You know what they say: "Don't mess with the classics." There are some movies that never need sequels and never need to be remade. As much as Hollywood likes to rehash old ideas I think we're safe in saying that a movie like 'Citizen Kane' will never get remade. Now, I'm not putting 'A Christmas Story' on the same level as the illustrious Charles Foster Kane's Rosebud, but there's sense in what I'm saying. The story of Ralphie, his wacky family, and his most memorable Christmas are perfect as is. It's a movie that has stood the test of time and become a perennial classic once the holidays roll around. A movie that gets played on a 24-hour cycle on cable every Christmas Eve, and people always tune in. Seriously, don't mess with the classics.
So, what did Warner Brothers do? They messed with a classic. 'A Christmas Story 2' is every bit as ridiculous, unfunny, and banal as its cheese-tastic cover art would lead you to believe. It's 85 minutes of "Why the hell would they do this?" It made me sad just watching it.
In the "official sequel to 'A Christmas Story'" Ralphie (Braeden Lemasters) has grown into a dopey teenager who is obsessed with the prospect of driving his very own car. Lemasters, along with every other poor sap in this movie, has been directed to overact in every scene. The entire movie felt like a high school theater troupe thought it would be funny to put their own spin on a classic holiday tale. Ralphie's family is just as odd, but not nearly as loveable. His mother (Stacey Travis), who is particularly endearing in the original, isn't nearly as affable here. Perhaps the worst casting of all was putting Daniel Stern into Darren McGavin's shoes. Instead of trying to fill the role properly, he's simply been asked to string along a few random sentences of mumbling cusses as the boiler downstairs continues to break down.
Yeah, don't worry, this movie figures you've forgotten the first one so it needs to reference everything that was funny and unforgettable, creating obvious and unfunny situations. Ralphie's old man still fights with being cheap, his brother still gets dressed up by his mother in enormous amounts of winter clothes, Ralphie's cuss word of choice is still "Fudge!" the leg lamp is still around, Aunt Clara still sends ridiculous outfits for the boys to try on, and Ralphie still loses himself in day dreams. Only this time around the references are stale. They're reaching for connections to the first movie because they know they have nothing here that's worth a damn.
You know how mad everyone was with George Lucas as he endlessly toyed with the 'Star Wars' franchise and then proceeded to put out sub-par prequels? What Warner has done here is just as bad. 'A Christmas Story' is nowhere near as popular as 'Star Wars,' but it's every bit as adored by its lifelong fans. Calling this the "official sequel" undermines how great the first movie actually is, how we as a public have accepted it not only as part of our Christmas tradition, but as a full-fledged piece of classic American pop culture. As time has gone on, it has gained fans and popularity, a feat that isn't accomplished by many films. The first movie is truly a classic. This one is devastatingly stupid.
There's nothing about this low-rent, hackneyed sequel that should garner even the least bit of attention from you. It should sit there, on store shelves, alone and unwanted. If you were thinking, for some unknown reason, of giving this to someone for Christmas, please, give them a lump of coal instead. At least coal feels much more Christmas-y than this movie ever will.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'A Christmas Story 2' comes in a Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Digital Copy Combo Pack. The Blu-ray is a 25GB disc. It comes with a slipcover with the same cover art as the case. It's a Region A release.
'A Christmas Story 2' has a decidedly made-for-TV look to it. They've done some fancy filtering to give the picture that dreamy 50s looks, which makes white light appear gauzy, and causes the whole picture to look like it's slightly fuzzy.
In spite of the intentional gauziness, the movie has some strong detail in it. Faces feature some nicely refined facial hair, pores, and freckles. Clothing and other textures, like Ralphie's reindeer costume, look fully tangible at times.
It does have its problems though. It suffers from flatness that made-for-TV movies are so often plagued with. Blacks are flat and shadows lack depth. There is one scene in particular, when Ralphie's dad goes out ice fishing, where an obvious backdrop of trees and sky has been rolled down in the background like a backdrop at the local family portrait business. Whether it's a problem with the backdrop itself or the way the camera films it, I don't know. What you will see, however, is light vertical lines that appear grey-green. They're fairly transparent, but visible all the same. It looked fine for something that might air on ABC Family, but there wasn't really anything overly impressive about this transfer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is the same. It's solid when it needs to be, but offers little in the way of impressive or immersive sound mixing. The low-budget quality of the filming most likely affected this too. Sure, dialogue and other sound effects are clearly delivered but there's really nothing that draws you into the movie.
Rear channels are absent any real, meaningful ambient sound. The mix is front-heavy with dialogue, sound effects, and music. There aren't any flubs or miscues in the mix itself, it's just that there aren't any standout moments. On the whole, it sounds average (slightly above average at best). It'll get you through the movie, but at no point will it wow you with its prowess.
Why? Why?! WHY?!! There are certain things you just don't fool around with and 'A Christmas Story' is one of them. It's an indelible piece of American cinema. It has worked its way into our collective lives as a long standing holiday tradition. You don't mess with that. Sadly, Warner Brothers has done just that. They've produced a watered-down version of the original, a movie that fans of the original are sure to loathe if they ever see it. Do yourself a favor and never see it in the first place. This is one to avoid.