My Summer Story
(1994)

This is the sequel to A Christmas Story.  It was released in theaters with the title "It Runs In The Family".

The movie takes place the summer following the events of A Christmas Story.  It has 3 intertwined stories involving Ralphie (Kieran Culkin), Mother (Mary Steenburgen), and the Old Man (Charles Grodin), all narrated by Jean Shepard, who was the narrator in the first film.

Ralphie, who now goes by Ralph, still plays with the Red Ryder BB Gun, but his attention has now turned to tops.  He wants to find one to go up against the new bully on the block, Lug Ditka (Whit Hertford).  Lug uses his top to defeat and humiliate his opponents in top battles.  In a top battle, both players spin their tops into a large circle, and whichever top knocks out the other one is the winner, and no one can beat Lug.  Ralph finds one in a 5 and Dime store, but it is easily defeated.  He later finds one in a Chinese imports store, but he is laughed out of the circle because the top has roses painted on it.  The Old Man, who also battled tops when he was a kid, suggests that Ralph find a "Gypsy top" when they go to the World's Fair in Chicago in a few weeks.  "Gypsy tops" are the best tops in the world, he says.  At the fair, Ralph goes to the international bazaar, and finds a gypsy.  She agrees to sell him a real "Gypsy top".  After the sale, the Old Man comes out from hiding and pays off the gypsy for playing along.  Back at home, Ralph confronts Lug and they have a first to 5 wins battle.  Ralph and Lug split the first 8 battles.  On the 9th and final battle, the two tops are battling when they leave the circle at the same time and fall down the sewer drain.  By rule, this is a tie.  Lug is unhappy because he didn't win, and his top is lost.  Ralph is unhappy because he didn't defeat Lug, and will never get another chance to beat him.

Mother is spending her summer going to the movies every Friday to collect pieces of a china set..  Every week a new piece will be given away by the theater.  Everyone gets a gravy boat the first week, but when Mother and the rest of the collectors return the next week, they are given another gravy boat.  The manager (Glenn Shadix) tells them that there was a mix up in the delivery and the correct piece will come next week.  When everyone returns the next week, another gravy boat awaits them, along with another excuse by the manager.  This happens again every week for the next 10 weeks.  Finally, all of the collectors arrive at the theater will all their gravy boats.  When they are told yet again that gravy boats came instead of the next piece, Mother snaps and starts throwing the gravy boats at the manager.  This is soon followed by everyone throwing their gravy boats at the manager.  She is arrested for inciting a riot, but she become a town hero for her actions.

The Old Man has two stories.  The first one is his running feud with the neighbors, the Bumpus family.  The Bumpus' are a stereotypical hillbilly family who love to torment the Old Man by playing their type of music at all hours of the day and night.  One night, after he declares war on the Bumpus' for building an outhouse in their backyard ("what did they do with their bathroom?" Mother asks), the Old Man decides to play classical music very loudly in the middle of the night.  The music wakes up the Bumpus', as well as the entire neighborhood.  But instead of getting mad, they get even by deciding to play along and stage an impromptu ho-down on their front porch.  Beaten but not giving up, the Old Man tries again a few weeks later, but now he plays a sound effects record.  The noise wakes up the neighbors, but not the Bumpus', so he turns up the volume.  The neighbors yell at him to turn it off because they aren't there anymore.  Apparently, the Bumpus' moved out the night before in an effort to avoid the tax collector.  The neighborhood all agree that the Bumpus' were never this bad and now all hate the Old Man.

The second story involves Ralph and the Old Man.  He wants to teach Ralph how to fish, but there is only one good spot on the entire lake where the fish bite.  So every fishing boat is in one spot, literally banging against each other, in this huge lake.  The first time they go out, neither Ralph, the Old Man, nor his two fishing buddies catch anything.  The next time they go out, they do much better.  Ralph and the fishing buddies are catching everything in the lake, but the Old Man's line got tangled in someone else's line, and by the time it got untangled, the fish stopped biting.  He didn't catch a single fish.  They went home with about 2 dozen fish, and everyone had a great fish dinner. 

At the end of the movie, Ralph said this was the best summer of his life.

Thanks Steve!