Home Alone (1990)

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in Christmas Treats (Other Than Your Aunt Mildred's Gingersnaps) | 0 comments


Disclaimer: A few ripe words and some cartoonish violence.

The rapid, record-breaking success at the box office ($533 million worldwide) quickly made this mindless holiday flick ripe for parody. And there’s plenty to mock (like most John Hughes films), starting with the image of Macaulay Culkin holding his hands to his cheeks and making like Edvard Munch (that would be a reference to “The Scream”) after putting on aftershave – shown not once, but twice during the movie and shamelessly used for the cover. That aside, it’s still entertaining, especially for youngsters.

Though Chris Columbus directed it, homealone2Brat Pack creator Hughes (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles) wrote the screenplay, which once again takes us to Illinois. Hughes worked with budding child actor Culkin a year earlier on Uncle Buck (and John Candy makes a great cameo here), and suggested the tow-headed smart aleck once again. The role proved so successful that the 10 year-old landed roles in Jacob’s Ladder, My Girl, and a Home Alone sequel (others had different stars). By the time he made Richie Rich in 1994, Culkin was raking in $8 million a role – not too shabby.

The story unfolds on a wealthy Chicago subdivision and inside a three-story brick house. About a dozen children (and their parents) are excitedly packing because the next morning they’ll be flying to France for the holiday. That’s where we meet Kevin (Culkin), the youngest child in his family at 8, who’s panicking because he has never packed his own suitcase. “You’re what the French call les incompétents,” his sister says ridiculously. “You’re such a disease,” his brother echoes. Then, during dinner, everyone eats Kevin’s favorite pizza and he starts a fight. “Look what you did you little jerk,” his uncle says to complete the film’s trifecta of unintentionally funny lines.

So his parents (John Heard and homealone3Catherine O’Hara) send Kevin to bed, and he’s a little pissed, so he tells his mother, “Everyone in this family hates me!”

“Why don’t you ask Santa for a new family?” she responds.

“I don’t want a new family; I don’t want any family; families suck!” he says.

So the already contrived plot turns into a “be careful what you wish for” morality tale as the family accidentally leaves him home alone. He loves it at first, because he can eat junk, jump on beds, watch filth, read Playboy, and go sledding down the stairs. But soon he comes face-to-face with some of the scary stuff that shows its ugly face when you’re home alone, such as a creepy old man (Roberts Blossom), the furnace, and a couple of bungling burglars – tall and slender Marv (Daniel Stern) and short and stout Harry (Joe Pesci). As Kevin rapidly learns responsibility (this all occurs in less than a week), he also learns self defense as he sadistically tortures the burglars in a neverending display of slapstick violence (even The Three Stooges would scoff).

It’s not a great movie by any means, but it’s entertaining enough when you’ve had too many cookies and prefer vegging out on the couch to socializing with the relatives you only see once a year.

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