One of the most-anticipated holiday films, ‘A Christmas Story Christmas’, a sequel to the 1983 classic A Christmas Story, which TBS plays nonstop for 24 hours every Christmas, premiered on HBO Max today.
There are countless iconic scenes from this film, including “You’ll shoot your eye out,” “Your tongue is frozen to a flagpole,” and “The leg lamp.”
That being the case, why did it take another 39 years to produce a sequel?
Actor Zack Ward, who reprises his role as the villainous Scut Farkus from the first film, has said that producers had tried multiple times to get the original ensemble back together for a sequel.
But none of them captured the essence of the first. Many have tried to write a sequel, but all they’ve accomplished is rehash the events of the original.
A sense of cheesiness pervaded them. Peter Billingsley [the original Ralphie] has to be involved and central to the plot.
The screenplay must not have been working for him, or he was too busy, so he declined,” Ward explains.
Just what was different about the HBO Max cut? The script. Nick Schenk got his hands on it, and his adaptation captured the spirit of the original without resorting to cliche.
He wasn’t attempting a note-for-note recreation of the original. Ward claims that he was not left with the impression that the work was a poor imitation of the source material.
There were a few attempts to remake A Christmas Story throughout the years, but none of them really stood a chance.
A sequel, also titled A Summer Story, was released in 1994, although its cast was different from the 1983 original since, well, kids grow up.
The events of the sequel took place within a matter of months following the original, making the child actors look ridiculously out of business.
Summer was well-received by critics but failed to attract a sizable audience. Another film, A Christmas Story 2, was released in 2012, although, unlike the original and sequel, it was not based on any of the Jean Shepherd stories and had an entirely new cast.
The responses were negative all around. There is a strong continuity between the two films thanks to the inclusion of Billingsley, Ward, and a few other original cast members in the current HBO Max film.
The sequel took place in 1973. Therefore it’s 30 years after the first one. Since Ralphie’s mother is a widow, he always spends the holiday season with her at their home.
All the original characters are there, but now they’re older and wiser, just like us, adds Ward.
That’s the beauty of the original film, I believe; it works equally well for kids and adults. As you develop, so does your understanding of it.
It can be challenging to gain further recognition after a breakthrough performance as a child.
Billingsley will always be associated with his part as Ralphie. At the same time, Ward will always be remembered for his performance as Farkus, despite his numerous other acting credits, which include roles on Lost, Mike & Molly, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
In a recent film featuring George Takei, he served as writer, director, and producer.
However, he is well aware that Farkus will always be his most excellent source of fame, and he has used this to significant effect in his fundraising efforts for causes near and dear to his heart.
He has raised money for anti-bullying campaigns (yes, he gets the irony) and, most recently, for the Alzheimer’s Association by making annual appearances at the Cleveland home where A Christmas Story is set.
Ward’s father suffers from this illness, and he describes it as “brutal.” Alzheimer’s disease is terrible, and we should do everything in our power to eliminate it.
On December 17, an entire month after the release of Story, he will visit Cleveland from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.