A Christmas Story Live
December 4, 2018
(The Channel Awesome logo and the title sequence are shown)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it-
(Suddenly, he abruptly gets up from his seat and the room goes black)
NC: I summon thee, Christmas!
(He holds up a Christmas sword, the handle of which is done up in candy cane style. A blast of energy appears from the tip of the sword. It charges up, and then NC's clothes are given a Christmas makeover: mostly blue with white snowflakes, reindeer and zigzags on them)
NC: (dramatically) Ho, ho, ho! (sits back down and speaks normally) There! I did a nice little Christmas intro and nobody got hurt, no worlds blew up or anything. Everything is good. (Suddenly, he hears the sound of screaming) I don't hear that. (He then hears the sound of explosions) I don't hear that either. Whatever it is, I'm sure it had nothing to do with my Christmas intro. (The sound of a T-Rex roaring is heard next) How is that even possible?! Anyway, let's talk about live shows.
(We see some pictures from live shows as his explanation goes on, including one from Hairspray Live)
NC (vo): Since pretty much the dawn of television, live shows have been a very regular thing. But they’ve had a bit of an explosion these past five years. Shows like The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood, Peter Pan with Christopher Walken and The Wiz with Queen Latifah have been raking in big numbers for NBC. Clearly because they were good, right?
(We see a scene from Peter Pan Live where Walken is drinking with his crew)
Captain Hook (Walken): Oh, yeah.
(The rest of the scene is them laughing and clearing their throats, which leaves NC in an awkward position to comment on this)
NC: Awkward kitsch is a kind of good.
NC (vo): Not wanting to be left out of the musical equivalent of Dogs Playing Poker, Fox decided to throw their head into the ring with Grease Live! with Vanessa Hudgens and the Rocky Horror Picture Show with Laverne Cox. The specials apparently did well enough to warrant what Fox was hoping to be their crowning achievement of hokeyness.
NC: Because Lord knows (The poster for Christmas Story 2 appears) we haven't made it hokey enough already, A Christmas Story.
(The title for A Christmas Story Live is shown, followed by its clips. The song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" plays in the background)
NC (vo): In America's need to destroy this movie, A Christmas Story Live does its best to turn that small-town innocent family classic with a hint of an edge into a tacky singing Hallmark card covered in falling glitter with an unfunny joke inside. But where a card only gives you a second of annoyance, this one delivers 2 hours and 15 minutes of cyanide fruitcake!
NC: And that's without commercials. With commercials, it's three goddamn hours!
NC (vo): This special is like a forgettable ugly sweater that someone paid millions of dollars to glamour up, creating an even more forgettable ugly sweater. It's the kind of special that rips out what was charming and fresh from the original and replaces it with what Google Translate would interpret as charming and fresh. It's a miserable experience from beginning to end, so let's look it over from beginning to end.
NC: This is why Christmas can't have nice things. Let's take a look at Christmas Story Live.
(The movie jumps right into a musical number for the opening credits. The opening song is called "Count on Christmas" by Bebe Rexha, who sings in the foreground while some people are dancing behind her)
Bebe Rexha: (singing) You're bundled up, got a blizzard coming on the way...
NC: (confused) Um, I'll try this again. Let's take a look at Christmas Story Live.
(Back to the same song, where the sound mixing took a terrible turn, as you'll have problems understanding some of the lyrics, which are overshadowed by the music)
Bebe Rexha: (singing) Coming back home to the old address...
NC: Okay, my bad, I seem to have put on Old Navy Presents: A Camp Rock Christmas. (leans his head into the right direction) What's that? Ah. The fictional person I'm pretending is off-camera to make this joke work is telling this is, in fact, A Christmas Story.
(Long beat as he nods, before we cut back to the musical number)
NC (vo): Don't know how I didn't recognize that! I mean, Christ, literally the first scene is 100% wrong. It took effort to be this wrong!
NC: It's like starting off a Christmas classic everybody knows like this!
(Cut to a scene from Full Metal Jacket)
Prostitute: (to Joker and Rafterman) Me so horny. Me so horny.
(Suddenly the scene pauses and the intro from It's a Wonderful Life starts playing over the scene)
NC: Well, now I feel obligated to say this: (The scene appears again) Don't do that, Fox! We actually know you would now!
(Back to the song we see...multiple women dancing in the pink bunny pajamas in the background)
NC (vo): So after trying to make Ralphie's bunny pajama somehow hot...
NC: (rubs his right temple) We bizarrely have enough sexy rabbits, thank you.
(As he says that, six picture of bunnies, who were made way too attractive both figuratively and literally, are shown. Clockwise: Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Carrot from One Piece, Lola from Space Jam, Babs Bunny in a dress from Tiny Toons, a Playboy bunny and Judy Hopps from Zootopia. Back to the special, we're shown people preparing and shopping for Christmas, children playing in the snow, etc.)
NC (vo): Something kind of resembling A Christmas Story finally starts, and at first, I will admit: it is impressive to think this is all done live. The shots, the visuals, the movement, the timing; this would all be difficult to do on its own, taking out that you have to get it done on the first take.
NC: But sadly, it's narrated by an actor who's known for giving a performance like it's his first take...
(The grown-up Ralphie, aka the onscreen narrator, is played by Matthew Broderick)
NC (vo): ...Matthew "He was good in that one thing!" Broderick. Broderick's entire performance is the most constant reminder that this is live, because he's so incredibly awkward that, you'd swear, rather than creating emotion first and racing against the clock second, he's racing against the clock first and creating emotion never.
Narrator: (various clips) I had renewed reason for optimism. Santa was on the case. / I'd heard a lot of "no" in the past three weeks from no less than Santa himself. / Lake Michigan was so polluted, you could run halfway to Milwaukee before you sank to the bottom. / Here it is, here it is. The house on Cleveland Street. / Ah, Higbees. The high-water mark of the pre-Christmas season.
NC (vo): Everything he says is like (shot of...) the flower shop scene from The Room. Any human feeling accidentally entering the equation is clearly an indirect by-product!
Narrator: For months, I'd been thinking of the Red Ryder and nothing else. Now here it was, the real thing.
NC: (imitating Dr. Tatopolous from Godzilla (1998)) That's a lot of shit.
(We're reintroduced to the Parker family at their house)
NC (vo): Maya Rudolph plays Ralphie's mom, and Ralphie is played by Andy Walken. No relation to Christopher Walken that I know of, yet somehow he still inherited every one of his scary faces.
Ralphie: (singing and being very expressive with his facial movements) Don't seem desperate, or you're done!
NC: Okay. Before I go too harsh on this kid...he is a kid, and he's still learning. And to his credit, he's been in a lot of other stuff.
(The posters for the Netflix movie The Most Hated Woman in America and the ABC show The Kids Are Alright)
NC (vo): Movies, a steady gig on a TV show...
NC: I legitimately hope his talent grows and he has a nice long career. (Beat) But when you put that kid...
NC (vo): ...in eye-warping glasses with frames so black, even Tim Burton would say, "Too dark", on a live show where you can't always get the best lighting, flattering camera angles, and you're encouraged to come across big and silly...
NC: Unchecked...that kid can be terrifying.
NC (vo): Look at the way the shadow hits his eyes. He looks like Harry Potter turning into Gollum!
NC: Did you know the same director of A Christmas Story also directed (poster of...) Black Christmas? You would, if you put...
NC (vo): ...these shots of that kid in both of them!
NC: Okay. Well, let's hope his singing can balance things out.
Ralphie: (singing as Mr. Parker, aka the Old Man, returns home) And then there's mother, she can be tough. / (The voice cracks there) I'll drop a couple hints...
NC: (stunned, with a frozen nervous smile) He's really good in The Kids Are Alright.
NC (vo): Anyway, he's just a little boy. What's Broderick's excuse?
(In Raphie's imagine spot of getting the Red Ryder BB Gun (the screen is cropped to the 2.35:1 aspect ratio), the narrator is dressed in a cowboy attire)
Narrator: That's right, boys. Take it from me, me! If you want to keep your homestead free of villains, I give you old blue!
NC: (as the narrator) Oh, one of these days, the Blue Fairy will come and make me a real actor.
NC (vo): There's nothing wrong with your monitor, by the way. The aspect ratio keeps changing. I'm assuming this is whenever there's a fantasy Ralphie is having... (Cut back to the opening music number with Bebe Rexia and the dancers in bunny costumes, which also has the 2:35:1 aspect ratio) ...which means there must have been some confusing thoughts he was going through when these women came out in his PJs.
Ralphie: (finishing the song by looking at the camera, which moves towards him) ...Guuuuuuun...!
(NC screams at this sudden jump scare)
NC: Okay, look, kid, I really hope one day, you can look back and be like, "Remember Christmas Story Live? Wasn't that funny how much that didn't work and I didn't belong there? But now, I'm a huge star, making millions and everybody loves me! Ha-ha! I can look back and laugh now! It's funny! Ha-ha-ha!" But for right now...AAAAAHHHH!!!
(This bit is repeated. The special briefly stops, as we're shown the crew of Fire Station 101 in San Pedro standing in front of the church as a tribute to them for being the first to react to the fall 2017 wildfires in California)
NC (vo): The special is interrupted by a nice recognition of the first responders to last year's California wildfires.
Andy Walken: (offscreen) Please join us in honoring the first responders who put their lives on the line to serve and protect us all.
NC: But I'll admit, it's a little muddied, where immediately after, instead of promoting a wildfire charity you can give to...
(A pop-up message appears above, which states that upon tweeting "#AChristmasStoryLive", the person will receive the special lamp as an emoji)
NC (vo): ...it instead pushes a special Twitter emoji if you tweet their hashtag.
NC: (waves off) Oh, heck with those wildfires. (takes out a phone and eagerly types on it) I want that emoji!
(Much to NC's horror, it's Ralphie's face from the previous song number, and he screams)
NC: I deserved that.
(Ralphie and his younger brother Randy (Tyler Wladis) are running down the stairs into the kitchen)
NC (vo): If you've seen the original a lot, this'll seem familiar. Ralphie drops hints that he wants a BB Gun, the father fights with the furnace, (Mr. Parker enters the kitchen with ashes on his left cheek) the furnace...slaps him, I guess, and legitimately good improv overshadows this prop malfunction.
(Mr. Parker takes a seat at the breakfast table to check his mail, as the clock abruptly falls down from the door)
Mr. Parker (Chris Diamantopoulos): Let me look at the bills. The bills, the bills, the bills, the bills. (sees the fallen clock) Would you get that, honey, please? (stands up and gets the clock himself, handing it to his wife) Oh, what is this here? Yeah, yeah, all we got are bills.
NC: My God, that was the only part of the musical that actually felt genuine.
NC (vo): It felt real and not forcibly overblown. Much like the original.
NC: So, the only part of A Christmas Story Live that actually felt like A Christmas Story was literally by accident.
NC (vo): There's a profound zen riddle in there somewhere, but it's distracted by another shitty song number. This one's about crosswords.
NC: (slams his fist on the table) Of course, that's what was missing from the original.
(As Parker prepares the letter, the kitchen changes into a game show about crosswords with the narrator as the host)
Announcer: Back to your favorite quiz show Are You a Genius?
NC (vo): (as bars are edited in on top and bottom of the scene) And where's the bars on this one? It was in all of the other fantasies, why isn't it in this one? Are we supposed to assume this isn't a fantasy and there is actually a game show going on in his kitchen?
NC (vo): Eh, about as much as Broderick's line delivery here isn't the loudest cry for help this musical can muster.
Narrator: With Rinso, it’s easy to pretend everything's fine.
NC: (nods, smiling) Production denial never felt so benign.
Narrator: Tinker Bell's pal, forever a boy...Peter?
Mr. Parker: Peter. Yeah, I've got three letters?
Mr. Parker: Yeah, Peter, uh, Piper-picked-a-peck-of-pickled-peppers. (As he fails this simple question, his wife in the audience takes out a pan as a visual help) Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. That's not gonna fit...
NC: (rests his head on his hand) Yeah, he's definitely gonna win with that encyclopedia knowledge.
(We then cut to the playground, where the bullies Scut Farkus (Sascha Carlson) and Grover Dill (Elie Samouhi) are entering the playground through an opening in the fence, followed by the narrator)
NC (vo): Here's the intro to the bullies and, again, listen to the original narrator, the author of the book, talk about these people as if they were real, compared to a professional world-famous actor who does this for a living.
(Cut to the introduction scene from the original movie with the narrator (Jean Shepherd) giving it his all)
Narrator: Scut Farkus, what a rotten name. Staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes. So help me, God, yellow eyes.
(Back to the musical, where the narrator still sounds like a perfectionist of monotone line deliveries)
Narrator: Scut Farkus, even his name sounded mean and dirty. And Farkus had yellow eyes. I swear he did.
NC: But, to be fair, Broderick was paid a lot of money to do this and the author only did it because he wanted to.
(The kids are doing the next song "When You're a Wimp" while running in circles with Randy in the middle)
Kids: (singing) When you're a wimp! / When you're a wimp!
NC (vo): We get a song about how rotten the bullies are, and the more I watch, the more I realize the songs themselves actually aren't that bad for what they are. They have good melodies and clever lyrics, but they belong in a big over-the-top production, which is not what Christmas Story was ever meant to be. (Scenes from the original movie play) They were little scenes that felt real because they were little. It's like the brother crying in the kitchen. That's so sweet and feels so real, because it's allowed to be a smaller moment. (Back to the musical) I feel like here, if they did that scene, they'd just be like...
NC: (singing a parody of Under the Sea) Under the sink! / Under the sink!
(We then cut into Ralphie's classroom with their teacher Miss Shields teaching them)
NC (vo): But they make up for that with comic gold like the teacher, played by Jane Krakowski, being obsessive-compulsive.
Ms. Shields: (corrects the angle of her book to be identical to that of the table) Our first activity of the day will be... (corrects the position of her quill so that the feather looks in her direction)
NC: What you saw adds nothing to anything and should've been left put. Our apologies.
Narrator: If I could get Ms. Shields to sympathize with my plight, she might phone my mother and implore her to get me that gun.
NC: (concerned, shakes his head) That doesn't sound cryptic at all!
NC (vo; as Ralphie): Those assholes that own me that drug money will pay! Nobody messes with Gangster Ralphie! (deeper impression) Nobody!
(The next music number is "Ralphie to the Rescue", which of course plays in a Wild West setting to fit with the motive of getting that BB gun. Ms. Shields is working for a bank, the other students are civilians and Ralphie is the sheriff, protecting them against bank robbers)
Ralphie: (singing) Ralphie to the rescue, oh!
NC (vo): He has another fantasy about saving people with his BB Gun. Again, not a bad number on its own, (The fantasy from the original is shown with a caption showing the time it needed to play, before going back to the musical with a caption showing its time) but in the original, it's short and sweet, only 2 minutes. In this version it's six, six minutes of this! It's so long, boring and pointless, I almost pray there would be a screw-up to make things more interesting!
Ralphie: But I think that everyone should have a... (You hear the sound of a stagehand giving directions on another set in the background, briefly distracting Andy Walken) Red Ryder BB Gun...
NC: (as Ralphie) Oh, sorry! The mics in my fantasy forgot to turn off.
NC (vo): We then follow that fantasy with... (Ms. Shields is writing on the board, it's shot like one of Ralphie's fantasies) another fantasy.
NC: Yeah, remember how they were spaced out in the original? Stupid.
(Now we're back at Ralphie's place, where his mother starts singing "What a Mother Does")
NC (vo): As now the mother gets a song about being a mother. And boy, does she do a great impersonation of Russell Crowe from Les Mis.
(And we are now treated to Mrs. Parker's singing, which is completely off-key)
Mrs. Parker: (singing) The floors have been scrubbed like a woman possessed, and we're steady and stable...
NC: (surprised and shocked by how bad it is) Oh, wow.
Mrs. Parker: (singing) And piles of paper appearing right out of thin air... (in another snippet) Because that's what a mother does.
NC (vo): I didn't know you could go through two puberties, or that your voice could crack three times while it happens.
Mrs. Parker: (singing) The very best Christmas there ever was!
(NC shudders and clings his fists together to stay calm. Throughout this line's singing, he wants to say something and raises his finger, but changes his mind)
Mrs. Parker: (singing) That's what a mother...does.
NC: ...Excuse me for a minute, I need to go back where I was talking about Ralphie's singing.
(He stands up and leaves his place to the left side. We cut back in time to the moment where he criticized Ralphie's singing)
NC (past): He's really good in The Kids Are Alright.
(Suddenly the NC from the present pops in, confusing NC of the past)
NC (present): But he does sing better than Maya Rudolph! (goes away)
NC (past): I'm assuming that'll make sense later.
(We go to a commercial. After returning, we're shown Mrs. Parker receiving a letter from the narrator dressed as the mailman)
NC (vo): So the father gets a letter saying he won a major award from a contest. As you probably remember, they build up this joke the entire day as to what it could be... (The wooden crate is brought in seconds after this) ...or it just comes immediately after the letter.
NC: Then what the hell is the point of the letter?
Narrator: (taking a role of the loader) All right, boys. Haul it in.
Mr. Parker: Yeah, but-but-but-but what is it?
Narrator: Beats me.
NC: (as the narrator) I mean, I know what it is, I just stopped caring in this production.
(The family examines the crate)
NC (vo): They say all the lines you're waiting for them to recite like math problems being repeated at school...
Mr. Parker: (mispronouncing "fragile") Fra-gee-lay.
NC (vo): Yeah, "fra-gee-lay", yeah, yeah, yeah...and once again, we get almost no break going from one song number into another!
(Mr. Parker and his neighbors dance in unison outside)
Mr. Parker: (singing) It's a major award! / I won a major award!
NC: I will give this dude credit: he can at least...
(The camera moves really close to Mr. Parker, showing only his head, and in almost a minute, after it zooms out, he is already in tuxedo. The "behind the scenes" video shows that the actor's jacket was taken off and quickly replaced by a tuxedo)
NC (vo): ...really sing and dance, as well as perform an impressive quick change in one shot without seeing any of the people switching him out of the clothes, as you can see this in the behind-the-scenes footage. Of course, it does leave an awkward visual for people at home, reinforcing that the special is, in fact, trying to eat you whenever it can. And the rest of the number is...what's the word I'm looking for?...heinous.
(Mr. Parker continues his dancing, but it's now a big stage number with female back-up)
Chorus: (singing) He won a major award! He won a major award!
(NC isn't amused at all)
NC: You know, over sixty years ago, they actually ran another live Christmas special. It was an opera called Amahl and the Night Visitors.
(The clips from this Gian Carlo Menotti opera which was broadcast live on NBC on December 24, 1951, are shown)
NC (vo): It was about the three wise men visiting a woman and her disabled child on their journey, and the mother thinks about stealing the gold to help her child, who has never been shown any love by the rest of the world.
NC: Here's a clip of that scene. For no particular reason.
(As the caption "Over 60 Years Ago" appears below, this clip is shown: Amahl's mother (Rosemary Kuhlmann) sees the cup full of gold which is covered by a hand of one of the sleeping kings)
Mother: (singing) Oh, what I could do for my child with that gold! / Why should it all go to a child they don’t even know? / (slowly and silently approaches the cup) For my child...for my child...for my child...
(In a stark contrast, we abruptly cut back to the "Major Award" number from the 2017 special, with the caption "The New Golden Age of Television" appearing)
Chorus: (singing) Genius on Cleveland Street! / How can...
NC: (grins) God, I hope you feel as dirty as I do!
(The Parkers are shown buying a tree from a market)
NC (vo): They go to a Christmas tree farm, owned by Ken Jeong...
NC: ...Who in check can be funny, but in something like Christmas Story Live?
Christmas Tree Man: Tall trees, short trees, green trees...pastries. (laughs) It is... a little Christmas tree humor.
NC: Well, it's no (picture of...) Deep Wang, but few things are. (Pause) Thank God.
(The Parkers sing "Joy to the World" in their car, but, as the camera shows, the background isn't moving at all)
NC (vo): Why, this is the happiest non-moving car ride I've ever seen!
(A sound of tire popping is heard, and Mr. Parker and Ralphie go to check it out)
NC (vo): They get a flat from remaining perfectly still, and if you know the original, you know the following scene fits this special's tone like a glove made of thorns.
Ralphie: (after losing the tire out of his hands, sobbing briefly) Fuuuuuuudge.
Narrator: (offscreen, sounding almost exhausted) But I didn't say fudge. I said the word.
NC: Because, again, in the original, they talked like real kids, real parents, real situations.
(The same moment from the original film is shown briefly)
NC (vo): So a scene like this really works in the environment they created. Here, it's like somebody's saying "bitch" in Annie! (A shot of the main character from the 1982 film Annie is shown, with a speech bubble with a word "Bitch!" edited in) It doesn't match in the slightest!
NC: Not that I wouldn't mind seeing that in Annie, but...
(Mr. Parker reports this incident to his wife, whispering in her ear)
NC (vo): Now, this is how you do a convincing scream take.
Mrs. Parker: (as the camera zooms in on her) RALPHIIIIIIIEEE!!
(The infamous clip from Troll 2 is shown)
Arnold: Oh, my GOOOOOOOD!
NC: Well, I think we all know what's up next. Schwartz's mom talking about spelling test.
(Schwartz and his mother are shown talking in their kitchen)
Schwartz (Sammy Ramirez): Is this because I failed that spelling test?
Mrs. Schwartz (Ana Gasteyer): My heart is broken enough.
Schwartz: But the words were hard. "Believe" and "receive".
Mrs. Schwartz: "I" before "E" except after "C".
NC: Did we get intercepted by another musical? What's going on?!
Schwartz: How is it your fault?
Mrs. Schwartz: How is it not?
(The loud orchestra blaring is heard, as we wipe to Ralphie being dragged home by his parents to wash his mouth with soap)
Mrs. Parker: Get in the house!
NC (vo): Oh, sorry. We got interrupted by the original special we started out with.
NC: At this point, I'd prefer the spelling test.
Narrator: (outside the house) It was over, I was dead. What would it be? The guillotine, a hanging, the electric chair, drawn and quartered, water torture?
NC: (nods) Yeah, you really sound concerned, Broderick. You talk about different ways of being killed like you're picking out nuts.
Narrator: The guillotine, a hanging, the electric chair...
NC: (as the narrator) What should I choose? The peanuts, the cashews, the almonds?
(Ralphie says he heard "the word" from Schwartz, so Mrs. Parker calls Mrs. Schwartz on her phone. The call is shown via split-screen)
NC (vo): He says he heard the word from Schwartz, and to Schwartz's mother's credit, played by Ana Gasteyer, she mimics the original flawlessly.
(A clip of the telephone conversation from the original is shown)
Mrs. Parker: He heard it from your son!
Mrs. Schwartz: (via phone, shrieking) What?! What?! WHAAAAAAT?!
(Cut back to the 2017 special)
Mrs. Parker: He heard it from your son!
Mrs. Schwartz: (actually sounding similar to the movie) What?! What?! Whaaaat?!
NC: (clutches his head) That sounded like actual Christmas Story for a minute! (waves hands to the side) Take it away!
(Ralphie goes to Schwartz's house to apologize for putting part of the blame on him, and he meets Mrs. Schwartz there)
NC (vo): We can't have that in this musical! Do the opposite! Sing a song about Hanukkah or something!
(The new song composed for this special begins, as outside the house, Mrs. Schwartz is conducting while the row of people, including Ralphie, dance around the yard forming a menorah)
Mrs. Schwartz: (singing) Lai, la-lai, la-la-la-lai, la-lai...
NC (vo): Oh, come on!
NC: That was a joke! There's really song about Hanukkah in this?!
NC (vo; sighs): Yep. Right the hell out of nowhere, after Ralphie apologizes to Schwartz, she bursts out singing a song about Hanukkah.
Mrs. Schwartz: (singing) I think ev'ry Jew in this whole state / Is here inside our home!
(We're shown a clip from Christmas at Pee-Wee's Playhouse)
Mrs. Rene: Come on, everybody! It's the Hanukkah portion of the show!
Mrs. Schwartz: (singing) [If you're in the] market for a miracle, / Now we're serving...
NC: Now, look. Learning about another religion's traditions are fine, but...
NC (vo): ...A: there's enough filler in this already, B: it's adding to the already torturous running time, and C: it's called A Christmas Story! If I went into (poster of...) Easter Parade, and they spontaneously sang about Kwanzaa, it wouldn't really fit!!
Mrs. Schwartz: (singing) Raise a glass to the Israelites!
Mrs. Schwartz: (singing) Livin' it up for eight crazy nights!
NC: (slams the table) You know what? Strike that! I'm learning so much more about Hanukkah in this one song...
NC (vo): ...that I have about Christmas in this entire special!
NC: Goddamn, lehayim!
(In the school, Ms. Shields sees that one girl, Mary Beth, is still in her class)
NC (vo): Hi. Who the hell are you?
Mary Beth (Hayley Shukiar): Oh, Miss Shields, I've got all my Christmas letters to write. I write special messages to every one of my friends and relatives.
Ms. Shields: I'll teach you how to type. (They leave)
NC: (doesn't know what to add at this point) ...Sucks. Uh, look, we've already had this special...
(A scene of Schwartz and his mother talking is shown again)
NC (vo): ...confiscated by other specials.
NC: We really don't need another one.
NC (vo): Can we please get back to... (Cut to the playground, where Ralphie tries to apologize to Schwartz again) Okay, thank you.
Flick (JJ Batteast): Schwartz's mom heard you apologize?
NC: Oh, wait! Now I really want to analyze this! Why the hell was that scene in this story?!
NC (vo): It had nothing to do with the characters, it had nothing to do with the plot...
NC: (slaps his head) Oh, God, what am I doing?! Just get this over with!
(Farkus dares Flick to lick the pole, and after hesitating, he does so and gets stuck...or not yet, apparently, as seconds later, the tongue is briefly let go of the pole)
NC (vo): As you probably guessed, this scene had to happen at some point. Flick gets his tongue stuck on the pole. Twice.
(Ms. Shields sees that Flick didn't go to the next lesson)
Ms. Shields: Class, what is going on?
Children: (begin singing) Well, you can't confess a thing or you'll get busted. / If you're...
NC: (as Ms. Shields) You know, singing your crime doesn't make me hear it any less. You all have detention!
(The school's staff frees Flick's tongue from the pole. Later, Ralphie discovers his report's mark: C+)
NC (vo): They get him off the pole and they go on with their day, as Ralph finds he gets a C+ on his report.
(Farkus and Dill enter the class dressed as 1940s gangsters...what?)
Farkus: Look at that. He really got the C+. (Dill laughs)
Farkus and Dill: (clicking fingers) C+! C+!
NC: All in favor of skipping this song? (All hands go up) Thank you, Christmas miracles.
(He presses an offscreen button on the table to fast forward this snippet)
NC: Wait, I should see if there's anything of potential value...
(Another fantasy is shown with Ms. Shields performing a musical number on stage in skimpy clothing, while the other students play the instruments/dance in background)
Ms. Shields: (singing) You'll shoot your eye out... (tap dances)
NC: No. Mere crap.
(He fast forwards this number as well. Back to the normal speed, Farkus and Dill appear on the playground to just taunt Ralphie)
NC (vo): So the bullies drop by again, and in a fascinatingly botched moment...
NC: (chuckles) I know, so few.
(Tired of everything Farkus has done, Ralphie charges at him and they get into a fight. This scene in the original film is shown to compare)
NC (vo): ...Ralphie just attacks him, for literally no reason. In the original, the bully hit him with a snowball, breaking his glasses. It hurt, he was crying. He was afraid of his father's wrath, a father he loved but he was kind of afraid of. And on top of that, he was mocked endlessly. It was perfectly built up, so you felt like you would attack, too. But here, he's just called names! Nothing else! The bullies called him names all throughout the special; if anything, he kind of looks insane just randomly attacking him at this point.
NC: (as a scary shot of Ralphie singing to the camera appears again) More than usual.
(Mrs. Parker stops the fight and takes Ralphie away from school, removing her son's glasses. Ralphie explains everything to her)
NC (vo): But he breaks them immediately afterwards, and the mother sings about how things are gonna be okay.
NC: Well, singing is such a...strong word.
(The next song is "Just Like That", and it is performed by Mrs. Parker, still off-key at various points)
Mrs. Parker: (singing) Notice how the world keeps turning... / And you're back to jumping, laughing... / And they're gone, crazy, messy moments...
NC: (shifts eyes nervously) Um... Good job there. That was, uh...definitely breathing with words coming out. I-I-I couldn't have done that. I mean, I'm doing it now, but, I...the way you did it, I... I definitely couldn't do that.
Narrator: (standing in the kitchen) From then on, things were different between my mother and me.
NC: (as the narrator) Neither of us ever sung again. We shared a bond.
(At Higbee's department store, Ralphie is let to the mall Santa, played this time by David Alan Grier)
NC (vo): Next, they go to the mall to visit Santa, played by David Alan Grier.
Mall Elves: (singing and dancing cheerfully) Catch the season spirit at Higbee's!
NC: (making an "OK" gesture sarcastically) You nailed the spirit of the original. The elves here...
Mall Elves: (singing) We've stocked the shelves with tons of toys to take your breath away!
NC: And the elves from the movie.
(In the original film, Ralphie and the other kids are almost violently dragged to the Santa's stand)
Female Elf: Quit dragging your feet!
Lead Elf: Hurry up, the store's closing.
Female Elf: Come on!
NC: It's like the movie's looking into a mirror that can't sing.
(In the special, one kid is pushed from a slide by the elves)
Mall Santa: And get me a towel!
Lead Elf: Towel. (hands it over)
Kid: Santa! Santa!
Mall Santa: I'm not your imaginary friend! I got my limits!
NC: I think that's what TV Guide...
NC (vo): ...actually said about this special. (The mall Santa's quote appears as if it came from TV Guide's review)
(Ralphie climbs up the slide to insist on asking the BB Gun, but Santa pushes him away with his foot)
NC (vo): Ralph gets up there, and just like in the original, he's told he'll shoot his eye out.
Mall Santa: (to a lead elf) I love this job. (chuckles)
NC: (smirking) It's like In Living Color, only not funny and somehow more offensive.
(After Ralphie returns home, he and Randy witness their parents' falling out over the special lamp being broken)
NC (vo): The mother apparently knocks over the lamp by accident, and the father goes to get the glue. Pretty similar to the original, except it happens on Christmas Eve!
NC: Christmas Eve! It just makes everyone look like an asshole!
NC (vo): The father looks like a dick yelling at his wife and going to the store to get glue, and the mother just leaves the kids behind because she's so angry! These parents are awful! Just awful!
NC: In the original, they were...a little awful! Likeably awful! But here, they're Christmas Story 2 awful! (As the poster of the sequel is shown, the audience gasps) I said it! No regrets! THIS SPECIAL SUCKS!
(Mr. Parker returns to the house to fix the lamp, and seconds later, Mrs. Parker comes back to say sorry)
NC (vo; sighs): They come home and immediately make up, making this all completely pointless.
NC: And since we know you don't ever want this to end, here's a song about the kids not being able to sleep!
(The next number is performed by the children outside. You can see that Randy doesn't move in unison with the other ones)
Children: (singing) Somewhere, hovering over Indiana...
Back-up: (singing) Indiana...
NC: You know what this scene needs? That yak...
NC (vo): ...from that Ren & Stimpy episode that goes completely insane.
Children: (singing) He'll come swerving down the hill, / Catch the curve around the mill...
(This clip from the Ren & Stimpy episode "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen" plays, showing the said yak going bonkers over Stimpy's singing as the music "Dangerous C" by Mladen Franko is heard)
Yak: SHUT UP!! I can't STAND IT anymore! All the time, singing! SINGING! WHY WON'T HE STOOOOOP?!?!
(In the Christmas morning, the Parkers unwrap their presents)
NC (vo): Christmas morning mercifully comes, as the last 20 minutes, it's pretty much a line-for-line reenactment, replacing all the charm and joy with a possibly drunk Broderick.
Narrator: (various scenes) I knew that Santa and his reinbe...deer had already left... / My old man was one of the most feared furnace fighters in all of Northern Indiana. / ...that I was not only prote...perpetually four years old... / My eye...my eye's okay. / If Schwartz...if Schwartz and Flick ever saw me... / Or, at least, that's what I kept telling myself.
NC: (hand on cheek) How did they never do another Inspector Gadget with him?
NC (vo): I know I'm picking on him too much, but a lot of people really do underestimate the passion of the original. So, once again, here's the author. A guy who made his living [from] writing giving acting a shot against a highly paid Hollywood actor who does this professionally.
(The clip from the original movie with Jean Shepherd narrating Ralphie discovering he has no glasses is shown)
Narrator: My eye's all right. The BB must've hit my glasses. My glasses! Oh, no! Where are my glasses? Few things brought such swift and terrible retribution on a kid as a pair of busted glasses!
(The 2017 special shows that the onscreen narrator doesn't remotely sound like the previous film)
Narrator: The BB must've hit my glasses. My glasses... Oh, no. Where were my glasses? Nothing brought such swift and terrible retribution on a kid as a pair of busted glasses. (Ralphie, not seeing where he's going, steps on his glasses)
NC: (as the narrator) Can you believe The Lion King invited James Earl Jones back, but not me? Weird!
NC (vo): Like the original, he pretends an icicle hit his eye and he gets to keep the gun.
(The Bumpus' hound appears in the house and grabs the turkey, so Mr. Parker has nothing to do but...take the tablecloth off when chasing after the dog. So the Parkers visit a Chinese restaurant, its owner also played by Ken Jeong)
NC (vo): The dogs eat the turkey, but forget to take the tablecloth, so the father makes up for that...there you go. And they go to the Chinese restaurant, where...prepare yourself...there's an actual funny joke here.
(The owner conducts a chorus of Asian carolers in front of the Parkers)
Caroler: Deck the halls with boughs of holly...
Carolers: Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!
Mr. Parker: (as the others applause) Why, I...I...wasn't expecting that.
Owner: What were you expecting?
Mr. Parker: ...I don't know.
NC: (annoyed, slams the table) Dammit! That means I have to say I laughed once in this!
(The narrator picks up a mitten belonging to...his younger self. They both stare at each other as they hold the mitten together)
NC: (as Ralphie) Does this mean we both die?
(The cast of the special appears on the stage for a curtain call, ending it)
NC (vo): It finally ends with everyone taking a bow, but they never address the most pressing question that the special raised...
(Cut back to a clip of Mary Beth)
NC (vo): Did the girl ever learn to type?!
NC: (bemused) Well, that's the most investment I got!
(The clips from both the original film and 2017 special play out once more as NC goes to the closing thoughts on the latter)
NC (vo): This special makes me realize why so many people are hating Christmas Story more and more, because fewer and fewer people know how to properly represent what made it special. Christmas Story has become that kitschy lamp. It’s loud, ridiculous, and people are increasingly embarrassed by it. In the original, it was grounded enough to mock such tackiness, but now, it’s become it. This whole special is like one of Ralphie’s fantasies, except they’re supposed to only last a few minutes, not over two hours! I’ll give it credit on a technical level, for a live show, it is amazing how smoothly it went and how good it looks. I’ll also say the music, for the genre, is surprisingly rather good, too. It makes me almost want to check out the Broadway show, but just as a silly musical, not as a good representation of A Christmas Story, because I’m believing more and more nobody can properly capture it. It’s a little story in a little town about little problems, but it’s done with great actors, great writing, and a great director. To go this overboard with people who clearly don’t understand the source material or what made it so special is a difficult misstep for any Christmas Story fan to watch. And I still love the original the same way I love The Grinch, despite everyone trying to destroy that, too. (Posters of the two film versions of The Grinch, the 2000 film and the 2018 animated film, are shown) You simply can’t kill a true classic. But with that said, this was an impressive attempt.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic, and Christmas has just begun! (stands up to leave to his right, but remembers there is still havoc going on outside) Maybe I'll go out that way.
(He quietly leaves as usual. The credits roll)
Channel Awesome tagline - Narrator (2017): My glasses... Oh, no. Where were my glasses?