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Home Alone (1990)

November 28, 2009

7/10 Exercises in Bad Parenting

Gee whiz, child neglect has never been so much fun.

Home Alone is about an eight-year-old kid in Chicago whose family forgets his existence entirely when they all head out on their Christmas vacation to France and leave little Kevin McAllister at home by himself. He matures from brat to adolescent, eats lots of ice cream, watches R-rated movies, and fights off grown men that are trying to kill him.

Oh yeah, and apparently he says, “HOLY COW!” at some point or another. Can’t forget about that.

It was inevitable that I’d get around to reviewing this sooner or later being that there’s apparently some sort of TV alliance that decrees Home Alone be played on the hour, every hour, on every station from Thanksgiving through the end of January each year. This movie is utterly inescapable for anyone that isn’t Amish, but lucky for us electricity-usin’ folk, it’s also pretty funny every time.

Home Alone is a strange blend of adult and kiddie humor, which is probably why it freakin’ destroyed at the box office and subsequently doomed Macaulay Culkin to a life of obscurity – kid could cure cancer and people would still be asking him to make that face on the poster. This interesting mix works for the most part and does a good job of appealing to toddlers and fogies alike, but sometimes it misses the mark. The one scene I always find myself coming back to is when Kevin zip-lines over to his tree house, Daniel Stern looks out the window, doesn’t see Kevin, and proceeds to ask the peculiar question, “Do you think he committed suicide?

Anyone else catch that?

Maybe a little too dark that time, John Hughes.

In the long run, the whole plot line is pretty much a set-up for the final showdown between Kevin and the robbers, and even though a lot of that time is spent with Kevin just screwing around at home and tossing the joint, it’s all pretty entertaining. It’s fun being home alone, it’s fun watching kids do adult things. Just fun stuff all around.

But still, I’ve got some issues with this movie, none of which weigh into the rating I gave it (because typically I can’t stand it when people nitpick about movies like I’m about to do). So here it goes:

– This Kevin kid seems pretty smart. He sets up a lot of effective traps that I never would have thought of if I were in his shoes. Kinda strange considering he’s stupid enough to not just call the cops as soon as he overhears The Wet Bandits say, “Let’s go rob that kid’s house at 9 O’CLOCK!” Some may say this Kevin was a brave child, I find him to be quite the idiot in this regard.

– Kevin has that bonding session in the church with the creepy old man next door right before he sets up all his little boobytraps. Call me crazy, but this might be a perfect opportunity to maybe let Grandpa Time in on the whole break-in/potential child homicide that’s going down at his house later on that night. If I were a betting man, that Grandpa Time looks like the type who sleeps with a big ol’ gun under his pillow. Flying paint cans, my ass.

– Kevin’s mom spends a lot of time and effort trying to get back home to Kevin, yet not once does she resort to renting a car. Odd.

– Why didn’t Kevin’s mom just stay with the rest of the family instead of trying to book it back to Chicago? They all walk right through the front door five minutes after she does. Man, she must have felt stupid.

– Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci would be paralyzed from the neck down before they even reached the front/back door.

But then again, that’s not the point of Home Alone. Without these flaws you wouldn’t have a movie to begin with. After all, the best part is finally getting to see Stern and Pesci get the Three Stooges treatment at the hands of a child. Those fifteen/twenty minutes still crack me up and are enough to garner a 7 out of 10 on their own.

It’s not John Hughes’ best script, director Chris Columbus gets it done, the acting is fine – a solid John Candy cameo always helps the cause – and it’s got enough heart to keep it from being cheesy as all hell. Look, Home Alone‘s a Christmas classic. One of those things I can’t help but like.

True story: First time I saw this in theaters, ran right out of the theater screaming my head off the moment Kevin put that tarantula on Daniel Stern’s face. Good times.

And what ever happened to Daniel Stern? I liked him.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2009 6:02 am

    Home Alone is just great, a really fun movie.
    Stern is a legend – i loved him in Coupe de Ville
    have just wiki’ed him…
    he was the narrator of The Wonder Years? get out!
    and he turned down the role of Biff Tannen?

  2. November 30, 2009 6:17 am

    AND hes been in Monk.. so now hes officially a legend

  3. November 30, 2009 8:48 pm

    Hahahahahah, I was watching this film on TV as well, and wondering should I have done a review for this. Now, I guess I shoudn’t since both of our ratings and opinions would basically be the same. Nice Review though!! This and another John Hughes favorite Uncle Buck was watched throughout my house, and let’s just say he always makes my holidays a lot better.

  4. March 14, 2010 2:45 pm

    You know what Macaulay is up to these days? He’s sticking it to Mila Kunis on a daily basis, lucky bastard.

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