Ok, so I went to the screening a while back and “liked” it. I rewatched it last night and now “love” it. I held off giving my opinion until it went live on HBO Max, as I didn’t want to spoil anything. But if you haven’t watched it, maybe don’t read on. I’m not giving a big spoilers, but just to be safe.
Let’s get one thing straight, sequels usually suck. The creative energy and vision--that lightening in a bottle quality--rarely appears in the sequels. I did not sense that for the new movie. You can tell they didn’t intend to outdo, or match the original. They wanted to harken back to the original, yet create something that can stand on its own.
It is charming and heartfelt, and for those of us who have watched the original again and again, there are delightful Easter eggs in every scene. Even the thematic music is there. Flick and Schwartz are still triple dog daring each other. There is a transcendent Scut Farkus moment, in which he lets Ralphie know about the long-term consequences of the Scut Farkus affair, which casts long shadows into the present.
Plenty of smelly hound dogs fill up the scenes. Sometimes, the camera angles are the same as in the original and that flash of recognition is a thrill.
At the same time, time marches on.
The coal furnace is gone. We can assume that Miss Shields has gone to her well-earned reward. A television has replaced the radio for entertainment. Ralphie wants his children to have the same Christmas magic he had as a child.
For Ralphie, the holy grail of Christmas gifts was the Red Ryder BB gun, but he has come to realize that Christmas is more than the gifts. Christmas magic happens in the unexpected places.
And the ending. That was the best part for me. The way they tied this to the original, where you now realize that the story Ralphie is sitting down to read, IS the first movie. They transition so eloquently into the footage and narration of the first film, before fading to a close. One could now argue that the two films should be watched in reverse, as this is just as much a prequel to the first movie, as it is a sequel.