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Here’s Why Everyone Bashing ‘A Christmas Story Christmas’ Is Wrong

Peter Billingsley as Ralphie in A Christmas Story Christmas

A Christmas Story has become a holiday season staple in many homes throughout the decades. Whether you own a leg lamp (my family has one) or you just sit around and let the movie play throughout Christmas Day when it airs on TV for 24 hours straight, the movie is part of Christmas in one way or another. A Christmas Story Christmas is, essentially, the same format as the original: Ralphie is taking us through the story, we get his asides, and he’s still fixated on one thing this holiday season. This time, it’s not a BB Gun, but rather getting his novel out into the world, and it’s all brought down by the fact that his father has died. So, we’re basically left with A Christmas Story for the depressed adult, and the fact that the reviews for the sequel are not equal to that of the original doesn’t feel fair—even though it is new in comparison to the holiday classic.

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Now, to be clear, the reviews for A Christmas Story Christmas aren’t bad. They’re just not nearly at the same level as A Christmas Story. The original has a Rotten Tomatoes (yes, I know) rating of 90% for critics and 88% for audience reviews, while the sequel is at 78% and 81%, respectively. It’s not horrible— just different—but I think the sequel is a perfect continuation of the film.

There have been many cinematic and televised attempts at telling the story of the Parker family—never again with Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker (until now), but there were plenty of attempts at sharing the holidays (all of them) with the Parker family. With A Christmas Story Christmas, though, we’re met with Ralphie Parker struggling to come to terms with his failing writing career in the midst of a holiday season that only gets worse when he realizes that his father has died.

A lot of the negativity surrounding A Christmas Story Christmas comes from comparisons to the original, and that’s what I don’t think is necessarily fair. It’s a continuation of Ralphie’s story, so trying to relate the movie back to the story of the boy who just wanted a Red Ryder BB gun doesn’t work, but the movie does a great job of connecting back to what made A Christmas Story special while still being its own thing.

Returning to Hohman

The movie has Ralphie living in Chicago, where he’s spent the last year writing a novel that he’s trying to get sold (it was “too long and wordy,” according to his potential buyers). Christmas is still the time of the year when he wants to make sure his family has a great time, until their plans are canceled and they have to return to Indiana because Ralphie’s father (originally played by Darren McGavin) has passed away.

The film has most of the original cast back, with the exception of Melinda Dillon (Mother Parker is now played by Julie Hagerty). But what the original movie did—outside of the iconic moments—was to show us a family who just wanted to have a good holiday, and when everything goes wrong, they still find happiness in each other.

And that’s exactly what the second one does, too. It has its funny moments just like the first, it has its cameos, and it finds a way to bring a family together while still pulling on our heart-strings. Maybe it’s because I realized that I am Ralphie Parker (lost my dad and became a journalist, but just … not in that order), but A Christmas Story Christmas has just the right amount of nostalgia while still telling its own story—and frankly, it should get the same kind of love that the original does.

(image: HBO Max)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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