The Good Parts: My Summer Story


There are a few films that should never have a sequel (or remake). When the original is so perfect, why ruin it? One of the films that fall into this category is A Christmas Story. Sadly, Hollywood couldn’t keep away and produced not one, but two sequels.  The first was a PBS TV film entitled Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss. The second sequel was originally called It Runs in the Family. The film bombed in the theaters. A few years ago the film was released under a new name My Summer Story. Neither film could capture the magic of the original. Sure, all of the characters were back, but it just wasn’t the same. That’s not to say that My Summer Story is a total disaster. There are a few Good Parts:


Jean Shepard as the Adult Ralph
The film starts off on a positive with the voice over of Jean Shepard. In fact the film begins with the closing shot from A Christmas Story. If you didn’t know that My Summer Story was in your DVD player, you may think that your about to watch the original. Both films are based on the short stories of Jean Shepard’s books. Hearing his voice was nice to hear.


The House on Cleveland Street
Using the same house helped keep some resemblance to the original. The interiors of the home were also recreated as well. The house of course is now the Christmas Story Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.


Miss Shields Returns!
The only other original actor from the original film to return besides Jean Shepard, was Tedde Moore as Ralph’s teacher Miss Shields. The school location is different, but they were able to recreate the classroom pretty well. Miss Shields confronting Ralph on the “adult” book he uses for his book report is probably the best scene in the entire film.


The Bumpuses
I liked the decision that we never saw the hillbilly neighbors the Bumpuses in A Christmas Story. Not seeing them made you ponder what they look like. My Summer Story needed all the help it can, so we get our first glimpse of the Bumpuses. The portrayal of the neighbors from hell is very exaggerated. The Bumpuses are at least a family of 12, maybe more. All living to cause the Old Man aggravation.


That Kid From American Pie played Scut Farkus!
Remember watching American Pie and wondering if the kid who played Sherman was the actor who played Scut Farkus? Well the actor Chris Owen wasn’t the original Farkus, but he did play the character in A Summer Story. The characters role is no longer the main villian, but a lacky of the new bully Lug Ditka.


A Glimpse of the Darrin McGavin
Charles Grodin was a horrible choice to play the Old Man. His entire performance was a parody of Darrin McGavin’s portrayal of Mr. Parker. It will depress you to watch it. However, when the Old Man called the cop a son of a bitch, you can easily imagine Darrin McGavin in the role.


The Old Man is Always Listening
A top is the toy that Ralph craves in this film. He needs to find a superior top to beat the top of Lug the bully. After a few failed attempts, the Old Man pays a gypsy to give Ralph the supposed “magic top!” While the moment is not nearly as memorable as when he got Ralph the BB Gun, it still makes you smile.


The Similarities to the Original
The most positive thing you can say about My Summer Story are those few moments that remind you of the original. Bob Clark also directed this film. Because of that you will notice a lot of similar shots. For instance, the film ends with the camera panning in on the boys sleeping. Those few reminders can give you some enjoyment of a very lackluster film.

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