In the movie A Christmas Story, big Ralphie narrates his Christmas tale from off-screen, but in the musical A Christmas Story and in A Christmas Story Live, audiences are treated to a present narrator Ralphie, walking around on stage and making things generally more enjoyable. In the case of A Christmas Story Live, that narrator is Matthew Broderick. This man must really enjoy breaking the fourth wall, because Matthew Broderick's Christmas Story character is basically Ferris Bueller — just all grown up.
Ferris Bueller stokes nostalgia for many, because the lead character of the 1986 John Hughes-directed film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is like, the coolest teenager of all time. Sorry, James Dean. Sorry, Fonzie. It's all about Ferris and his out-of-the-box but lovable antics. If you haven't seen the film, the gist is this: Matthew Broderick, aka Ferris Bueller, skips a day of his senior year of high school via a series of hijinks, in order to have the best day ever in the nearby city of Chicago. He brings his girlfriend, Sloan, and his best friend, Cameron, along for the ride, and the movie is punctuated with Ferris' constantly breaking the fourth wall to comment on the situation at hand. That and the score (chick-a, chick-a) are the most memorable things about the movie. Oh, and that amazing car that they steal from Cameron's dad.
To compare Ferris Bueller to old Ralphie is pretty easy, as old Ralphie in A Christmas Story Live! does nothing but break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. His whole role is to do that. Unlike Ferris, though, old Ralphie doesn't talk to his former self and family, because that would be pretty weird. More than a few Twitter users noticed this parallel in Broderick's career:
I don't know if all the people who commented are millenials, but I can speak for myself when I say that millenials love nostalgia, and this connecting of past and present is right up my alley. Save Ferris!
Broderick loves being a part of A Christmas Story Live, and he loves his new role. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Broderick described the ins and outs of his life during rehearsals. He said:
"I’m present, but I don’t talk to anybody. They don’t know I’m there, so I don’t actually get to act with anybody. I’m describing what they’re doing, so I am paying attention to them but nobody talks to me. And I watch everybody rehearse basically... I can actually describe what I’ve just seen, which is kind of nice, rather than being off in a room. … It’s such a big tool in the original movie in that it sets the tone of being a subversive take on Christmas."
It's funny to think of A Christmas Story as a "subversive take on Christmas" because it is so a part of the American canon of Christmas stories, but it's sort of true. In the same interview, Broderick and co-stay Maya Rudoloph joked about combining musical theater (remember when he was in The Producers?) and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. "I’d be excited for the “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller” song," said Rudolph. "It’s all one note. I’m getting ideas just as we’re speaking — this is great," replied Broderick.
In A Christmas Story, all Ralphie wants is that Red Ryder BB gun that all the adults keep warning he'll shoot his eye out with. What was Broderick's most-wanted Christmas present? "There was a red bicycle that I really wanted," he told the New York Daily News, "and I wasn’t sure my parents knew. I did get it, but I remember lying in bed petrified that I wouldn’t.”
This year, it seems like Broderick and Ralphie both got what they wished for — one heck of a Christmas musical. Now, we just need a Ferris Bueller one too.