Last night, while I was wrapping presents, I watched A Christmas Story Live! on Fox.
I was worried about whether or not I would be able to enjoy the Live version. Like all good people, I love the original movie. If you have ever wondered who actually spends 24 hours watching A Christmas Story on Christmas, it’s usually me. It’s the perfect holiday movie, a sweet and loving tribute to both Christmas and family. The Live version, which was based on the Broadway version of the original film, had a lot to live up to.
It got off to a bad start, with Bebe Rexha performing a song called Count on Christmas while people in pink bunny suits jumped around behind her. At first, I thought I was watching the worst Old Navy commercial of all time. The sound was wonky during Rexha’s performance and what could be heard was extremely auto-tuned.
Once the actual show started, the first thing I noticed was that A Christmas Story Live was using the Stars Hollow set from Gilmore Girls. There’s nothing wrong with that because I loved Gilmore Girls but I still kept expecting to see Lorelai and Luke arguing about whether Ralphie was going to shoot his eye out. The second thing I noticed was Matthew Broderick walking around the set, playing the role of the adult Ralphie and providing the narration. That took a while get used to, just because Broderick looked so sad and sometimes, it was hard not to think of him being a ghost, materializing around town and remembering what it was like to be alive.
A Christmas Story Live! lasted three hours, which was an hour too long. One of the best things about A Christmas Story is that it tells a very simple story that everyone can relate to so it felt strange to see it as a big musical production. But it got better as it went along. I really didn’t feel like I’d be able to keep going after the first hour but I stuck with it and during the second and third hours, the show’s energy really picked up, Broderick stopped looking so sad, and I started to really enjoy it. Maybe someone was backstage reading the comments on twitter because something changed between the first and second hours.
For me, the highlights where Jane Krakowski’s performance as the teacher, Maya Rudolph’s performance as the mother, Anna Gasteyer performing the Hanukkah song, and David Alan Grier as the drunk Santa Claus. I also liked Chris Diamantopoulos as the “Old Man,” even if nothing can compete with Darren McGavin’s performance in the original film. I was also really impressed with all the child performers in the show, especially Andy Walken who played Ralphie.
It wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful. Mostly, it just reminded me how much I love the original film and how I can’t wait to watch it this Christmas!