OK, so even I saw this movie as a kid. I might not be as well versed in Home Alone as most of my friends, but I saw it roughly when it was released. I take some pride in that, given how many kids’ classics I haven’t seen or am just now seeing for the first time. Then again, this is such a silly movie… maybe I should be embarrassed about that.
Home Alone is just such a weird movie to have achieved the level of fame that it has. It’s a fun family comedy, but let’s not pretend like it’s anything more than slightly better than most films of the genre. What made audiences feel that this one was something special– to the tune of over $477 million dollars at the box office– has always perplexed me. Maybe it’s because this is a John Hughes film. Maybe it’s because young Macaulay Culkin was actually able to carry most of the movie by himself. Maybe it’s because people really love Christmas movies. I suspect it’s a combination of all of these factors, but still… it’s really weird.
Obviously so much of this movie was implausible when it was released (only a few of the booby traps set feel like something a kid would devise), but its age has made a lot of the plot feel foreign. There are many mishaps presented here that are now easily solved by cell phones or the internet. If the McCallister family were flying today they would never have made their flight to Paris in the first place thanks to airport security. And I could never imagine a kid getting forgotten at home in this age of helicopter parenting.
Still, I have to admit that this movie is adorable. Culkin gives a great performance, especially when he’s playing a venerable and scared kid. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern strike a perfect balance between being hammy, slightly inept robbers and coming across as genuinely scary when the situation calls for it. I’ve never been a fan of the second half of the movie and all the slapstick violence, but some of it is funny.
And it’s a Christmas movie. Everyone likes a Christmas movie, right?
The film that launched Macaulay Culkin into the stratosphere is still a lot of fun, even over 20 years later. Culkin is a cutie as the young boy who thinks his Christmas wish to make his family disappear comes true after they inadvertently leave him home alone.
Culkin plays Kevin McCallister. The youngest member of his large family who always feels like he’s being crapped on by the older kids and his parents. The night before they are meant to leave for Christmas in Paris, Kevin causes an accident fighting with his older brother Buzz and wishes his family would disappear. As a punishment he is sent to sleep in the attic on his own (this seems quite harsh, but whatever). In the morning, his family sleep in and during the ruckous forget Kevin is in the attic and head to Paris without him. When Kevin wakes up, he thinks his wish came true and his family has disappeared. Kevin begins to treat the home as it was his own, eating junk food and watching scary movies he would never have been allowed to do when his family still existed. Complicating Kevin’s new independence are a pair of bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) hoping to rob Kevin’s home as they know the family is meant to be in Paris. Kevin must defend his house and sets up a trail a booby traps throughout the home to make sure they never come back.
This film is a lot of fun, but I will admit it is only really good for the last half an hour. Watching the two dumb robbers trek through Kevin’s fun house is by far the highlight of the film. It feels sometimes like a live action Looney Tunes cartoon, where Kevin has access to everything ACME ever invented. Outside of this last sequence, the film can get a bit boring. What saves it is Culkin. He gives a great performance as the kid left home alone and it is easy to see why this film made him one of the highest paid child stars of all time. He is very charming and likable, you do feel for him always getting crapped on by his family.
Home Alone is technically a Christmas film, but it is one of those films I think that just happens to be set during Christmas time.
Home Alone is a funny film. A weak middle is saved by a hilarious end sequence and a charming performance from youngster Macaulay Culkin.
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