Category Archives: Holiday TV

What’s on TV tonight to celebrate the season!

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.

Oh, fudge! Ralphie Parker returns in ‘A Christmas Story’ sequel

Ralphie Parker returns!

Peter Billingsley will reprise his iconic role as Ralphie Parker, the protagonist who dreamed of receiving an Official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle in the 1983 release of “A Christmas Story,” in HBO Max’s upcoming sequel, “A Christmas Story Christmas.”

The movie is set 33 years after the original.

Set in 1973, the film follows a now grown-up Ralphie, who returns to his childhood home on Cleveland Street in Hohman, Indiana, following the death of his Old Man. The struggling writer is hoping to give his two children a Christmas like he remembers as a child. And he hopes to connect with his childhood friends, too.

“Ralphie’s not really where he wants to be in his life but he’s still a dreamer, so he still has these fantasies of what his life could be, where it could go,” Billingsley — now 51 — said in an interview with People magazine. “And then he’s called home with some real responsibilities and burdens.”

In that interview, Billingsley said he was “cognizant” of wanting to “protect” the new movie’s “association to the original.”

“A Christmas Story” has become an iconic part of American culture, airing annually for 24 hours, beginning Christmas Eve, on both TNT and TBS.

Billingsley said many fans consider the original movie “borderline sacred.”

Check out some exclusive photos from the movie here.

Billingsley said the movie is “in many ways, a love letter to the Old Man character” and to Darren McGavin, who portrayed Ralphie’s dad. McGavin died at 83 in 2006.

Fans of the original will see some familiar faces. Ian Petrella will reprise his role as Ralphie’s younger brother Randy. “A Christmas Story Christmas” will also feature returning actors Scott Schwartz (Flick), R.D. Robb (Schwartz) and Zack Ward (Scut Farkus).

Julie Hagerty will assume the role of Mrs. Parker as Melinda Dillon, who portrayed Mrs. Parker in the original, retired from acting in 2007.

Expect to see a spot-on replication of Cleveland Street, too.

“We created 11 structures back there, including the Bumpus house,” Billingsley told People. “We built them from the ground up and really replicated old Cleveland Street.”

“A Christmas Story Christmas” was produced by Billingsley and Vince Vaughn through their Wild West Picture Show Productions company for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.

“A Christmas Story Christmas” will be released Nov. 17 on HBO Max.

The original “A Christmas Story” movie is based on anecdotes in Jean Shepherd’s 1966 book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.”

“A Christmas Story Christmas” is not the first attempt at a sequel, though it seems to be the most official — or appropriate.

There was the 1994 “It Runs in the Family,” which was later renamed “My Summer Story.” The 2012 release of “A Christmas Story 2” ignores “My Summer Story” and reverts to following in line with “A Christmas Story.”

In what’s sometimes referred to as the “Ralph Parker franchise,” a collection of stories from Shepherd center around Ralphie Parker and his family.

The first of which is the 1976 “The Phantom of the Open Hearth.” It continued with the 1982 release of “The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters,” which is followed by “A Christmas Story” in 1983.

In 1985, “The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski” was released and was followed in 1988 by “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss.”

Of course, there is also “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” which was originally released in 2009 and landed on Broadway in 2012.