My Summer Story
My Summer Story, originally released in theaters as It Runs in the Family, is a 1994 film that follows the further adventures of the Parker family from A Christmas Story. Like the previous film, it is based on semi-autobiographical stories by Jean Shepherd, primarily from his book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.
|My Summer Story|
Theatrical release poster (under the original title, It Runs in the Family)
|Directed by||Bob Clark|
|Produced by||Rene Dupont|
|Screenplay by||Jean Shepherd|
|Based on||In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters|
by Jean Shepherd
|Narrated by||Jean Shepherd|
|Music by||Paul Zaza|
|Cinematography||Stephen M. Katz|
|Edited by||Stan Cole|
The opening of the film makes direct reference to the events of A Christmas Story, and the ending narration strongly parallels it; production delays forced most of the characters to be recast. Charles Grodin stars as the Old Man (Mr. Parker), Mary Steenburgen plays Mrs. Parker, and Kieran Culkin plays Ralphie. Shepherd provides the narration, just as he had done for A Christmas Story.
The film takes place in the summer of 1941, after the events of A Christmas Story, which took place in December 1940. It has several plot lines, one each for Ralphie, his father, and his mother, followed by one involving him and his dad on a fishing trip. His quest for most of the film is to find a top tough enough to knock that of a bully's out of a chalk circle in a game of "Kill". Meanwhile, his dad has a series of skirmishes with his hillbilly neighbors, the Bumpuses, and all forty-three Bloodhounds named Big Red. He calls in Barkley, the family dog, to distract the Bumpuses' hounds when he comes home from work. When he gets out of the car, he accidentally steps in dog poop. Ralphie's mom would like to finally get something other than a Ronald Colman gravy boat on dish night at the local cinema. Scut, the main bully, is demoted, with a new head bully ruling over him.
Ralphie does eventually get a top just as powerful as the bully's. They both end up disappearing into the sewer, never to be seen again.
Shepherd had begun work on the film in 1989, after wrapping up production on the television film Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss. He admitted making the sequel mainly as a money-making enterprise; when he saw the amount of royalties he was making off telecasts and re-releases of A Christmas Story compared to his television productions, he walked away from television and vowed to work almost exclusively on films. Because the cast of A Christmas Story had aged to the point where they no longer fit their roles, it was entirely recast, with the exception of Tedde Moore, who returns as Ralphie's teacher, Miss Shields.
Mixed reviews have appeared about the film. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+, noting that the film "improves on A Christmas Story, with better pacing and better defined characters, but found Shepherd's narration to be "oh-so-drolly exaggerated — and therefore condescending". Robert Butler at the Kansas City Star called it "a sequel worth seeing" which revisits the humor of the original.
Upon the release of the film on DVD in 2006, DVDtalk wrote "if you squint just right, My Summer Story is actually reasonably good", while criticizing the casting, but praising Shepherd's narration as "easily the film's saving grace". Christopher Null at MovieCritic.com referred to the film as a "lackluster sequel" with "little of the same charm" as A Christmas Story, and "not funny, really". A 2011 summary of best and worst movies filmed in Cleveland called the film a "dog", which "features none of the original cast -- and none of the original heart".
Prior to the making of the theatrical film, PBS co-produced a series of TV movies based on the Parker family for American Playhouse including Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss, The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters, and The Phantom of the Open Hearth.
- "It Runs In The Family (1994)". BoxOfficeMojo.com.
- Sharbutt, Jay (August 6, 1988). "Jean Shepherd's Midwest in 'Haven of Bliss'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
- Weiner Campbell, Caren (July 14, 1995). "Video Review My Summer Story". Entertainment Weekly.
- Butler, Robert W. (August 21, 1995). "A sequel worth seeing - My Summer Story revisits hilarity of 1982's A Christmas Story". Kansas City Star pg. D1. (subscription required)
- Galbraith IV, Stuart (August 3, 2006). "My Summer Story (aka It Runs in the Family" DVDTalk.com. August 1, 2006.
- Null, Christopher (February 4, 2005). "It Runs in the Family". MovieCritic.com, AMC.
- Campanelli, John (January 15, 2011). "Cleveland's best, worst movies over the years". Cleveland.com.
- Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. New York: Plume/Penguin, 2008, p. 696.