Chris Colombus’ Home Alone is one of my favourite Christmas movies of all time. Some of you may ask but why? Well, part of me doesn’t know why really. When you think about it, it is rather a silly movie but I laugh every time.
Little Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is left home alone when his family accidentally leaves him behind over the the Christmas holidays after rushing out to catch a plane to France. Kevin being one of the youngest in a rather large family appears helpless, demanding, and a bit of a nuisance to his family as they are busy getting ready to leave for the trip the night before. He’s sent to the attic to sleep (his room is being used by other family members going on the trip), and then is subsequently forgotten the next day. The whole family sleeps in due to a power outage and rush to the airport. Kevin must learn to fend for himself and protect his home from a pair of burglers. Slapstick and hilarity ensue.
Macaulay Culkin as Kevin is so cute in this movie. He is charming and just plain adorable. I love the scene where he goes to the grocery store. In real life no child could get away with being in a grocery store, but when Culkin puts on the charm making the audience and everyone around him forget that he is only 7 years old.
Catherine O’Hara still manages to bring her zesty energy to the role as the concerned mother and leaves all the comedy to Kevin and the robbers. Joe Pesci as Harry Lime may have been the lead villain, but Daniel Stern playing Marv Merchants stands out for me. Harry is incredibly malicious, but Marv is, for lack of a better word, an idiot which is a charming quality in this film.
When I think back to my childhood and watching Home Alone, I get a sense that the reason I am so drawn to this movie is that it brings me back to that time. A time when I sat and watched this film with my dad and we both cracked up together. Along with movies like Christmas Vacation (1989) and A Christmas Story (1983), it was a new Christmas movie for a new generation. What made these films new and different to those that came before them were that they were slapstick dark comedies. A large percentage of 80’s and 90’s comedies fell into either or both of these genres. It is a genre I remember well and hold dear but it is also one that is rarely done well, especially in this day and age.
The other thing that I really adore about this movie is how it deals with the idea of the Christmas miracle. The miracle in Home Alone happens more out of happenstance than from an actual supernatural intrusion. The lessons learned are all result from chance. Kevin wishes in front of his mother that he didn’t have a family. He is sent to his room. A storm rages outside that cuts the power and phone lines which in turn make the McCallisters late for their plane to France. Kevin is then left home alone to learn to take care of himself. It is because of this that Kevin learns the importance of having a family and his family realizes that they were taking their youngest for granted. There is no magic or wishing star, it is by pure coincidence and through circumstances that the characters grow. There is a logic that the average person can relate to. I find that both endearing and fascinating. Outside of all the comedy and slapstick the film is about family and not taking each other for granted. It removes the traditional religious reasons for the holidays and focuses on the common family need to be together. Even though we would be able to survive without family we would miss them if they were ever not there.
For me, this is a stand alone Christmas movie. I do not need to see the rest of the Home Alone franchise films. They do not exist to me. If I want to see New York City at Christmas I would watch Elf. But that’s another write up for another day.