Christmas Story follow-up a worthy addition


Well it happened, 39 years later and we now have a proper follow-up to the cult classic, “A Christmas Story”. Titled “A Christmas Story Christmas” the movie picks up 34 years after the original film, with Ralph now a family man and trying to live up to his Dad’s image in order to give his kids a great Christmas. Both movies come from the book, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” which is a semi-autobiographical collection of stories about growing up in an Indiana steel town by Jean Shepherd. The original movie is an adaptation of the book with Ralph (Peter Billingsley) in the place of Shepherd, who narrated the original film. The new sequel is not based on any follow-up written by Shepherd and instead takes inspiration from his work.

There are a lot of parallels between the 2 movies, as is the case with many legacy sequels. For example, the story is narrated by Ralph but this time it is not Jean Shepherd as the voice since he passed away, it is now Billingsley’s voice that is heard. The stories both follow Ralph in his attempt to get the perfect Christmas, the kids have to deal with the neighborhood bullies, and Ralph’s friends challenge one another to a dare. But that is where the parallels end. 

While the original story was about a child’s attempt to make his own Christmas great, this new one is much more somber with its story. Darren McGavin, the actor who played Ralph’s father in the original, passed away in 2006, and rather than recast him they wrote the movie around it as the central driving force. Ralph and his family go back to his hometown to take care of his mother after his father’s passing. Ralph always spent Christmas with his father, who made the Holiday incredibly special for the entire family. Now Ralph is determined to make his dad proud, while money is tight as he has been trying to become a novelist. During this, Ralph is tasked with righting his dad’s obituary which is incredibly difficult as he cannot condense the stories into a few paragraphs. 

Eventually, he writes an obituary that is so long it takes up the major headlining story. The movie ends with Ralph reading his writing which is the narration of the first movie as it transitions to the original film and voice-over.  

While the first movie was a childlike view of Christmas, pulled directly from the original author’s own childhood, this movie builds on the original, and fictional stories in “A Christmas Story.” The death of the father as a driving plot in the sequel is very fitting as in the original, he was the reason Ralph got the “Red Ryder BB gun” and was a driving factor behind some fan-favorite jokes. The secondary plot thread of Ralph’s inspiration to be a novelist works very well. As the original movie was adapted from a story, it’s very fitting that Ralph’s eventual novel is that exact story. It keeps the film connected to the original source material, even though it is a new story.

This sequel is a worthy successor to one of the best cult classic Christmas movies of all time. It pays homage to the original while being able to build off of its themes to become a different type of film. Both of these movies are available to watch on HBO Max. And don’t worry, it’s impossible for it to shoot your eye out.