A Christmas Story featured a charming, old-fashioned story about Ralphie (Peter Billingsley, Elf), who wanted nothing more in life than to get a Red Ryder BB Gun. His parents (played by Darren McGavin (Raw Deal) and Melinda Dillon (Magnolia)) in the depression era-Midwest kept him in check as he pleaded with them to get it for Xmas.
Now in cinema life, the next summer gave Ralphie the chance to spin tops (and look for the best one possible), while his mother an… friends had their own strange summer experiences. The problem is that this sequel was shot 11 years later, so Billingsley is not Ralphie anymore, he is now played by Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down), and Ralphie’s parents are now played by Charles Grodin (Midnight Run) and Mary Steenburgen (Parenthood). This is fine, but the problem is that McGavin and Dillon so embodied the roles, after a decade of age, Grodin and Steenburgen seem like the California equivalents, with the edge considerably dulled with time.
Don’t get me wrong, one should credit director Bob Clark (who directed the first film) with getting the band back together, so much so that Jean Shepherd (whose stories were the inspiration for both films) played a more active part in My Summer Story, and the intent (and nostalgia) does seem pretty ripe in this film too, but the execution is tired and so blatantly recycled that one feels ashamed for having watched it.
1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen viewing for the world to enjoy. Surprisingly it doesn’t look too bad, but even though it’s summer in the Midwest, there aren’t too many bright colors to enjoy (what few that do don’t bleed or anything).
Dolby Stereo. No surround, no decent fidelity, just perfectly acceptable sound. Stereo for a film made in 1994? Yep, but one shouldn’t have high expectations when they watch this..
Nary a peep, but I guess that’s a good thing.
The performances aren’t too bad, but things seem terribly miscast, and after almost a dozen years for the original to pile up a huge following, this sequel falls flat. Keep the first in your library or wait for the TBS marathon, and you should be all set.