A Christmas Story Christmas

A Christmas Story Christmas ★★★★

“The house was filled with life, laughter, and love once again. The old man would be proud.“

My expectations for this film were at rock bottom after the dreadful A Christmas Story 2 tried to painfully recreate the original film’s nostalgic beats in the cheapest way imaginable. Now, after three attempts at a sequel to Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story, not only is it surprising that A Christmas Story Christmas isn’t terrible but is somehow good. 
Apart from its awkward title, A Christmas Story Christmas somehow manages to be a faithful sequel that has plenty of heart. Peter Billingsly returns with most of the cast of the original film apart from of course Darren McGavin’s who has sadly passed, & Melinda Dillon who has since retired from acting altogether. Billingsly is such a delight to watch as he brings as much charisma to Ralphie Parker as he did as a kid. And the same can go for pretty much everyone in the cast with the biggest highlight for me being the recast of Julie Hagerty as Mrs. Parker. She brings the same ‘chaotic kindness’ as Dillion’s portrayal without being a straight up  impersonation. 
The story was surprisingly more melancholy than I was expecting. The whole story is about Ralphie coming home to Cleveland street to have Christmas after the Old Man’s passing. While on top of that, Ralphie is struggling to both become an accomplished writer and try to give his family a good Christmas. It’s a relatively simple story that’s got a 70s backdrop and the transition from the 1950s into the 70s is surprisingly well done. The story doesn’t pander to nostalgia super hard and most of the time tells it’s own original story. There are also some pretty rewarding character moments (that I will not spoil) that compliment the original in ways I wasn’t expecting. The story has the same dry humor, good characters, and something that I loved is just how heartwarming the whole story was from beginning to end.
The direction by Clay Kaytis isn’t the most groundbreaking but no one can top Bob Clark’s direction. However, I still think he does a commendable job. The cinematography by Matthew Clark is pretty good but the color palette is a little too cool. When I think of the original film, I think of the warm color palette for indoor scenes and the slightly cooler color palette for the outdoor scenes. However, both the indoor and outdoor scenes color palette is a little too cool. I also wished that they used some more stylistic 70s editing, one scene used some picture-in-picture stuff but everything else is cut together somewhat traditionally.
Overall, A Christmas Story Christmas isn’t as good as the original but it stands out to me because it feels like the first actual continuation of Bob Clark’s classic. The comedic performances are all great, the 70s setting gels perfectly with the progression of the story & most of all, it has some heart. I’ve seen plenty of legacy sequels that try so desperately to capture their original film’s magic by just trying to recreate the nostalgic beats of the original. A Christmas Story Christmas succeeds because it doesn’t replicate any sort of formula but rather proudly tells its own story with extreme confidence.

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