Warner Brothers will release "A Christmas Story 2"—what they're calling "The Official Sequel to the Perennial Classic That Sold 7.6 Million Units to Date"—on October 30, pushed by national promotional campaigns and co-sponsorships with Pillsbury cookies and Stephens' hot cocoa.
I'm sure that a fair number of the 7.6 million households that own "A Christmas Story" on Blu-ray or DVD will be curious enough to pick up a copy, but be warned that none of the original cast is involved in the sequel.
Daniel Stern ("Home Alone," "City Slickers") takes over as The Old Man, replacing Darren McGavin, who died in 2006. Stacey Travis replaces Melinda Dillon as Mother, with Braeden Lemasters ("Men of a Certain Age") playing Ralphie and Valin Shinyei as brother Randy. David W. Thompson is Flick.
Also missing this time around is Jean Shepherd, whose book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash was the inspiration for the film. Shepherd's voicevoer narration as the adult Ralphie lent just the right tone to the story.
"A Christmas Story" has been voted the Number 1 Christmas film of all time. TBS runs 24-hour marathons every year, and in Cleveland there's a convention to celebrate the film.
There isn't much information available about the sequel, but apparently Ralphie is now a teenager who wants a 1938 Hupmobile Skyline Convertible, and a look at the cast at imdb turns up characters like Ensign Payne, Nazi Interrogator, Heating Guy, Butcher, Guner Strassen D.D.S., Construction Foreman, Homeless Boy, and Irritable Woman.
It probably speaks volumes than none of the original cast is acknowledged in a cameo role, as if Billingsley and the rest would rather shoot their eyes out than defile the name of a film that, every year, seems to get better and better. It's the beloved characters that people welcome into their houses as a holiday tradition, every bit as much as the story. Will people be able to get past the complete cast overhaul?
That's the $7.6 million question. Nat Mauldin ("Doctor Dolittle," "The Preacher's Wife," "Open Season") wrote the screenplay for this sequel, while Brian Levant ("Jingle All the Way," "The Flintstones") handled the direction. But it just won't be the same without a wide-eyed innocent Ralphie and McGavin caressing that leg lamp, will it?