Everyone has a different “Holy Grail” of Christmas movies. For some people, that movie is It’s A Wonderful Life. For others, it can be one of the many different versions of A Christmas Carol (Muppets for the win). And for some new schoolers, their perfect Christmas movie could even be Elf. Generally, what Christmas movie you love move often reflects what generation you are from.
Being a member of generation X, there is no question what the seminal Christmas movie was to me. A Christmas Story. It had everything that makes a holiday movie memorable. It was funny and nostalgic, and though it emphasized Ralphie and his incessant quest for an official Red Rider, carbine action,two-hundred shot range model air rifle, we also got to see how Christmas effected the whole family, and how it also reflected a time that can very well be considered the last real era America had any family values. Like I said, to me, the movie is perfect. So the fact that someone tried to cash in on this movie twenty-nine years later, and with a direct to DVD miscarriage of a movie, fills with the kind of rage that could cause me to punch a dolphin under the right circumstances.
I hope I am not alone in my utter disgust here, so if you would be so kind to allow me to rant for a second, we BOTH might feel better when I am through. It will be like primal scream therapy, only with more words. Ofcourse like any article I write that is not a list, there is the chance you will hate it, but that is the risk I run when stepping outside “list” format and horror movies, I guess. For the sake of Christmas, I am fine with that.
” Feels like you may already be getting that rifle you asked for, if you get my drift….”
While I had initially intended this to be a review of Christmas Story 2, with an inevitable dissection to follow, I can’t lie to you people because I respect you too much. I honestly could not get through this movie. I realize for me to sit here and rage about a movie without having given it a full chance is somewhat questionable, from a “journalist” standpoint (I put quotes on that only because we all know I am hardly one of those, in as much as I try) but I have to be honest about what happened. The movie just layers it on so thick right from the get go, and while everything about the original felt real and genuine (which is why it worked) this movie felt like the complete opposite of that.
Listen, do you even know who directed this? Brian Levant. You may not KNOW that you know who he is, but you do know. And you know why you do know, especially around this time of year? Because he directed this atrocity right here:
The only way I could hate this movie more is if it raped someone I love.
I know some people like the cheesiness of Jingle All The Way, but I also know some people like to have sex with animals. Just saying. Just because someone does something doesn’t make it okay. So let me ask, do you know the premise of A Christmas Story 2: Electric Boogaloo? The local rec center is getting closed down and Ralphie will no longer have a place to practice the drums, so he holds a dance-off to raise money to keep it open.
Okay, okay, that is not true.
But even THAT would have had more potential for entertainment than a movie that takes place exactly five years after the first one (with NONE of the original actors, seeing as to how it has been THREE F*CKING DECADES) and pretty much tries to be the exact same movie. You want to know the key difference? Ralphie wants a convertible now. This time I am not kidding. Does anyone else see how disgusting this is? A CONVERTIBLE???!!!
Dear Ralphie Two: I want to punch you in the face until you resemble uncooked hamburger.
The whole allure of the gift in the first film is that it is taboo and that the danger it presents is comical at best. I mean, we see the worst that happens to Ralphie. He kinda does end up shooting his eye out in the original, and by out, I mean he barely gets scratched, but freaks out because everyone was right all along. The gun was also a hilarious coming-of-age gift for a young boy, and the big payoff came in the fact that his Dad, who seemed against the idea the whole time because the Mom was, got it for him anyway, because ultimately, he just wanted to make it the perfect Christmas for his family. But to go from a toy gun to a convertible just shows you how different the world has become in thirty years. And inversely, since the 40’s, when the films take place.
Also, can we talk about casting for a moment? The whole thing that made the first movie work was the palpable camaraderie between the cast, lead by Ralphie, who really was an adorable every-boy. Now, just to enrage you all again, here is Ralphie and his little brother from part two.
I cannot look at this picture without my hands curling into shaking fists. Typing this caption with shaking fists was quite difficult, actually.
And notice in that pic how they did a spin on the “bunny suit” joke in the first film. Now the little brother got a costume from the Aunt, and he is a sailor. HAHAHAHAHA. Hold on, I am still in the middle of being blown away at how brilliant that is. HAHAHAHA. *Coughs. HAHAHA. Yes, that is what it is like, from the first frame. From the Dad’s adoration of the leg lamp (oh, and screw you Daniel Stern, for taking part in this), to the “bully standoff” (this time, in a kooky candy cane fight sequence that is so contrived you may weep for the death of your childhood as you watch it) this is The Hangover Part 2 of Christmas movies. Just does all the same stuff, and does it WAY less effectively. And in the process, almost ruins the original. Thankfully, I only said almost.
You get your damn dirty mitt off of that leg lamp, Stern. She doesn’t belong to you.
The only way I can describe how I felt trying to watch this film is, I felt like I was cheating on my first girlfriend with her whorish grandmother, decades later. It felt gross. I know gross may seem like a bold overstatement, but really, it felt gross. But there is a genuine reason it felt gross, and I feel like being real with you people, because, well, I love you.
Truth is, Christmas Story WAS the last film I remember seeing with my whole family when I was a kid, back when things were still normal. Before my Sister was so far away, helping to mold young minds. And before my parents had the nasty split. And before my brother became a respected screenplay writer. And before we were all split up and miles apart. We all bundled up, together, as a family, and walked to the theater in Weymouth and watched that movie right around Christmas when it came out. So, to me, I think it symbolizes a lot more than just a great film to me. I think it symbolizes a great time in life, when we were all still pure. Sorry it that sounds silly or idealistic, but I am just being honest.
Between “You’ll shoot your eye out!” and “Sucking soap will make you blind”, Ralphie had a great deal of justifiable eye insecurities.
So maybe my hatred for A Christmas Story 2 will make a little more sense to you now. Even I know you can’t recreate perfection, and trying this hard only hurts the soul. But the reality is, even a crappy sequel can’t touch or taint the original. Hell, if that kid who got his tongue stuck to the pole can make a porn twenty years later and THAT didn’t ruin the original, nothing will. That did come pretty damn close, though. People like him and Screech have a special level in Hell reserved for just them.
Easily not the nastiest thing he has had his tongue against on film.
And finally and completely unrelated, a huge thank you to all the readers who have hopped on over to my site, Better Than Bacon. The site actually just passed one million readers, and that simple fact does not stop blowing my mind. I thank all of you who helped make that happen, and have been kind enough to read and comment on the pieces on both this site and that one. Unreality readers genuinely are the coolest fans on any site on the web, hands down. Even when you guys yell at me in the comments because I did a concept piece I still can’t help but love you crazy kids. And in case you forgot what I said prior due to my rant, screw you, Christmas Story 2. If you had a face I would punch it.
In part three, Ralphie becomes the rabbit from Donnie Darko, and the series takes a real sinister turn.