphie taking a homeless family for a Chinese dinner work in a cheesy, heartwarming way.
It Checks Off All the Boxes
If you’re a fan of fan service, this film was written for you. It feels like a sequel to the original. Goal aimed for, goal achieved.
It Checks Off All the Boxes
Ever have a friend who thinks they do great impressions? The kid who sat at the lunch table doing awful renditions of Ace Ventura and Austin Powers to a mostly silent crowd? Remember how obnoxious I was they were?
A Christmas Story 2 is that annoying kid at the lunch table. It’s a bad impression of the original. Not only is nearly every gag shoehorned into the sequel, it’s done to lesser effect. Whenever dad yells at the boiler or Flick gets his tongue stuck, it comes off as lazy and desperate.
Braeden Lemasters’s Terrible Hair Dye Job
Dude. C’mon. Your roots are showing.
It Looks Like a Made-For-TV Hallmark Movie
Depending on your point-of-view, this may be a good thing, but the crisp, clean cinematography doesn’t have the grittiness of the original. And in a movie about the holiday traditions of a dysfunctional family, a little dirt on the lens would have been nice.
Flick and Schwartz Have a Candy Cane Fight for No Good Reason
This stinks so bad, it’s near unwatchable.
The Script is Pure Misery
At the risk of repeating myself, this needs to be said again. The script is a disaster. The jokes are corny, the fan service is annoying, and all the sentimentality is forced because that’s what you do in a Christmas movie. Plug in all the shameless rehashing from the original film, and you have a boring mess.
Teenagers Are Annoying
Kids under the age of 12 are adorable and endearing. High schoolers, by rule, are not, especially when they are acting like 10-year-olds. Not a good basis for your feel-good Christmas movie.
Where’s The Family?
The memorable bits of A Christmas Story are when the family is together. They drive to get the tree, they marvel at Dad’s major award, they laugh at Ralphie’s bunny suit. It enhances the comedy because they feel real.
A Christmas Story 2 ditches the family relationships for stupid slapstick and a “who cares” plot about Ralphie and his pals raising money to fix a car. This makes the movie feel plastic, fake, and lifeless. It’s almost as if the writers had written the central plot years earlier and plugged in Christmas Story elements to sell it. Keep the focus inward and this could have been passable.
Flick and Schwartz Focus
In the original film, Ralphie’s pals are comedy filler. In ACS 2, they are the main costars. Why the writers thought this was a good idea is beyond me. They were barely tolerable in the original. Why on earth make them the focus?
Dad Attempts to Save Money by Ice Fishing for Their Christmas Dinner
Just typing that sentence made me embarrassed for the movie.
They Thought Nobody Would Notice This Was a Prop
I Didn’t Hate It As Much As I Thought I Would
Yep. This baffled me too.
Going into the movie, I was expecting the worst. A mockery of a beloved holiday classic designed to trick hapless consumers out of $5 in the Walmart bargain bin. Something miserable.
But I didn’t hate it. In fact, if this was called A Holiday Tale and had all the Christmas Story references stripped out, I’d shrug my shoulders and move on. A candy-coated family flick of which hundreds have been made before. Nothing to see here. Nothing to get angry about.
But calling it A Christmas Story 2 carries a certain weight. While it’s not the shameless cash grab I was expecting, it’s still a poorly conceived sequel that ignores what made the original endearing.
Ho ho, hooey. That’s a better joke than anything you’ll find in this yuletide snooze-fest.