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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

#MovietimeInManhattan @WBD @hbomax @OfficialPeterB Bravo #PeterBillingsley #ChristmasPeachy #HolidayPeachy #ACHRISTMASSTORYCHRISTMAS EARNS WHOM YOU KNOW'S HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION It Debuts on HBO Max on November 17, 2022

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and in this history of Christmas movies and there are many (check out the newest WB Home Entertainment Christmas releases!) there has never been another that we liked as much ever. We will be so bold as to say this iteration is just as good IF NOT BETTER THAN A CHRISTMAS STORY. Good things come to those who wait and the 39-year timespan in between the two disappears the moment the lights go down and this total box office smashing hit lights up. Peter Billingsley is back as everyone's favorite Ralphie and now he is grown up.
The truth is Peachy laughed so hard she cried many times and went through about a dozen Kleenex which is unprecedented behavior in public for her.
Actions speak louder than words, but we know you want words too so we shall continue.

We could not be more thrilled to tell you that Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) is back and better than ever and drum roll please (SPOILER ALERT): HE IS A WRITER!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What could be better than being a writer and an actor or vice versa?  So Fitzgerald-esque, he is writing the next great American novel.  The scenery is just like it used to be and Norman Rockwell perfection throughout.
Less attitude, more gratitude and you should all be grateful for this heartwarmer from Warner Brothers Discovery on HBO Max!
Though the food stylists certainly did their job, we will warn you you are not watching this for the food...have we ever ever ever featured a casserole from a restaurant in our 14-year history?  We don't think so.  Need we say maybe that is a good thing and this movie will help with Holiday dieting.  

The other side of food is drink and we know we have a lot of enthused imbibers reading (see Champagne Wishes for all alcohol) and you are going to wish you could step into the screen and visit Flick's Tavern and actually we hope Peter opens one for real in Manhattan.  Everyone can appreciate the genius of a Shirley Temple and we could go for one about now.  This movie will especially appeal to all ten-year-old budding bartenders.

Note this movie takes place in the 1970s and there are no cell phones, and when the bar phone rings....well all we can say is we laughed quite hard.  For whom the bell tolls indeed!  We can hear Hemingway laughing upstairs.  The comic timing and the quintessential perfection in verbiage throughout make this an eleven on a scale of one to ten.

If one-liners were diamonds, A Christmas Story Christmas would be 47th Street.

And some of the best families have wound up in the Emergency Room on a holiday...we shall give nothing away!  Shiver me timbers for Santa?

Shenanigans indeed ensue throughout and just when you think one cannot be topped you meet THE RAMP and TRIPLE DOG DARING.
Though we have never seen her up close in person, we believe Erinn Hayes who plays Sandy, Ralphie's wife, has a striking resemblance to both Mariska Hargitay and Katharine McPhee (both of whom we have seen up close in person.)

The score is ideal throughout and never takes over the movie but perfectly supports the storyline at all the right places.
From the Star versus Angel to the controversy of Carolers, the universally brilliant all-encompassing American Christmas Themes are going to get you more excited than ever for the Christmas season.  Though everyone has their opinions, the way all that is up for debate (or not!) is presented in such an endearing way you are going to think: RALPHIE FOR PRESIDENT!  Everyone is going to agree on the fun that this movie is and if there's something that can get all of America to agree and be happy with it is A Christmas Story Christmas and nothing has been close to this kind of unity for America in years.
If it's not widely apparent to you yet after 27,000 posts, you ought to know shopping is among our most favorite activities ever ever ever hence Manhattan living!  The shopping moments are priceless.  We are quite sure that Bobby Flay was a big fan of that easy bake oven (and he does such a great job of casting his show audience!) and 1983 was the year of the Cabbage Patch Kid.  We love how this movie is what it wants to be and the moments of lovable irreverence like "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" will make you so happy you are alive.
Finally, Jacques Pepin if you are reading and maybe you are since we just reviewed your magnifique chicken book, you are not going to believe how your favorite ingredient, the egg, is used in this movie!
If you think you watched the last one on repeat, you haven't seen anything yet!
The beauty of a perfect eternal Christmas is achievable A Christmas Story Christmas has shown us, and not only do some things never change but sometimes they come emerge with a more shining patina than ever.
It's the most wonderful time of the year because RALPHIE IS BACK!
A Christmas Story Christmas has earned our Highest Recommendation.
Peter Billingsley and Peachy Deegan

From Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO Max comes the family comedy “A Christmas Story Christmas,” the long-awaited follow-up to annual holiday favorite, “A Christmas Story.” This time, Ralphie is all grown up and must deal with Christmas and all that comes with it…as a dad. Peter Billingsley returns to the role that has made kids of all ages anticipate Christmas morning like no other.
Starring alongside Billingsley as Ralphie Parker are Erinn Hayes (“Bill & Ted Face the Music”) as Ralphie’s wife, Sandy; Julianna Layne (“Prodigal Son”) as their daughter, Julie; River Drosche (“Miracle Workers”) as son Mark; Scott Schwartz returning as Flick; RD Robb returning as Schwartz; Ian Petrella reprising his role as Ralphie’s brother, Randy; Davis Murphy (“Looking for Dr. Love”) as Delbert Bumpus; with Zack Ward returning as Scut Farkus; and Julie Hagerty (“Instant Family”) as Ralphie’s mom, Mrs. Parker.

Clay Kaytis (“The Christmas Chronicles”) directed from a screenplay by Nick Schenk (“Cry Macho”) and Kaytis, screen story by Schenk and Billingsley, based upon the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd. The film’s producers are Irwin Zwilling, Marc Toberoff, Cale Boyter, Jay Ashenfelter, Billingsley and Vince Vaughn, with Mike Drake, Schenk and Peter Dodd serving as executive producers.

Kaytis’s team behind the camera includes director of photography Matthew Clark (“Pitch Perfect 3,” “Mixtape”), production designer Rusty Smith (“Get Out,” “Life of the Party”), editor David Walsh Heinz (“The Call of the Wild”) and costume designer Shay Cunliffe (“Book Club,” “A Dog’s Purpose”). The music is by composer Jeff Morrow.

Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO MAX Present A Legendary Pictures / Wild West Picture Show / Toberoff Production, A Clay Kaytis Film, “A Christmas Story Christmas.” The film will debut on HBO Max on November 17, 2022.


The wait is over! “A Christmas Story Christmas”—the long-awaited follow-up to the enduring favorite that fans everywhere keep on their annual must-watch list—is finally arriving, just in time to kick off the holiday season. This heartwarming and humor-filled next chapter in Ralphie Parker’s tale finds him grown, with a family of his own, determined to create an unforgettable Christmas for his kids. Of course, as is tradition in the Parker household, despite “dad’s” best efforts to make those spirits bright, things go comically awry and hijinks ensue in this endearing, relatable slice of family life.

Peter Billingsley returns to the starring role of Ralphie, a struggling writer who is now head of the Parker household after his dad’s passing. “What took so long?” is the question the actor/producer/co-writer has been asked more times than he can count over the years.

“There was a lot of conversation about doing a sequel much closer to when the original film came out in 1983,” he remembers. “And then, of course, in the early ‘90s… Eventually it seemed like a distant memory, like we’d never be able to do it. But here we are, Ralphie is all grown up, he has his own family, and it’s an opportunity to really take what was so great from the first one and bring so much of that magic back but with a whole new perspective. You see what his dreams are, where his life is now, who his family is. In some ways, waiting this long makes it all the more special because there were so many new characters that we could bring in, and so many of the old fan favorites that we got to explore as well. Always in the back of my mind I’d hoped that this day would come.”

Director Clay Kaytis came on board to helm the film despite his original hesitation that almost prevented him from reading the script. “I received the script and I decided that I was not going to read it because I loved the original movie so much and I thought, ‘There’s no way they could write a movie that will live up to the original.’ Then my wife, who’s a producer, read it for me and she said, ‘This is your next movie,’ so I read it and they had done a really amazing job of figuring out how to craft a follow-up to the story that really integrates everything I loved about the first movie; that was a huge priority for me. Peter and Nick Schenk really figured out a way to make it work, so I went to Legendary and I said to them, ‘I need to direct this movie,’ and luckily they gave me a shot.”

When it came to determining the way into the story—just where Ralphie would be in his life—writer/executive producer Nick Schenk, who hails from the Midwest, offers, “A big part of this movie is the passing of the baton from father to son. Ralphie, though, is like a lot of people who are not ready to grow up. I think secretly, that's the most scary thing a lot of people have to deal with, when you become fully adult. Ralphie's faced with taking on the mantle, really, and he really isn’t prepared for that. In a lot of ways, like a lot of us, at heart he’s still a kid.”

In addition to the character relationships old and new—the actual characters, that is—the writers recognized the importance of pulling in the imaginary ones as well. “One of the characters in the original movie was Black Bart,” Billingsley smiles. “Ralphie envisioned him as a nemesis who raids the house, allowing Ralphie to save the day. Well, the fantasies are back—Ralphie might be older, but he’s still a dreamer!”

To change it up but still serve the fans who loved the original take, he says, “Where that Black Bart was a nod to the cowboy movies of the `40s, we had the idea of doing an homage to the spaghetti westerns of the `70s. I won’t give it away, but there’s a showdown on the street, and Clay shot it very much like they did—the angles, the extreme closeups on the eyes—and all to remind the audience that Ralphie’s fantasies are both fun but also a reflection of what’s got him worried and how he tries to fix things.”

Joining Billingsley in the ensemble are new castmates as well as old. Erinn Hayes stars as Sandy, Ralphie’s wife, alongside River Drosche and Julianna Layne as their young kids, Mark and Julie. And Julie Hagerty steps in as Ralphie’s mom. All are dealing with the loss of Ralphie’s dad a couple of years prior, and this will be the first time Ralphie, Sandy and the kids have ventured back to his hometown—and that iconic house.

Hayes reports, “Sandy keeps Ralph grounded in a way that any committed spouse would by just continually checking in with him, seeing how he's doing day-to-day and taking some things off his plate, trying to be there for him, for the kids, for his mom. She's also suffering the loss of her father-in-law, whom she loved very much, and seeing the pain of her mother-in-law…Sandy sees that she doesn't want to dwell on it, that both Ralph and Mrs. Parker want to focus on Christmas, so that's the commitment that the family makes and that Sandy makes along with them. Her idea is, ‘alright, the way to get through this and the way to help each other is to focus on the task at hand, which is let's have a great Christmas.’”

What Hayes likes best about her character is that “she has a certain ease about her; Sandy seems to roll with the punches. She doesn't get too upset and she can laugh about most things.”

Not all the laughter was prompted by the script or the performances. Layne reveals that her costar Drosche has a playful side off-camera as well. “Well, the most funny moment on set was April Fool’s Day. River came into my trailer and unscrewed all of my lightbulbs, so when I turned on my light, I was like, ‘Why isn’t there a light?’ And so I checked my lightbulbs and was like, ‘Oh, who did this? All my lightbulbs are unscrewed!’”

In addition to enjoying a silly prank, Drosche enjoys a good silly song—especially a classic “holiday” tune kids everywhere, of every age, have tortured their parents with. He tells, “It was really fun when our characters were singing, ‘Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. The Batmobile lost its wheel and the Joker got away [blows raspberry].’”

Of the matriarch of the family, Hagerty says, “I love Mrs. Parker. She’s just downhome, straight-forward. It’s a tough time for her—the kids are coming with the grandkids, she has to sort of put on a brave face, knowing they’re going to have Christmas even though Mr. Parker is no longer with them. So, her whole thing is sort of trying to disguise for the kids her feelings of loss. But then, the beauty of the kids coming, celebrating together, seeing her grandchildren, is the support. And to remember that Christmas is the most important holiday. This movie and story is full of hope, growth, and family, and I think it’s really wonderful and full of heart.”

Hagerty says accepting the role was easy. “I decided to join because who wouldn’t?” she laughs. “To be a part of the next generation of ‘A Christmas Story,’ which is once again full of that love, warmth and sweetness, and hilarious humor and family. It’s a really wonderful family movie that everyone can see together, like the original, so it’s really unique to be part of that.”

No sequel would be complete without the return of Ralphie’s friends and foes and, of course, his little brother. Ian Petrella reprises the role of Randy, along with Scott Schwartz back as Flick, RD Robb as Schwartz, and Zack Ward returning as Scut Farkus.

Of coming back to the gang, Petrella begins, “Randy was really just kind of like the R2-D2 of ‘A Christmas Story’ in that he kind of went around and made noises and fell down and was there for comic relief. So, to come up with what did Randy turn into? I mean, he could’ve been anything, really, so the fact that he’s grown into who he is now I think will be a great surprise... It was for me!”

Schwartz says of returning to the story as well as his character, Flick, “It's 30 years later, and you don't know what happened to these guys, so now it’s, ‘Here we go, this is what happened,’ which is great, especially for the fans.” To “research” the role wasn’t difficult at all for the actor. “Flick's running his own tavern and is a bartender, and I've had friends, best friends, for decades who were bar owners. My friend Bobby had a bar in Jersey, I used to go there all the time, so I knew what it was like. I thought, ‘Okay, this is cool.’ And it fits Flick's sense of humor and his way about life to become a bar owner—nine-to-five would not have been his job!”

Robb’s character, Schwartz, takes quite a turn in the film—this time it’s him, not Flick, who accepts a dangerous dare, this time involving not a frozen flagpole, but a ramp. Though perfectly safe, the actor admits he was trepidatious. “It looked pretty scary!” he laughs. “We had a rehearsal, so I could see it and feel it and I thought, ‘Oh, wow. I’m gonna be going down that?’ And Clay, the director said, ‘Whatever you’re comfortable with.’ I had a lot of questions about the rigging and where the wires would be attached. So, I climbed the steps to the top and we did a run, but before they sent me down I told the stunt coordinator, ‘Half speed, half speed!’ and down I went. It was fun, the fear went away, but then I stood at the bottom and watched my stunt double go down full speed, and I thought, ‘Oh, man, that’s fast.” Scott and Zack were there egging me on, ‘Yeah, Buddy, you look like my Grandpa up there,” So, a few days later we went to camera and did it for real. I said to the stunt coordinator, ‘Full speed, like my double.’ I wanted it for performance. I got set, they called ‘Action,’ I screamed ‘Geronimo!’ and they let me fly. It was scary, I had to steer at that speed to keep the sled straight, but it was really fun. I went down a handful more times and felt like a pro by the time Clay got what he needed. In the end. I could've done it all day!”

Ward’s return as Ralphie’s childhood nemesis Scut Farkus is sure to surprise and delight fans. Keeping the details under wraps, Ward says he’s glad that the sequel’s filmmakers understood “you have to give [the original] the respect that it deserves, so I'm very grateful that they took their time and appreciated how important it was to match the quality and heart of what Bob Clark and Jean Shepherd created in the first film. Playing Scut Farkus in ‘A Christmas Story’ has changed my life. Every Christmas, I’m on TVs all over America and, as I do charity events for the Alzheimer’s Association, everywhere I go I’m greeted like a long lost family member—complete strangers want to give me a hug! It's an incredible superpower that I have for about a week and a half out of the year,” he grins. “It hard to imagine what my life would be without ‘A Christmas Story.’ I feel very blessed and grateful to be part of something so precious and beloved by so many. I’m excited for fans to see the new film and fall in love with their favorite characters all over again.”

In addition to the returning cast, Davis Murphy joins, bridging the old and new as Delbert Bumpus—offspring of the Parkers’ infamous, dog-loving neighbors.

Production on “A Christmas Story Christmas” took place not in an Indiana suburb, or in Cleveland where the original house still stands as a museum, but in Bulgaria. In designing and capturing the scenes with production designer Rusty Smith, costume designer Shay Cunliffe and director of photography Matt Clark, director Kaytis was thrilled to create something that was not only new—despite the story taking place in the `70s—but that also leaned into the beloved nostalgia of the original.

“Every sequence is not only part of the overall story, but really has a different story to tell as well—Ralphie’s story,” Kaytis says. “Each sequence together adds up to this bigger picture, and every day of filming was a different, exciting challenge, whether we were having snowball fights or sledding, the ramp challenge or shopping at Higbee’s or caroling. It was really cool that every day gave us something new, and we dropped in a handful of Easter eggs as a nice nod to the original.”

Billingsley reflects on the new film coming just in time to kick off the holiday season, which, to him and his fellow cast and crew, is itself a long-desired gift. “Christmas is a magical day for families. Kids look forward to it, and the truth is adults look forward to it, too. It is unlike any other feeling, I think, that day. Families are together and there’s nothing that’s more important than that, than being present and grateful for the things that you have. So much of this movie is just that, this magical, fun and uniquely funny Christmas story, with the beauty of the cinematography and design creating that visual sense that feels familiar and evokes those feelings that we all have on Christmas, that no matter how bad things are, it’s Christmas and you’re with the people you love, and there’s no better place to be.”

PETER BILLINGSLEY (Ralphie Parker / Producer / Co-writer) has, throughout a career spanning four decades, achieved success both in front and behind the camera, producing such films as the first Iron Man, The Break-Up, Four Christmases, and directing the Vince Vaughn starrer Couples Retreat. He currently serves as executive producer of the Netflix series F is For Family starring Bill Burr and Laura Dern, and recently wrapped the Dennis Quaid feature Broke.

Billingsley began his acting career at the age of three, in some of the '70s most memorable television commercials, and became a pop culture icon when he played Ralphie in A Christmas Story. Today, he runs Wild West Productions with actor/producer Vince Vaughn. Billingsley has been nominated for three Emmys and a Tony Award and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

CLAY KAYTIS (Director) is a writer-director who started his career at Walt Disney Animation Studios as an animation intern and 19 years later was head of its animation department. Kaytis left Disney to direct THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE, which grossed over $350 million worldwide, becoming Sony's best performing film of 2016. This was followed by his live action directing debut, THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES, starring Kurt Russell for Netflix. The family adventure instantly became a Christmas hit for the streamer with over 20 million views in the first week and spawned the sequel, THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2, which Kaytis executive produced. Kaytis returned to animation to direct two PEANUTS specials for Apple TV+ before taking on his latest live-action film, A CHRISTMAS STORY CHRISTMAS.

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