Review: ‘A Christmas Story Christmas’

“A Christmas Story Christmas” starring Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker was released Nov. 17 on HBO Max. You’re likely to read a lot of cynical reviews — ignore them all.

If you’ve not watched it yet, let this serve as an official notice: No matter what you think of the original, and no matter what you end up thinking about the sequel, it will never live up to whatever we dreamed up in our minds, having watched it on loop every Christmas for years. We’ve all thought about where Ralphie and Randy and the other characters are today. Or, you haven’t ever thought of it but are now forced to.

In a sequel to “A Christmas Story,” Billingsley’s Ralphie Parker finds himself back in Hohman, Indiana, for Christmas following news that his Old Man has died.

Set in 1973 — 33 years after the original film’s setting — his hometown return comes at a time when adult Ralphie is coming to terms with his lackluster career as an author in Chicago.

Ralphie, of course, runs into old friends and foes, all of whom give viewers a chance to watch connections come alive again.

“A Christmas Story Christmas” follows the concept of the original film — with relatable family events and holiday themes intertwined with grown-up problems.

From daydreams to Higbee’s storefront windows, the film pays homage to the 1983 original without leaning too far into nostalgia that would make it cringy. Instead, the film finds a perfect balance of nods to the past while carving out its own holiday movie plot.

The movie’s soundtrack is full of classic Christmas songs woven into the backdrop of the film.

In an era when sequels, reboots and continuations of once-popular or cult classic media continue to rear their head, “A Christmas Story Christmas” carefully lets us in on a glimpse of Ralphie’s life at a pivotal moment — the immediate grief of mourning the loss of his father while trying to make sure his family has a perfect Christmas.

As someone who only recently began to enjoy and appreciate “A Christmas Story,” this sequel had me shedding tears.

It may not become a marathon movie like its original, but its feel-good, family-friendly story will entertain and, perhaps, help to introduce the original to a new generation.