by: Dr. Boogie
Remember how great A Christmas Story was? If so, this is going to be a really painful read for you.
For everyone else who wasn't, say, alive when the original movie came out, A Christmas Story was a movie about a series of misadventures one young lad experiences in the lead up to Christmas. I'd say more, but most of what happened in that movie has been repackaged and rereleased as A Christmas Story 2, a straight-to-DVD release that comes nearly 30 years after the original film. I can tell you that the concept was pretty thoroughly explored in the original, but not all filmmakers are discouraged by something like that. It's like the old saying goes: "If you can't make something original, find an idea that worked before and beat it like a dead horse that owes you money."
I've put together a handful of the film's most defining aspects in part because I don't want you to risk too great an exposure to the film, but mostly because it's really just these things repeated over and over again for 80 minutes.
This movie won't even let you pretend there's going to be anything new in it. Mere minutes after the opening credits, the narrator (this time played by the writer of the film rather than the writer of the original story) calmly reassures you that nothing at all has changed in the six years since we last saw the family. And hey, wouldn't you know it, all the old gags are still intact as well, as though they were carefully extracted from the previous film and placed into this one like pictures of a dead relative, hovering in the background and reminding you of happier times. Be sure to snort plenty of Ovaltine!!!
DANIEL STERN AS "THE OLD MAN"
Daniel Stern has done a lot of stuff, but he could never quite capture the amount of attention he garnered when he was getting horribly mangled and mutilated in the Home Alone movies. I have to imagine part of the problem is that when he tries to look intimidating, he winds up making a face like you see above. That's not what we're looking for in a father figure whom your main character is supposed to be terrified of. Hell, the original Old Man was played by Kolchak the fucking Night Stalker! Bring some gravitas, man!
Not that Daniel Stern was working with good material. The film decides that the bits about him cursing incoherently at the furnace was substantial enough to warrant a whole subplot about him hunting down a cheap replacement. And lest you forget why you're supposed to sit through long scenes of him talking with contractors and dealing with cartoonish repairmen, the movie features plenty of cuts of the Old Man standing in front of the camera uttering gibberish like he's suffering from the lingering effects of getting hit in the head with an iron.
Now that he's in his 40s, Peter Billingsley just doesn't have the range to play a teenager. Luckily, they found a really annoying kid to ham it up as 15-year-old Ralphie. They covered up his brown hair pretty good, don't you think? Seriously, though, I assume Ralphie dialed up his acting to distract from the awful dye job. I was so mesmerized by his roots that I almost missed hearing him recite callbacks to the first movie. Yeah, Ralphie, you getting that BB gun was pretty great. Looks like it's all downhill for the rest of your life, though. There's something kind of sad about Ralphie, like you can just imagine him every year around Christmas time relieving that one particular Christmas in the late 30s/early 40s where he got a cool toy and beat the hell out of this ginger kid (oddly enough, no sign of Scut Farkus in the whole affair).
There are plenty of reasons to not like Ralphie, chief among them being his idiot friends, Flick and Schwartz.
FLICK AND SCHWARTZ
Any shred of subtlety left in the movie goes out the window once these two get going. At one point, one the characters refers to the three of them as "The Three Stooges". That is an insult to the dignity of the actual Three Stooges. I longed for the days of eye pokes and pie-throwing when it came time for the three of them to be in a montage of screwing up different jobs. While working for that department store from ACS the First, one of them wraps a baby in wrapping paper. What kind of Tom and Jerry-esque shit is that? He had to look at the baby to apply the wrapping paper, and it was crying most of the time, but he was such a broken down shell of a man after only a few hours of retail work that none of that registered with his smooth, reptilian brain?
I was lulled into thinking this movie was just derivative and dull. Just a hokey, by-the-numbers DVD release to cash in on what is now, unfortunately, a franchise of films. But the movie surprised me by attempting a couple moments that were probably meant to be seen as slapstick, but came across as downright...
The first one comes when Ralphie and the two jerkoffs he hangs out with are working the mail room at the department store. Flick is putting the mail into the pneumatic tubes for delivery, and everything is just fine.
And then came this bit of horror out of nowhere:
His fucking tongue nearly gets torn out of his fucking mouth! Merry Christmas, everyone!
Sometime later, Randy takes a bite of an old candy bar in his pocket and cracks a filling. His mom wants to take him to the dentist, but he doesn't want to go to the old-timey scary dentist. Oh, it sounds like comedy is on the way. Better loosen my belt in case I have to have any big belly laughs!
Okay, so "Gunter Strasson DDS" is kind of a scary German guy. Seems kind of heavy for what is an otherwise pointless aside from the main story. Then Narrator Ralphie chimes in to remark that he doesn't believe in using Novocain. Is he just being hyperbolic? Surely the kids referring to him as "The Butcher of Berwin Avenue" is just some overblown child's fantasy, right?
Nope. Turns out he really does just drill right into your teeth without painkillers. I don't know if it was the flailing, or the dentist laughing, or the child actor's very convincing screams, but things get kind of dark right about here. I was expecting to hear the dentist stop for a moment to ask, "is it safe?"
Whereas the main plot of the original was Ralphie trying to get a BB gun, this time around his only goal is to get enough money to fix a car he wrecked. In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, he manages to scrape together $85 (in today's market, adjusted for inflation, that would be $84), then blows half of it buying dinner for some homeless kid's family. But it's okay because the dealer forgives the debt on account of Christmas. Hooray. They even work in getting a new leg lamp for the Old Man because that was about the only thing they hadn't referenced, apart from the Bumpuses' dogs. The Old Man decides to stop being so cheap and buys Ralphie the car he wrecked. And he also paid to fix the roof. But that's not what I find most galling about the ending:
This girl Ralphie has been pining over shows up at his house and decides she likes him. We've only seen the girl thrice: once for an introduction, once in band practice where Ralphie nearly ejaculates while thinking about her, and one other time where she sort of looks on at him with pity. Now she stops by to say that she likes Ralphie. This guy never even pursued her as a love interest, unless you count a dream sequence wherein he rescues her from a Death's Head-style Nazi, and now he just gets her? What the hell kind of payoff is that? She didn't even have any lines in the film save for these last ones where she fawns over some guy she saw a couple times. Now they're driving off into the sunset together.
And it still isn't as good a gift to Ralphie as that damned rifle!
Who wanted this movie? People who aren't familiar with the original won't understand the countless references to the original, and people who have seen the original will hate the movie for referencing it.
Thing is, once you're this deep into December, there's a pretty good chance you've already either seen A Christmas Story, or you've at least had the opportunity to see it a couple of times. And if not, all you have to do is wait until Christmas Day, and you can watch the whole damn movie whenever you want! There are stations like TBS whose programming directors said, "fuck it," and just threw the movie up for 24 hours, calling it a tradition! You know who's going to be making a tradition out of A Christmas Story 2? Me, to remind myself of what an idiot I am! Think about it: No one on earth or in low orbit saw the trailer for this movie and thought it would be any good. Yet I willingly watched this movie.
Can a person lose their right to watch movies if they watch enough crap?
QUESTION: Are you one of the poor souls who was somehow tricked into watching this movie? Perhaps you were you forced at gunpoint to watch it? Are you one of the lucky ones who have managed to avoid having it poinson your mind thus far? Whatever the case may be, share your thoughts on A Christmas Story 2 in the comments section below!
NOTE: If you wanna help out I-Mockery this season and get yourself or a friend a keen gift, we've just released our brand new "8-bit Worlds Collide" Pixel poster! Click here to pick one up in our store!
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