March 19, 2016


Starring Charles Grodin, Mary Steenburgen, Kieran Culkin, Christian Culkin, Whit Hertford, Geoffrey Wigdor, Tedde Moore. Directed by Bob Clark. (1994, 85 min).

I'd be willing to wager that some of you had no idea this sequel to A Christmas Story even existed, and for good reason. Originally titled It Runs in the Family and thrown away by its distributor, it played in just a few theaters before vanishing into obscurity...also for good reason. Watching it today mostly serves to reminds us how great A Christmas Story really was.

But it didn't have to be this way. Had A Christmas Story been a box office hit right out of the gate (rather than the belated classic it eventually became), perhaps director Bob Clark and author/narrator Jean Shepherd could have gotten a sequel off the ground while the original cast was still roughly the same age. Instead, 11 years later, they're stuck with an almost entirely new cast playing characters made iconic by other actors, and it just doesn't work.

Born to be wild.

Everyone tries their best (though Charles Grodin is woefully miscast as the Old Man), but My Summer Story's far weaker episodic story and script doesn't allow us to warm up to them. One can't help but assume some of it would have automatically been rendered more amusing with Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon and Peter Billingsley in these situations. Worse yet, there's a completely out-of-place, mood-killing scene half-way through where the family of one of Ralphie's friends is evicted from their home. Considering lighthearted tone of the rest of the film, what exactly was Clark's justification for its inclusion?

Other than conjuring up fond memories of the original, My Summer Story doesn't really serve much of a purpose. Too little and way too late, it's no more than a historical curiosity. On the plus side, it's still infinitely better than A Christmas Story 2, which was vomited straight-to-video in 2012 (bet you didn't know that either).


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