If you were under the impression that Frosty the Snowman and the stop motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were competing for Christmas movie supremacy, you’d be woefully mistaken (…and if you’re a fan of stop motion animation, you’re also a little creepy). This festive fight to the death has always been between the two comedies A Christmas Story and Home Alone.

With consideration for all the tacky leg lamp replicas that appear on shelves this time of year, this may be a minority opinion, but I think A Christmas Story sucks.

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What is it about this movie? I can’t make it through one holiday season without overhearing someone reminisce about how A Christmas Story is his or her must-watch Christmas classic, how heartwarming and funny it is, or how somebody got lost in Peter Billingsley baby blue eyes—bah humbug! In my eyes, there’s only room for one enduring holiday movie, and that has been and always will be Home Alone. For me, there’s no comparing these two fa-la-la flicks, but since I know there are a lot of A Christmas Story believers, let’s deck these halls once and for all.

When I saw A Christmas Story for the first time, I knew something was off. I found myself overcome by an piercing feeling of revulsion for every single character that was introduced. It was only until I did a little research that I realized what the problem was: Ralphie’s family lives in Indiana.

We could end this article right here. Why would anyone want to watch a movie about a family who’s happily living in Illinois’ armpit? I can’t enjoy a film knowing that all poor Ralphie’s future holds is a teenage marriage to an aspiring dolphin trainer named Orca, whose qualifications for that job consists of swimming in a lake once and living in a blue trailer. It also goes without saying that Ralphie will eventually pawn off that stupid BB gun for anything other than dental care—perhaps a tattoo that reads, “Hoosier Daddy.”

Home Alone, on the other hand, is set in Winnetka, Illinois. Filming took place in the greater Chicago area, and it shows. The style of the houses and buildings makes the entire movie feel like a trip around the neighborhood for me. I think I speak for most of us when I say that when I watch a film whose sights are recognizable, I feel a special connection to the story because of that familiarity. …I think I speak for myself when I say I feel a deep connection to anything that doesn’t take place, fictionally or otherwise, in the state of Indiana.

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If we analyze the two families in these films based on their social class, we’d discover that Ralphie’s family (The Parkers) are a working class family, while Kevin’s family (the McCallisters) are clearly upper middle class. If you’re not from Illinois, you may not know that Winnetka is one of the wealthiest suburbs in America, and the median home value there is right around a million bucks. Lest we forget, Kevin gets left home alone because his entire family was too distracted with “setting the timer on the lights” before their holiday vacation to Paris to even notice the surly youngster was missing. In terms of relatibility, Ralphie’s accessible holiday exploits might have Kevin’s rich people problems beat. Unfortunately, Ralphie negates that by being a little prick for 93 minutes.

Ralphie spends the entire movie begging for that damn Red Ryder BB gun, and every adult warns him that, in his possession, said gun would result in him shooting his eye out. Once that little dipshit finally gets what he wanted all along, he nearly shoots his eye out. If I want to hear about someone getting mixed up in a self-fulfilling prophecy, I’ll look to Achilles, not some little blonde twerp. I’d whip a snowball right in his face, too. Unlike Ralphie, Kevin starts out as a pain in the ass, but by the end of the movie, he’s learned something important. Ralphie’s destiny fulfillment makes him a more tragic character.

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You might think Ralphie’s pretty tough because he beat the crap out of that schoolyard bully and took some soap to the mouth, but let’s remember that Kevin outsmarted two adult thugs with homemade booby traps. Kevin was dealing with Joe frickin’ Pesci trying to bust up in his house. You can’t tell me that dopey Ralphie could’ve come up with the paint can pendulum. Or the white-hot doorknob. The blowtorch. The dangerous trail of broken ornaments. The hot iron to the face! It takes a serious G to rig a house like that, and Ralphie would probably rather pout in his pink bunny pajamas.

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I suspect some of my bias might stem from when these movies were released. A Christmas Story, which was released November 18, 1983, feels like it was before my time. On the other hand, Home Alone was released almost exactly seven years later on November 16, 1990; those seven years make a difference for me. When I watch Home Alone, it feels so much more relevant than A Christmas Story. With A Christmas Story, I don’t have the same connection to the clothes, the humor, or the story. Sitting through Ralphie’s exploits always feels like I’m settling on watching some old movie because nothing else is on TV.

Finally, when it comes to memorable moments, I think Home Alone wins hands down. I know you A Christmas Story fans are probably thinking of the “fra-ghee-lay,” the leg lamp, or the grouchy Santa, but those pale in comparison to Home Alone’s, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal,” the after shave reaction, or the scene in the church when Kevin has a heart-to-heart with his scary neighbor. Maybe it’s my “Carol of the Bells” fetish talking, but just thinking of that old man talking about his granddaughter is making my heart grow two sizes too big. And what about when Kevin is finally reunited with his mom the end? That’s some Christmas movie magic right there. I’m almost tearing up.

Photo on 12-19-13 at 5.44 AM

For me, the superlative Christmas film is Home Alone. Watching that movie during the holidays has been a tradition for as long as I can remember, but what about you? Are you Team Home Alone or Team A Christmas Story? Or are you a die-hard fan of I’ll Be Home for Christmas with Jonathan Taylor Thomas?

78 thoughts on “The Battle for Christmas Movie Supremacy

      1. The Christmas story was set in 1947. I was six in 1947 and had some of the same problems as Ralphie. I remember when I finally got the Red Ryder carbine I shot a hole in a painting that hung over the couch. Put some gum in it and then wiped it with black ink and never heard any more about it. Lucky it was in a dark spot.

  1. Due to the marathons every year, I’ve seen A Christmas Story approximately 5,000 times, just not in sequential order. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever watched the movie straight through. It’s kind of better that way. I feel like I’m getting a special Quentin Tarantino cut or something.

    And Christmas Vacation blows both of these movies away.

    1. The marathons are out of control. I don’t want to see that movie once, let alone for 24 hours straight. I don’t see the appeal of Christmas Vacation, either, to be honest. I think it’s overrated.

    1. Ha! I do like watching Nutcracker when it’s on, but I have no idea which version or anything. I have “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in my iTunes library.

  2. I pick whichever movie makes me more bitter. So pretty much any movie in the last 10 years on the Hallmark Channel, ABC Family, or any of those other “modern” “romance” girl works too hard, has to go to home town to help save the family Christmas Tree Business and meets handsome, but unambitious home town fella and falls in love movies makes me the most bitter.

    1. Oh my goodness, the movies about the Christmas romance are the worst. There’s a new one every year, and they’re seriously only getting more awful as they go. Did you see The 12 Dates of Christmas? Could Zach Morris sink no lower?

  3. Too be honest, I think both movies suck. I thought Home Alone was great as a child, but not so much now. My must see movies are National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and The Santa Claus. That’s where it’s at.

    1. The Santa Claus I like, but I could’ve easily written this about National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, too. I found it to be really annoying and charmless. My boyfriend loves it, though.

  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Everyone here always says Love Actually or Christmas Vacation. And I’m like, bitch please. Home Alone is the best! You and I might have a special connection because of Chicago, but still. I’m also pretty fond of the animated version of The Grinch.

    1. Seriously, I think I picked the wrong movie here, because I don’t get the Christmas Vacation hype, either. That movie is annoying. I like The Grinch, too. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I enjoy the Jim Carrey version, too.

      1. Lol! I can’t get past his makeup in that one. I am found of Jingle All the Way starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad though…it’s terrible but amazing at the same time.

  5. (gasping) Wha….? I could barely read past the line “A Christmas Story sucks”

    This is the movie that brought me and my husband together, we both love it that much. But after having watched it a million times, I am getting sick of it. (I kid, I still love it)

    As for Home Alone? My husband’s all-time fave movie. He watches it nonstop. I’ll have to ask him to choose between the two movies and see if his head explodes.

    1. It’s so funny you say that, because my boyfriend texted me this morning after he saw this and told me to prepare for a backlash of verbal beatings because saying A Christmas Story sucks is like shitting on a flag. LOL!

      I’ve just never been into it. I bet your husband would pick Home Alone, if he had to choose. He sounds like a reasonable man. 🙂

      1. You are correct. I was just talking to him on his cell and he didn’t hesitate, it’s Home Alone.

        I can totally understand why a person wouldn’t like A Christmas Story. Some people also don’t like puppies and babies. (you know I’m just teasin’ ya…haha)

      1. Oh Katie, it’s the penultimate gorgeous Christmas story (but I watch it all year round) chock full of fabulous actors!

  6. HAHA I’ll be home for Christmas! Just saw that on Netflix over the weekend and was hurled back to 8th grade on a wave of shame/nostalgia. Shamestalgia? National Lampoon and It’s a Wonderful Life FTW!

    1. Shamestalgia is officially my new favorite word. I don’t get the National Lampoon fascination, either! I’d rather watch I’ll Be Home for Christmas for eternity than that one.

  7. I loathe every second of A Christmas Story and I think you’ve hit the nail of the head with this one. It’s not a feel good movie to me at all. Ralphie is a whiny bitch who deserves what he gets. The terrible part is that both my dads (Bio and Step) LOVE A Christmas Story and play it incessantly.

    I think what bothers me about both movies is how out of touch the parents are with their sons lives. I get that it’s part of the premise of the movie, but try telling that to 10 year old me. When Kevin’s parents left him, I was LIVID. Where was the rest of his family? How about family friends? Logical-child-Katie could not deal with this.

    1. Right! Ralphie totally sucks. I wasn’t rooting for him at all. I will admit the whole Home Alone thing definitely has gotten a little more ridiculous now that I’m older. When I was watching it the other day and Joe Pesci was black flipping down the icy front stairs, I did catch myself narrowing my eyes like, “Really?”

  8. Nope, neither is the best Christmas movie. I can’t sit through either or those or It’s a Wonderful Life either. My go to Christmas movies are Donavan’s Reef with John Wayne and While You Were Sleeping with Bill Pullman.

    1. I’ve never heard of either of those! My mom hates</em? It's a Wonderful Life. Every year I joke that her favorite Christmas movie is on with that one. She thinks it's depressing.

  9. Um… I think we are forgetting “It’s a Wonderful Life” – truly the only must-watch Christmas movie. Though, “Love Actually” is a close second.

    However, I will watch “Christmas Story” once every year… because it’s unavoidable. At some point it will be on every single channel, and it will be either watch it or turn the TV off. And, I can’t turn the TV off, can I? Right. I actually have watched all four of these movies already this year. Maybe that’s the way to do it… watch them all, because they all offer something unique. Grouchy Santa, aftershave reaction, the Portuguese proposal, and “Good for you, Clarence.”

    1. I’ve honestly never seen Love Actually. I don’t mind It’s a Wonderful Life, but I generally never watch it because my mom positively hates it. She thinks it’s depressing.

      I think it’s completely unjust that A Christmas Story gets that 24-hour marathon on Christmas Eve. That should be Home Alone. If they did a 24-hour marathon of It’s a Wonderful Life, they’d only have to play it twice. 🙂

      1. Twice? Come on… it’d be four times, at least. 😉
        Have you seen the Friends episode where Phoebe watches all the depressing movies from her childhood that her mom never her watch the end of? And then Monica gives her It’s a Wonderful Life, but Phoebe turns it off before the end. Sure, it’s 3 hours of depressing stuff, but the last scene is so uplifting it makes up for the rest. I can’t keep my eyes from leaking a bit every time I watch it. It just happens.
        A 24 hour Home Alone marathon would result in too many kids trying to duplicate the antics in their own homes. It’s probably against a law somewhere to show the movie too many times in a short period.
        I definitely recommend Love Actually. I know some people think it is cheesy, and it is, but it’s the right kind of cheesy. Plus, the music is great. There are a couple original pieces that were made for the movie that really carry the emotions in the scenes.

      2. I’ll have to check it out. I’m not anti-Love Actually, I just haven’t gotten around to watching it just yet.

        HA! You’re probably right about Home Alone. But at least that movie doesn’t have any kind of guns in it? I think my mom has kind of brainwashed me about It’s a Wonderful Life. The length is a killer for me, too.

  10. It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf are my faves! I never liked A Christmas Story. I tried to like it, but no matter how hard I tried it just didn’t grow on me.
    The first Home Alone was brilliant!
    Happy New Year!

    1. That’s the experience I had with A Christmas Story, too. I just don’t get the appeal! Home Alone will always be my favorite.

      Happy New Year to you, too!

    1. I’m not a fan of Will Ferrell’s, so Elf is hard for me to deal with. I don’t think I’ve seen Four Christmases, but that just reminded me that Christmas with the Kranks wasn’t so bad. With Tim Allen?

      Okay, maybe it was awful, but I still liked it because it brought back some Home Improvement memories.

      1. If your family has any type of crazy dysfunction, you must watch Four Christmases. Vince Vaughn and Reece Witherspoon. They get stuck on Christmas going to his dad’s, her mom’s, his mom’s, and her dad’s. Very Funny!

  11. I’ve never been tempted to watch A Christmas Story. Between that and Love, Actually, we now have 2 holiday movies we agree on! Having lived in Hinsdale where parts of Home Alone were taped, of course I’m a fan. My all time fave, though? White Christmas.

    1. I think it makes a big difference seeing familiar places in a movie. Home Alone just reminds me a lot of home every time I watch it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen White Christmas.

      1. Oh, it’s an old musical classic. And you’re right…familiarity to setting does impact our responses to movies. Heck, almost all those John Hughes movies were staples for those of us who grew up in IL, and not just for the story lines. Adventures in Babysitting? Loved that I knew exactly which building they were scaling. Transformers 2? I kept pointing to spots I’ve been. 🙂

  12. It’s not that I’ve had to think about it for over three months, because my mind is set on the matter, but I just started blogging a couple of weeks ago and it took me a little less than that to get hooked on your work.

    “A Christmas Story”.
    For me, the choice was simple. Not that I didn’t enjoy “Home Alone”, because any movie in which Joe Pesci gets the snot knocked out of him by some kid who grows up to front a “Velvet Underground” cover band that only sings about pizza … you gotta love it.
    But “A Christmas Story” came from a collection of short stories by a guy named Jean Shepherd, a humorist I used to listen to for forty-five minutes on the radio every weeknight for four or five years. Might I mention this was in the age of television, but Shep didn’t come on till after my theoretical bedtime and I’d stach my transistor radio under my pillow to listen to his tales.
    Okay … so Shep was raised in Indiana. I have no idea what you might have against Indiana, but there’s nothing that comes to mind that would make me find you attitude about the state at all offensive or irritating. I can’t say that I like Indiana. As a matter of fact, I haven’t really given Indiana enough thought to have no opinion on it.
    But I was raised in Jersey, so it’s deeply ingrained that there’s not much to dislike about any of the other forty-nine of them.
    And (giving credit where credit is due) Indiana DID give us David Letterman and Shep. One of them is a television icon, the other a national treasure …
    … if only people realized that about Shep. If only enough people even knew about him.
    He’s actually my favorite writer. Having heard him tell a lot of his stories on the radio, I can hear his voice any time I re-read one of his many works, but the way he writes was meant to be heard, not read, and even if it’s not his voice over the airwaves, it’s somebody else’s you hear as you turn the pages.
    I heard a voice other than mine when I started reading a number of your posts. Your easy-going, conversational style reminds me of Shep in ways and has always been the most comfortable approach for me (which caused some problems when I was working for the D.A.’s office drafting letters and journal notes).
    But you have to check out some of Shep’s works: “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”, “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories”, and the timeless ode to Fourth of July Americana, “Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb that Struck Back”.
    Just wanted to introduce you to Shep in the event you’ve never “met” him.
    Let we gleefully skip through some more of your work (which I’m following) before I feel justified (and slightly less creepy) in contacting you to sing your literary praises in hopes of making you blush.
    Shouldn’t take too long.

    1. Welcome! And thank you so much for all your kind words! I really appreciate hearing it. I put a lot of time and effort into this blog, and when I hear people enjoy what they’re reading, it makes it all worth it.

      I didn’t know that A Christmas Story came from a collection of short stories. Maybe if I had read those, I wouldn’t be so hard on it. As a movie, it just doesn’t do anything for me. I think I’ll always have this special connection with Home Alone.

      1. Way too many people haven’t ever heard of Jean Shepherd (he was also the narrator of “A Christmas Story”) and in my humble – while very biased – opinion, “The Wonder Years” owes a great deal of debt to “A Christmas Story” and to much of his dramatized work.
        You can find some of his stuff on You Tube also. Quite a bit of his work was adapted for PBS shows and they give you a real feeling of The Man… The Writer… SHEP!!!!!
        One of the fondest memories from my wonder years and a great influence on the dribble I write.

        But keep us going with your incredible work. I almost get the feeling that after a few months of reading your blog I’ll likely know exactly what you sound like.
        Maybe not exactly.
        Almost exactly.
        Maybe.

        And if you or anyone in your family are Cubs fans, send them my love.
        I had to suffer through my portion of 86 years as a Red Sox fan.
        Take care.

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