Capitalizing on 'A Christmas Story'

15282__billingsley_lIt’s a Wonderful Life?  An American classic, indisputably. But for some of us, the movie that speaks to the kind of holiday experience we know better is A Christmas Story, the 1983 Jean Shepherd flick that proved that life is not so much Wonderful as Blunder-ful. Tongues stick to frozen flagpoles, dads yell a lot, and Santa brings heinous pink footie pajamas instead of the “official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle” of our dreams.

One of the best things about ACS (starring Peter Billingsley, pictured) has always been its lack of holly-strewn sentiment: the light that shines brightest in it is not the standard glow of lovingly-strung Christmas bulbs, but the wanton plastic leg lamp, wrapped in fishnet and saucily topped with bordello tassels, that Ralphie Parker’s dad so proudly displays in the family-room window. It’s funny, then, to see the film become the focus of so much commercial attention this season. A current ad for Cingular Wireless lifts and condenses the plot wholesale in a mere 30 seconds, replacing the coveted rifle with a cellphone; the maddening refrain "you’ll shoot your eye out" is switched to the considerably less gory "you’ll run the minutes up." National retailer OfficeMax, in the meantime, has not one but two ACS-inspired online games: and

addCredit(“A Christmas Story: Photofest”)

It all sounds kind of crass to us, but if gets you to buy a new stapleror switch your calling plan, carry on, mega-corps. We prefer a morehomespun tribute: A 30-year-old fan and former Navy lieutenant inCleveland named Brian Jones has bought and restored the original house from the movie, and he’s started offering toursthis week, which he plans to continue running whether or not he makeshis money back. And hey, he also sells reproductions of those famouslyleggy lamps. They beat pink footie pajamas any day.

Comments (19 total) Add your comment
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  • Debbie

    Just a minor correction to your article. Santa did not bring the pink bunny pajamas. They were a gift that Ralphie’s aunt made for him.

  • elliot

    Those two sites rock. I laughed my arse off playing, and that is inspired. You should roll over the officemax tab on those sites if you want a real surprise. It gets better.

  • Danna

    The first time I was forced to watch this horrible movie I remember praying that someone would buy that annoying kid a freaking gun so he would shoot his eye out. I loathe the very core of that movie.

  • LYNN


  • ep sato

    My moment of crass commercialism: Ralphie should have asked for a 300 Watt Scooter Stereo, like the ones I make for Vespas…
    Seriously, I love that movie. And it was overcommercialized years ago when Ted Turner Decided to run the movie 24 hours a day on X mas day a few years ago. I am super psyched to watch ralphie get kicked in the face by Santa yet again. And I gotta agree that Lux is by far the worst tasting soap to get the old mouth washed out with.

  • ag

    I love the 24-hour marathon. I watch it at least twice all the way through, and then just sort of leave it on in the background for a few more hours during the day, sometimes on mute with Christmas carols on the radio…
    *Sigh* Good times…

  • Dmac87

    How dare they ruin the sancitity of this moive. Its almost an abomination!!!!!!! Haha this movie is so fun to watch during its marathon leading up to christmas day. Oh the joys!

  • Amber

    I can’t wait for the 24 hour marathon!

  • Amye

    The Christmas Story house/museum just opened this past weekend in Cleveland. It features replica items from the movie including the pedestal bathroom sink, the stove, wall phone & the infamous leg lamp. It’s painted back to its movie colors, also.
    This is the actual house the movie was filmed in.

  • aa

    the commercial tickles me and has actually made my son want to join me for the marathon.

  • Slammy

    [sarcasm alert]
    Re-working A Christmas Story into a commercial is an act of desecration akin to the defacing of Picasso’s Guernica.

  • ceej

    Now I know how my parents felt when beatle’s songs became car commercial themes.

  • AJH

    Is nothing sacred anymore!?!?!?!?

  • jane

    You people make me laugh. “Sanctity” and “desecration” are not words I would associate with this movie. Sure the tongue on the pole scene is funny and the kid actually shooting his eye out after all of that setup was deserves a chuckle, but the movie as a whole didn’t work for me. It’s cute eyeroller, but I can only sit through it if I’m distracted with other things, like cooking, ironing, darning socks, cleaning out the chimney… Even then it’s just passable.

  • t3hdow

    The commericals are really lame and kinda waters down the film. I gotta admit though, the 24 hour marathons is when I first watched A Christmas Story and I watch the marathons every year since (except last year, because I was at my grandma’s house for Christmas and she has no cable).

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