Why doesn't this movie work? I'm not sure. Just like A Christmas Story, it has a script by Bob Clark Jean Shepherd, along with his narration and Clark's direction. It's based on Shepherd's fictionalized memoirs of his childhood. It has dandy period details. And yet . . . it just doesn't come up to the standards of the (much) earlier film.
Charles Grodin plays The Old Man, and he's fine, but the character's not quite the same one that Darren McGavin played in A Christmas Story. Or maybe Grodin just doesn't get the nuances right. Mary Steenburgen is the mother, and she's fine, too. The original mom, Melinda Dillon looked a lot like her. A couple of Culkin kids play Ralphie and his little brother. They don't come up to the originals at all. Anyone who's read the stories, as I have, will recognize them immediately. The Bumpus family figures prominently, as do top spinning, movie giveaway nights, and crappie fishing. All well and good, but the end result is just an okay little movie without the special magic of A Christmas Story. Worth watching if you want to see more adventures of the Parker family, but don't expect too much.