It Runs in the Family (1994) Poster

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Not as good as Chrismas Story but entertaining enough.
davidkelly197714 March 2004
I am a huge fan of A Christmas Story and was unaware that Bob Clarke had filmed more of Jean Shepherds work until I listened to the commentary track on the Christmas Story DVD. I had read peoples comments here and been a little concerned by its 5/10 score. I still wanted to see it for myself so I picked up a copy on VHS for £1.00. With all our VCRs now replaced with DVD players we only have one VCR in the house so I didnt get to watch this til after midnight one Sunday night. Whilst not brilliant and no where near as good as Christmas Story (but I guess thats because this isnt about Christmas!) I found this film to be a very delightful piece of light-hearted entertainment. Yes the choice of actors dont seem to be as memorable but thats probably because Ive watched Christmas Story hundreds of times. Dont expect any huge moments, but this is a perfect lazy day nostalgic movie. The adults will probably enjoy it more than the kids though.
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Much better than I remembered.
behemuthm3 January 2002
This film was excellent! While some may argue that it is not up to par with "A Christmas Story" it is definately a good and faithful sequel. Unfortunately none of the same cast (probably because all the child actors were now too old) but still great acting all around. The story is awesome, and the narration classic! One to definately check out. 8/10.
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A funny movie
Robo-Junkie20 August 2002
A funny movie, while not as good as A Christmas Story, it has it's own silly feel and manages to stay in the same mold as its predecessor. So if you liked A Christmas Story, you'll probably enjoy this one as well, even if you've watched A Christmas Story your entire life :)
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The last scene is great
heckles20 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
(Spoilers) No matter what you think about the rest of the movie, the last scene was a real gem. The camera pans on mother Mary Steenburgen, listening with a smile on the house steps as her husband's pals trade vulgar stories with Ralphie in attendance. Her boy's been admitted to the man's club! Then she jumps up with a yelp and runs to pull him out when a story gets TOO raunchy. I loved it!
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Move over Scott Farkus, there's a new foe in town. (spoilers)
Pepper Anne29 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Of the two sequels to "A Christmas Story," (the other being Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss released in 1987), It Runs in the Family (aka My Summer Story) is the better one.

Kieran Culkin portrays second-grader Ralphie Parker. Though Parker was supposed to be 14 years-old in the second movie, the writers might've felt it to be more entertaining to once again write a story from a young kid's perspective. Not only is it something younger children can relate to, but they don't have to stick to such strict guidelines of reality, allowing room to delve into fanatasies and imaginations of our narrating protagonist, Ralphie.

That is what made the first movie so enjoyable, this kid getting all psyched out about Christmas and dreaming about his Red Ryder BB gun. Then, he'd have his little day dreams about how his mom got together and plotted to give him a bad grade on his essay about the gun, marking it with large letters that "he'd shoot his eye out." Or how, when his parents often rebuffed his requests for the Christmas present, he daydreamed how he was blind and returns home and his parents grieve about how they should've been nicer to him. There's a bit of that going on here, and makes it a better comedy.

So, little Ralphie Parker is engaged in a battle with a new foe, Lug Ditka, who challenges Ralphie to a tops war. The tops battles are apparently symbolic of strength and more appropriate in a family film than physically fighting. While Ralphie's classmates have failed to beat Lug, the reigning champion, Ralphie is going to prove is worth. And the feat becomes very intimidating.

The movie is pretty much a string of subplots, one not really dominating the other. Meanwhile, we have three other subplots. The funniest and most interesting one involves Ralphie's mother (Mary Steenburgen) and the other local Indiana housewives going to this theater each week, lured by a salesman's promise of getting a full set of autographed celebrity dinnerware. Each week, they return with the same gravy boat. The funny part is seeing Ralphie's mother getting annoyed when her husband asks her the stupid question of where all the other celebrity autographed plates were when he was standing in a kitchen full of gravy boats. Like a scene from Citizen Kane, the women eventually get together and stage a revolt.

The other subplot involves Ralphie's father (aka The Old Man) and greater insight to their boorish hick neighbors, the Bumpus's. Recall in the first movie, it was their dogs who often stormed the Parkers kitchen and spoiled the Christmas turkey. Once again, there is a feud between Old Man Parker and the Bumpus's concerning a territorial dispute.

And, yet another subplot concerns Ralphie and his dad, and their skilled fishing expedition. As you'll notice, there's not much going on with Randy Parker (played by Kieran's brother, Christian).

It turned out to be a better family comedy than Ollie Hopnoodle's, and one that fans of "A Christmas Story," would probably enjoy.
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I loved both did my whole family!
coolc58013 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
My family and I loved a Christmas story and we loved it runs in the family aka. my summer story. Its all about being young and your child hood,people seem to forget that. I've tried to get the movie on DVD and looked everywhere no one has it. If it does come out on DVD my family and i know other's that would love to bye it. My favorites are the hillbilly neighbor's and Charles Grodin. The Culkin boys are great to.This movie is a sure pleaser and it will bring back memories of your childhood.Every neighborhood has neighbor's like the Bumpesses and a child that's trying to live the summer to the fullest.Watch with your family and enjoy Iam sure you and your children will love the movie to.................
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Liked it, has alternate name
Steve Doyle24 December 2004
I saw it as "It Runs in the Family".

I found it very funny. Midwest Gothic humor I guess and I enjoy that and if you like Jean Shepard you'll like this. But also maybe because I didn't try to compare it with "A Christmas Story". It involves one kid's summer in Indiana, trying to outfox the local bully and dealing with the unspoken world of adults. Shepard's crystal clear descriptions of growing up with stand offs and quirky battles. The sets and settings are done perfectly, with all the humid reality of a Midwest summer.

I thought Grodin and Steenbergen were great, along with one of the Caulkin kids. I missed the first part, but still enjoyed it.
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I Beg to Differ ..
satin_grace3 December 2006
I remember watching this movie when it premiered on the movie channels as a kid. I hadn't even seen A Christmas Story yet and with that in mind I didn't demean this movie just because it didn't compare. I found it quite humorous and I love how it goes beyond the first movie and more into the craziness of their family once I finally watched ACS. It is an excellent movie for kids and adults, especially those that are still kids at heart. I was actually trying to track this title down so I can purchase it on DVD. Seeing the only comment left on this movie was disheartening and I wanted to express my opinion for this wonderful movie.
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Great Family movie!
charinms28 April 2000
"It Runs in the Family" is a great movie for the whole family! It is one of the cutest films I've ever seen! It's right up there with "Stand by Me" and "A Christmas Story." It's the kind of movie that give you a warm feeling, yet it's very entertaining. The Culkin brothers do a great job in my opinion, and Mary Steenburgen is a gem as always. If you're looking for a movie that will make you laugh, and maybe even bring back great childhood memories, this is definitely the movie for you!
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Silly, but good
amanda_tlg20 May 2005
The prequel -A Christmas Story- will live on as a classic. But this follow up wasn't too bad. I thought it was cute. The dish give-away, the property taxes, the gypsy's worth seeing. Charles Grodin wouldn't have been my first choice to play the 'old man' but it works, I suppose. The scenes with the next door neighbors will have you laughing for a LONG time. It may be a little hard to watch at first, especially considering most of us are used to the original cast. But it's a memorable movie. Hard to find on VHS or DVD, but I'm still looking. I don't think my collection will be complete until I have it. Anyone who remembers their mother collecting stamps for gravy boats will have a few nostalgic moments here, too.
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Ralphie, a chip off the old block?
shrinkingman0611 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A ten year old boy helps his dad in a "war" against hillbilly neighbors, and also finds himself on the way to manhood when Dad takes him fishing, while Mom leads a revolt against the "Ronald-Coleman-gravy-boat-again" Dish Nights at the local theatre. The same boy tries to beat the school bully in a "top" episode of The Simpsons? No--it's the sequel to A Christmas Story: Jean Shepherd's "My Summer Story", aka "It Runs in the Family".

Shepherd again narrates. He was a legendary humorist and radio personality who indirectly inspired "A Boy Named Sue" and whose Christmas tale has become a cult hit thanks to cable TV marathons. Here, we get to see Ralphie at a time of year when boys DON'T try to stick their tongues to flagpoles. The Old Man is played by Charles Grodin, whose gruff manor--but at times, joie de vivre--is in the spirit of Darren McGavin, who played that role in ACS; while Mom is played by Mary Steenbergen (Back to the Future Pt 3). And if Shepard's narration makes you think "Wonder Years", be aware that "A Christmas Story" used the "adult narrator recalling his youth" device several years before the ABC series came about (wonder where they got the idea!)

Very funny, warm hearted, and nostalgic.

I'm this kid, see...
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A formula sequel film
jaymaloney27 May 2005
"A Christmas Story" is one of many people's all-time most beloved films. ACS was able to take the viewer to a time and a place in such a way that very few films ever have. It had a sweetness and goodwill to it that is rare.

So I awaited (and awaited) its sequel, "It Runs In The Family" . The film was almost released a couple of times, only to be pulled at the last minute. When it finally came out, IRITF was (and is, I guess) a total failure.

The sets and cinematography were just fine, but the directing totally, completely missed the mark. The film was nothing more than a cash-flow formula of lazy casting, lazy writing, and disconnected acting.

The narrator, Jean Shepard, who was one of America's great humorists and story-tellers, forced upon us a false reprise of the warm wit he used in ACS. He over-emoted, and why he did that I'll never know. He somehow managed to become an annoying, overwrought parody of himself.

The writing and acting in IRITF is inauthentic and forced. The actors may have seen ACS, but whatever wit and nuance that was in ACS mustn't have registered at all on any of them. The acting was embarrassingly slapstick and bereft of any of Shepard's dry humor.

ACS will always be a real treasure, but to call IRITF a sequel is to insult all of the fans of Jean Shepard and ACS.
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Another poor sequel
ShariRN3-126 February 2008
Like most people I love "A Christmas Story". I had never even heard of this film and perhaps for good reason--it is awful. Same locale, same narrator, same director but the warm fuzziness of the original was lacking. Charles Grodin was a poor choice to replace Darrin McGavin but I cannot imagine anyone being able to replace him. The story seems forced and lacks the sweetness of the original. The interaction with the neighbors, the Bumpuses, is ridiculous. In "A Christmas Story" Ralphie's obsession with the BB gun seems cute but his obsession in this movie is boring. Scud Farkus, the original neighborhood bully, is replaced in this film by yet another kid with braces and a weird hat but with little of the Scud Farkus menacing appeal. It would be pretty difficult to equal the original, even if this movie had been made with the original crew.
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Very Funny Follow-Up
NineBall19862 April 2004
I just caught this follow up on TV today and I simply found myself laughing all the way through it. A Christmas Story is a true classic flick that I watch every Xmas. I had not heard up until about a year ago that a follow up even exsisted! Obviously the film was promoted poorly. I think it's very underrated, for one reason JEAN STAPLETON. This man a true master of narrating a film, he gets us from beginning to end through the picture with pure satisfaction of re-living of childhood. I personally love Mr. Stapleton's narration in both films and his comedy & witt is just priceless to listen to. All in all "It Runs in the Family" is an enjoyable funny follow-up, but will never achieve the classic & beauty that "A Christmas Story" achieved.
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Jdc1026 February 1999
This was a funny movie, but I thought the original THE CHRISTMAS STORY, was better.. The original is a classic, but I think this is a good movie.
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I love this movie!!!
keith-6156 August 2006
I've watched this film several times and loved everything about it, especially the narration. Was disappointed that I couldn't find it on DVD, so I asked my buddy about it (a movie buff and pop culture freak who never saw it) but he only raved and raved about A Christmas Story which I had never seen.

Well, the special edition of Christmas was released, my buddy bought it, and invited me over.

Yeah, great film. Very cool. But the family that *I* fell in love with was the Summer Story cast! And here, I read comments of Christmas Story fans hating this sequel. Funny how that works out!!!

The good news is the DVD has been released recently, at a discount price, and it is still a great flick worth repeated viewings.

Charles Grodin is GREAT as The Old Man ("Son of a Bitch!" "F-I-S-H-!" and "War, Bumpus! This is war!"), Steenburgen is hilarious when she snaps at the Orpheum and gets arrested, Dick O'Neill as Pulaski ("I haven't got all day!") and the Culkin kids are fine as Ralphie and Randy.

Anyway, if you are a Baby Boomer, and enjoy nostalgic looks to our childhoods, BOTH films written by Jean Shepherd are MUST-SEE DVDs.
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Nice try.
DougG-317 February 1999
I have enjoyed Charles Grodin's work in a number of films (e.g., "Midnight Run"), but he is a problematic factor in this sequel to "A Christmas Story". Darren McGavin portrayed The Old Man as eccentric, volatile, bemused and usually funny. Grodin's portrayal made him seem close to insane and occasionally a bit scary. Mom was fine and the kids were acceptable. The best thing about the movie was the Bumpus clan...really the only reason to watch it.
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chas775 April 2007
Really bad. Why anyone thinks this is a good film let alone funny is a true mystery. I like comedies as much as the next man and I LOVED "A Christmas Story." The fact that it has the same director and was based on the same writer's memoirs has me completely puzzled as to why this film is such a complete failure on every level. Charles Grodin is woefully miscast as the father for starters. For another it does not seem to have the same pacing -- it just doesn't flow well. Everything seems tired and forced. The joy of life that permeated the first film is completely absent here -- you just want the movie to end. I wouldn't even recommend this movie for curiosity-seekers who enjoyed "A Christmas Story." It's that bad. 1/10.
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Lacks Charm of "A Christmas Story", but Jean Shepherd's Narration Made This Film More Worthwhile
D_Burke8 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was eleven years old when "My Summer Story" (originally released as "It Runs In The Family") came out, and I remember reading about it in a kids magazine but never seeing it get released in my local theater. When I looked up on that the film only grossed $71,000 at the time of its release, it didn't surprise me. It turns out a lot of other kids my age didn't see this film released at their local theaters either.

"My Summer Story" was advertised at the time as a sequel to "A Christmas Story". I'm not sure if "sequel" is the right word for such a movie, even though the same characters from the previous movie were reprized here. The fact is, people tend to forget that both movies were based on the memoirs of Jean Shepherd, who provided narration for both movies. Without most of the cast of the original movie (save Shepherd himself and Tedde Moore as Ralphie's teacher, Mrs. Shields), a lot of the charm that made "A Christmas Story" both a perennial favorite and a cult classic was lost in this movie. Although director Bob Clark, who directed both movies, is now deceased, he probably became aware 15 years ago that this movie could not even come close to the long-term success of "A Christmas Story".

Kieran Culkin is a very good child actor who grew up to do some really good movies ("Igby Goes Down", "The Cider House Rules"). As a child, he displayed a lot of charm in understated movie roles (both "Home Alone" movies, both "Father of the Bride" movies). Here, he has to fill Peter Billingsley's shoes, and he seems unaware of the previous movie. He doesn't look like a child from the 1940's, nor does he really act like one. He just kind of seems to go through the motions here. For instance, there's no excitement in his eyes when he goes searching for a top, and his level of embarrassment is not evident in the scene where the Chinese top with flowers is mocked by his peers. As good an actor as the younger Culkin became, his acting did not match with Jean Shepherd's enthusiastic narration.

My guess is that both Kieran and Christian Culkin (who plays younger brother Randy) got cast in this movie the same way their older brother Macaulay got cast in "The Good Son": their father pulled strings and went against the studios wishes through threatening and bribery. "The Good Son" was not a good role for Macaulay, and these roles in this movie weren't the right fit for these Culkin boys.

Charles Grodin probably got typecast as Mr. Parker based on his previously successful performances in the "Beethoven" movies as the grumpy Dad. In this movie, he plays grumpy well, but that's really all he plays. It's a one-dimensional performance that doesn't contain the warmth of Darren McGavin's more developed character from the original movie. Mary Steenbergen doesn't give a lot to her performance as Mrs. Parker either, and the subplot of her gravy boat surplus may have been funny on paper, but is awkward on film. The part near the end where she throws a gravy boat at movie theater owner Leopold Doppler (a miscast Glenn Shadix of "Beetlejuice" fame) made me wonder how that didn't occur to her in the middle of the film.

The gravy boat fiasco is just one of many subplots that, unlike in "A Christmas Story", coexist, but don't interlope and connect to form one great story. They all just seem very sitcom-like and unoriginal. There's a subplot about a tax collector that goes nowhere, some hillbilly neighbors who aren't as aggravating as Grodin desperately wants the audience to think they are, a fishing story which accounts (surprise!) no fish being caught over a majority of the summer, and a brief mention of the famous BB gun from "A Christmas Story" involving Ralphie being shot somewhere else other than the eye. When he gets shot in this place, it feels like a cheap laugh that insults the intelligence of the film's intended audience.

On top of all those inconsistencies, the movie never gives a time and place. By that I mean that the movie takes place sometime in the 1940's before television, but you never know exactly when because the film never tells you in subtitles. It's clear that the people who made this movie made too many assumptions of whom would see this film.

This movie is no "Christmas Story", that's for sure. However, if it weren't for Jean Shepherd's narration, this film would be completely forgettable. Shepherd is a great storyteller, both on paper and on film. His voice has a grandfather-like charm to it, and his sense of humor goes without saying. He lived these tales he tells, and no one can tell them better than him. Without his voice in the movie, the film would have been completely lost. So yes, "My Summer Story" was deeply flawed in many areas, but I marginally recommend this film because of Shepherd's great storytelling skills.
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How can this happen
zbacku27 February 2017
No spoilers, just saw about 20 minutes of this movie. My question is: How can a sequel to one of the greatest movies of all time be so bad. It is unwatchable, embarrassing to watch and just a waste of time. IMDb says I must have five lines to review a movie. So, I will just have to continue to type until I get to the five lines needed. This movie is now worth the five lines for a review.
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Ruined by Bad Casting.
dalbrech11 December 2006
This film is a good example of how not to make a sequel. That Bob Clark who did such a perfect casting "A Christmas Story" should have blown this vital aspect of the film is beyond understanding. Charles Grodin is just terrible as the Old Man. Kieran Culkin who plays Ralphie is not quite as horrid,but is still a sad comparison with Billingsly in the original.One wonders if he was not cast because he was the brother of another kid actor who had a huge Christmas hit. Only Mary Steenburgen as Mom does a decent job,and even she is not quite as good as Melinda Dillon did in the original. In addition to the casting mistakes,but other wrong decisions were made.Showing the Bumpasses for no good reason is a prime example.They were so much funnier left to the imagination (except for he dogs) in the original. All in all,Bob CLark should have known better.
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Has it's moments, but...
herzogvon4 February 2006
As a fan of Jean Shepherd since the early 70s, allow me to point out a few faults; egregious and otherwise: a.) It's not Lud Ditka - we all know where that surname came from - it is Lud Kissel. Somehow, Bob Clark has decided to do a morph job on the Kissel clan.

b.) Charles Grodin is a wretched, miserable excuse for an actor. He should NEVER have been cast as "The Old Man", and both James Broderick and Darrin McGavin must be spinning in their graves - presuming the latter is dead.

c.) And now for the topper; the only baseball reference is to the hated Cubs. This is an obvious concession to the same group of morons that Clark was hoping to attract with the Ditka fabrication. Anyone who has ever read, heard or even looked at Jean Shepherd knows that he is a WHITE SOX fan to the core! It is part of the very fiber of his being, as well as those of Ralph's entire northwest Indiana family. For Sheperd to have allowed this slander, this total distortion of everything he stands for, can only mean one of two things; either he was comatose at the time of shooting, or he was made a monetary offer he couldn't refuse. My money - you should pardon the expression - is on the latter.

So, enjoy the amusing bits - ( most of them come early anyway ) - then try and forget you ever saw this sacrilege and do your best to wait patiently until next Christmas, when the REAL Parker clan will once again be on display. My friends, you have been warned.
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Very unsuccessful sequel.
jckruize4 December 2007
Jean Shepherd, Bob Clark, and the entire cast and crew seem to be trying really hard with this latecomer sequel to "A Christmas Story" but it just doesn't work.

Now granted, it would be tough for anyone to follow in the footsteps of the beloved characters portrayed so memorably by Darren McGavin (as The Old Man) and Peter Billingsley (as Ralphie) in the original, but the efforts here by Charles Grodin and Kieran Culkin, respectively, are disappointingly feeble. Culkin can be dismissed as merely bland; he's just not much of an actor. Grodin, however, is more problematic. Never the warmest of actors, his skill at playing low-key supporting characters who specialize in dryly delivered asides is unparalleled. But here he's simultaneously trying to pay a tribute to McGavin and convincingly portray a bigger-than-life 'man's man'; in both cases he's not only unconvincing, but actually looks uncomfortable.

Despite the ploddingly episodic script and casting weaknesses, praise should go, once again, to the production design and costuming, nostalgically evoking a bygone era. For some people that may be enough. But overall this a depressing example of filmmakers going to the well once too often.
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Weak And Horrible Christmas Story Follow-up
larr11813 August 2003
A Christmas Story Is A Holiday Classic And My Favorite Movie. So Naturally, I Was Elated When This Movie Came Out In 1994. I Saw It Opening Day and Was Prepared To Enjoy Myself. I Came Away Revolted And Digusted. The Anticipation that Rang True In A Christmas Story Is Curiously Missing from This mess. A Red Ryder BB Gun Is Better to get than a chinese top.And It Is Not Very Funny At all. Charles Grodin Is Good but the Buck Stops There. Bottom Line:1 Star. Don't Even Bother.
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Pass this up
Avnat24 March 2002
This movie was not very entertaining, certainly NO WHERE as original or as good as A Christmas Story. The characters (except the youngest) try to emulate the preceding actors, and they fail. The hillbilly neighbors come out of nowhere as they weren't a part of the first movie. This really sucked, might have been good with the original cast, then again maybe not because the story is so weak. Skip it.
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