HomeMoviesA Christmas Story Live! Proves We Need a Break from Live Musicals

A Christmas Story Live! Proves We Need a Break from Live Musicals

A Christmas Story Live
Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/ FOX

A Christmas Story Live! Plot Summary:

FOX’s live, adaptation of the A Christmas Story: The Musical, which is a musical adaptation of the classic Christmas film A Christmas Story. It follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (Andy Walken) and his desire to get his hands on a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

There are certain pieces of pop culture you just don’t touch.

A Christmas Story is one of them, and FOX learned this the hard way.

Full disclosure: I’m not particularly fond of A Christmas Story. I feel like it’s an okay movie that people have an unnatural obsession with. There’s no reason this film should be marathoned for 24 hours straight. However, I’m in the extreme minority. People adore this film, and are perfectly content with having it on in the background during the holidays for hours, if not days, on end.

And that’s why FOX should have never touched this.

It’s too beloved, and any sort of tinkering with the film would instantly turn off the audience. So what does FOX do? They don’t just remake it; they make it into a live musical.

And they shot their eye out doing so.

A Christmas Story Live! is a lifeless “live experience.” When FOX did The Passion as a live musical event, you really felt the intensity and the energy in every performance. It wasn’t perfect, but you felt something from the performances, and you had to respect the creativity of the event.

With A Christmas Story Live!, everything felt like a lifeless musical number from a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Songs feel canned and pantomimed, the choreography was off, and most of the ensemble cast acted like they’re just wanting to get through the show as fast as possible. Everything felt as forced and artificial as the product placement (we’re looking at you Old Navy) and unnatural set pieces.

Oh, and there were some extremely terrible “cameos” from burgeoning musical acts. First there’s Bebe Rexha, who opened the special with so-saccharine-you-need-an-insulin-shot musical number that felt like a bad GAP ad. Then there’s boyband PRETTYMUCH who play this weird Greek Chorus/a cappella carol group. You can tell this outfit benefits from production and autotune because they are about as flat and off key as you can get.

Now that’s not to say everyone missed the mark. The people you expect to deliver, deliver. Maya Rudolph is fantastic as Ralphie’s harried yet caring mother. She imbues such warmth into the special that you really wish she onscreen at all times. Ana Gasteyer has a small role as Schwartz’s mom, and she too delivers in a big way. Chris Diamantopoulos wasn’t the perfect choice to fill in for Darren McGavin, but he made the role his own. Jane Krakowski, despite the absurdity of her numbers, handed in a solid performance as Ralphie’s teacher.

Then there’s Matthew Broderick. He gave one of the most confusing performances. At times he was perfect — an amiable narrator, who hammered home the heart and soul of the story. Then at times he came off like a walking dad joke haplessly mugging for the camera. Given the fact he’s onscreen all the time, he needed to be consistent.

A Christmas Story Live! — given the poor ratings, critical, and fan response — should give all networks pause over the whole live musical trend. Sure, some have done very (e.g. Grease, The Wiz), but recently with this, Dirty Dancing, and that Rocky Horror remake, musicals are trending down. However, let’s think about the ones that have been hits — who’s clamoring for them? Where are the reruns? Why aren’t they show again and again if they’re such beloved pieces of pop culture? That’s because they aren’t. They are in-the-moment disposable pieces of entertainment. And given the downward trend, they probably should become less of an occurrence, and more of a special.

Regardless, A Christmas Story Live! is going to be filed away quickly, and stored in the basement of FOX’s archives, like a bad Christmas present you don’t ever want to see again.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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