It Runs in the Family (1994 film)
|It Runs in the Family
(My Summer Story)
DVD cover, 2006
|Directed by||Bob Clark|
|Produced by||Rene Dupont|
|Written by||Jean Shepherd,
|Narrated by||Jean Shepherd|
|Music by||Paul Zaza et al.|
|Cinematography||Stephen M. Katz|
|Edited by||Stan Cole|
|Running time||85 min.|
It Runs in the Family (released on DVD as My Summer Story) is a 1994 film that follows the further adventures of Ralphie Parker and his family from the holiday hit 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.
The opening of It Runs in the Family makes direct reference to the events of A Christmas Story, and the ending narration strongly parallels that of the earlier film. However, the sequel features a different cast, with two exceptions. Both movies feature Tedde Moore as Ralphie's teacher, Miss Shields, and Jean Shepherd as the narrator, the voice of the adult Ralphie. Charles Grodin stars as the Old Man (Ralphie's father), Mary Steenburgen plays Ralphie's mother, and Kieran Culkin plays Ralphie.
The film has several plot lines, one each for Ralphie, his father and his mother, followed by one involving Ralphie and his dad on a fishing trip. Ralphie's quest for most of the movie is to find a top tough enough to knock a bully's top out of a chalk circle in a game of "Kill". Meanwhile, the Old Man has a series of skirmishes with his hillbilly neighbors, the Bumpuses, and all forty-three Bloodhounds named Big Red. The Old Man calls in Barkley, the family dog, to distract the Bumpuses' hounds when the Old Man 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; the two tops both end up disappearing into the sewer, never to be seen again.
- Charles Grodin as Mr. Parker, the Old Man
- Mary Steenburgen as Mrs. Parker
- Kieran Culkin as Ralphie Parker
- Christian Culkin as Randy Parker
- Whit Hertford as Lug
- Chris Owen as Scut Farkus
- Geoffrey Wigdor as Flick
- David Zahorsky as Schwartz
- Tedde Moore as Miss Shields
- T.J. McInturff as Grover Dill
Mixed reviews have appeared about the film. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+, noting that the film "improves on the original", 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".
PBS also made 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.
My Summer Story (DVD, 2006) ISBN 1-4248-1902-4
- "It Runs In The Family (1994)". BoxOfficeMojo.com.
- 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.