I’ve been brainstorming for a couple of days now, trying to come up with a single word to describe movie sequels that simply recycle the plots and jokes from the original film. The word I finally came up with was “requel.” A requel is a sequels that can be explained with a single sentence that begins with “It’s exactly like the first movie, except X,” where X is something like “the werewolf is now a wrestler instead of a basketball player” (Teen Wolf Too) or “this time Kevin is in New York instead of Chicago” (Home Alone 2).
A Christmas Story 2 is exactly like the first movie, except this time around fifteen-year-old Ralphie wants a car instead of a Red Ryder BB Gun.
Don’t think that I am simply rallying against needless sequels; I am not. I happen to own original DVDs of Revenge of the Nerds part 4, Police Academy part 7, and Friday the 13th part 10. I have no aversion to sequels in general. It’s requals that I cannot stand as they serve absolutely no purpose (except perhaps to make us long for the originals).
So this is Ralphie, five years after the original Christmas Story took place and with a weird plastic hair helmet instead of normal human hair. Ralphie lives in the same town with the same family and has the same friends so everything is exactly the same, except of course everybody in this movie is obviously played by different actors so nobody looks or sounds remotely the same. They didn’t even try to find people that resembled the original cast. They just hired some random people and threw a pair of red glasses on Ralphie there and called it good. (It’s not good.) Possibly the worst is Daniel Stern, who plays Mr. Parker. Yes. The patriarch of the Parker family is now played by Marv, one of the Wet Bandits from Home Alone.
As the movie opens we learn that all Ralphie wants for Christmas is a car, which sounds very similar to the plot of the original film. Soon we see Ralphie’s father, who is cussing up a storm because he has to go down into the basement to work on the furnace. Hey, I remember that from the first film! Then Ralphie gets in trouble for saying “son of a bitch,” and his mother asks him where he heard such a phrase, and then we get to hear his father say it too. I remember that joke from the original too! Then Ralphie drops something and says “fuuuuuuuuuuudge,” just like he did in the first movie. HI-LAR-I-OUS! Fortunately in this movie we don’t see Ralphie getting a pink bunny costume again for Christmas from Aunt Clara. Instead, she sends his little brother Randy gets s sailor suit.
The list goes on. Instead of turkey this year, the Parker’s plan on having fish. They redo the gag of kids vising an impatient Santa. The family ends up in a Chinese restaurant. Oh, and remember when I said Ralphie doesn’t end up in a pink bunny suit again? He doesn’t — he ends up wearing a brown reindeer suit. Yes, every single plot point of the original film finds its way into this terrible sequel, including this one:
Yes. There’s another leg lamp. And it gets put in the front window of the Parker’s house. And Mrs. Parker doesn’t like it one bit. And Randy touches the leg in a sensual manner. Where have I seen all of this before?
Not only does this film rip off every single gag from the original film, but it’s done with poor acting. Nobody appearing in this film comes off as being remotely likable. I did not laugh one time while watching this movie. I didn’t even smile — and yet, I couldn’t look away. It was like watching the train from Polar Express running over Santa’s reindeer, splattering their guts all over the North Pole. Except instead of reindeer, it was my childhood.
There’s a scene near the end of the movie where Ralphie tries pulling a towel out from underneath the wheel of his dream car, a 1939 Mercury 8. When he does, the car begins rolling down the driveway. Before it can roll out into the street, a young fifteen-year-old girl runs up and stops it from rolling. I checked Wikipedia; a 1939 Mercury 8 weighs between 3,500 and 4,000 pounds. I would really like to know if (a) a vehicle weighing two tons can be started rolling by pulling a towel out from beneath its wheel, and (b) what would happen to a fifteen-year-girl who attempted to stop said led sled from rolling? It’s such a small, insignificant point in the movie to ponder, but after sitting through over 100 minutes of people acting the opposite of how they would in real life, I don’t know why it should be surprising that the physics in this movie don’t make any sense either.
There is a subplot to the movie, one that involves Ralphie and his friends taking jobs in an attempt to raise money and pay back a used car salesman after Ralphie damages one of his cars. Of course the salesman doesn’t call Ralphie’s father because, hey, a fifteen-year-old kid must be good for it, right? Of course the fifteen-year-old boys are able to find jobs in a single day and are able to raise some money, even though I found myself rooting against them for the most part.
Not only is A Christmas Story 2 a requel, it’s a reek-quel. It reeks. It stinks. It’s so bad, it almost makes me like the original a little less. Watching this film is like biting into a rotten fruit log. The first bite is terrible and the aftertaste is worse. This film isn’t even bad in a good way. It’s just bad, bad, bad. Every single person involved in the production of this film deserves to be on Santa’s naughty list.
Avoid at all costs — something I assume will not be difficult to do.