Last year for Christmas my baby sister Jana presented me with a gift, declaring (gleefully, I thought) “You’ll hate it!” My immediate gut reaction was to make cooing noises resembling ‘I’m sure it’s lovely’ but something stopped me. This was Jana. She gets me. She’s not struck by second thoughts or buyer’s remorse. She knows I’m going to hate this. She wants me to hate it.
It was a copy of A Christmas Story 2. That’s right: the sequel. Didn’t know it had one? Yeah, me neither. And A Christmas Story is my favourite holiday movie of all time. It’s just so charming and nostalgiarrific (it even caused me to call Jana a bitch in last year’s review!). But a sequel? Isn’t anything sacred?
Answer: no. Nothing is. But some things should be. This movie is not exactly terrible, it’s just terribly derivative. It’s supposedly the same family – Ralphie, his weird kid brother Randy, his cantankerous old man, and his poor, harried mother – just 5 years later. Of course, it’s all new actors and this time Daniel Stern is playing the old man, and while he’s not bad, he’s not Darren McGavin. It tries really hard to have the same narrative style, but I missed the sarcasm, the nearly dark undertones of the first. This one is clearly a pale imitation, and one that recycles the same jokes: the awful outfit from Aunt Clara, the tongue getting stuck, even the leg lamp makes a comeback. And of course Ralphie’s lusting over that one perfect gift again, only gone are the days when a red ryder BB gun; Ralphie’s grown up and this year, he wants a car (and if you remember his stingy old man, then you know how likely he is to get it). The film even attempts to recreate the fantasy bits which I so loved in the first and quite hated in the second. They’re not just a bad imitation, they’re dragging down an already sub par movie.
Meanwhile, I’m still thinking about that one perfect gift. I never asked for a car or a gun but last year I wrote about the Barbie horse trailer that I always wanted and never got. I got plenty, let me tell you, but there is still one thing that sticks out as The Best Present Ever. It was a pair of Doc Martens – a perfect, special pair chosen just for me that I knew meant my mother had gone to Montreal to get. Those boots wore the scuff marks of nearly every concert I ever attended. I’d often wear them with a short skirt and a looooong jacket. I loved them dearly, both because they were cool boots, and because I knew the trouble my mother had gone to for them. I loved them so dearly they are still in my closet today (they’re a little awkward to scrapbook).
What was your Best Present Ever?