Robert E. Acuña’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of the most comforting & nonconfrontational Christmas films since the original.
'A Christmas Story Christmas' is the 9th film in this franchise...oh...did you not know, they made 9 OF THESE!?!
Long before the Christmas classic, in 1976 there was a film called 'The Phantom of the Open Hearth'. It followed a teenage Ralphie trying to survive high school with some of the same plot beats like the leg lamp gag.
Then in 1982, they made a sequel called 'The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters' which followed Ralphie having a terrible date on the national holiday.
1983 came around and a CHRISTMAS CLASSIC was born. 'A Christmas Story' initially failed at the box office but would gain popularity on syndication, VHS, and DVD sales. Need I say more?
Well, I do because in 1985 the next film would be called 'The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski' and it would have a middle-aged Ralphie celebrating Thanksgiving.
Another sequel would be made in 1988 called 'Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss' and yes, these titles are progressively getting dumber. This story would be a Parker family vacation at a Michigan lakeside camp.
In 1994 Bob Clark, the same director of the original, directed a theatrical sequel titled 'My Summer Story' and the film was a colossal flop. Audiences didn't understand what the film was because it was a sequel to 'A Christmas Story' without any of the same actors or Christmas.
A direct-to-video reboot sequel was made titled 'A Christmas Story 2' and it's one of the worst films ever made. It attempts to outdo the original film and ends up embarrassing itself with some truly cringey creative choices.
Lastly, in 2017 there would be 'A Christmas Story LIVE' which had a star-studded cast re-enacting the classic Christmas film live on stage.
Phew, I can't believe these films I typed out are real and you can watch them right now.
Anyway, Peter Billingsley returns to play Ralphie in this definitive sequel to Bob Clark's Christmas classic.
'A Christmas Story Christmas' is a re-quel in the same vein as 'Jurassic World' and 'Scream (2022)'. While the characters are older, the plot beats are somewhat the same with some slight modifications to spice things up.
It's easy to chalk this up as lazy but what ultimately saves this is its heart.
Everyone involved with this film truly put their heart into this and it's hard to be mad at this. It's like going home for the holidays and seeing all the family members you know and love.
Darren McGavin made the original film what it is today because of his lovable performance as Mr. Parker and while he, unfortunately, passed back in 2006, this film does its damnedest by having his presence felt in every scene.
Peter Billingsley is just as charming & silly as he was in the 1983 film. He holds this film together with his soft-spoken performance and it's no wonder his portrayal of Ralphie is iconic.
In fact, this entire cast is lovely.
It was wholesome as hell catching up with Scott Schwartz, R. D. Robb, and Zack Ward after all these years.
But for my money, Julie Hagarty & Erinn Hayes are the scene stealers. They cracked me up nearly every time they spoke.
Having the story revolve around Ralphie trying to give his kids the same sweet Christmas his father gave him is so damn lovable. The way the story ends will tug at your heartstrings, no matter how cynical you may be.
'A Christmas Story Christmas' is a surprisingly emotional sequel that finally gives this franchise a well-needed ending.