Movie Review: Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara & John Heard

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Home Alone

Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Production Company: Hughes Entertainment
Director: Chris Columbus
Producer: John Hughes
Scriptwriter: John Hughes
Main Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara & John Heard
Released: November 16 1990
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Certificate: PG

Home Alone is a movie that will always have an enduring legacy. Its relatively low budget, combined with a cast that hardly screamed “star power”, seemed destined for minor success at best. Instead, it quickly became an iconic family-friendly motion picture that would make a huge star out of Macaulay Culkin. And three decades on, Home Alone is still an all-time classic Christmas film.

Synopsis

Eight-year-old Kevin McAllister, played by Culkin, is one member of a large family. The McAllisters, plus their aunts, uncles and cousins, are preparing to spend the holiday season in France. The night before, amidst the chaos of preparation, the mischeivious Kevin gets in trouble and is sent to the attic. He spends the night there, and amidst a power cut, the McAllisters end up rushing to the airport. Only problem is, they forget about Kevin, who eventually wakes up and realises he is, yes, Home Alone.

Now, Kevin had previously expressed a desire to not have a family, so in theory, his dream has come true. There are minor concerns along the way, but all in all, Kevin is loving life all on his own. That is, until he realises that two petty thieves are hanging around, ready to strike the McAllister’s home. Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) are threatening yet foolish burglars, who soon realise that Kevin is the only person in the house. But unbeknownst to him, Kevin is smart, and he prepares to keep the burglars at bay in unforgettable fashion.

You may be asking “well, what about the parents?” It’s only mid-flight when Kevin’s mother Kate (Catherine O’Hara) realises that their son isn’t with them. For what it’s worth, the father, Peter (John Heard), and the other relatives appear to be less concerned. Kate is, though, and she is dismayed to discover a minimum two-day wait to fly back to Chicago, Illinois. But even when she manages to get on a separate flight to the United States, she is left stuck in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With all this drama, will Kate return home to Kevin’s side in time for Christmas? And what if Harry and Marv loot the McAllister house before then?

Analysis

On paper, Home Alone could be presented in a number of ways. A thriller with a spine-chilling edge, a horror boasting frightening scares, or a drama emphasising the true meaning of Christmas. But it works best in its primary form; a comedy with plenty of laughs and a lot of heart. Macaulay Culkin is perfect as Kevin McAllister, often demonstrating naughty behaviour yet remaining sympathetic and loveable. Joe Pesci is more famous for his roles in Raging Bull and Goodfellas, but his Harry character remains timeless. As for Daniel Stern as Marv, one only needs to see his face to receive a reminder of this movie.

Though the premise is mostly light and there are lots of moments to make the kids laugh, the underlying message about the importance of love and togetherness is the backbone of the film. And this is what helps to capture the attention of the adults, including those who may have seen this movie many times before. For the young ‘uns, though, the highlight has to be the extensive confrontation between Kevin and the two burglars. I’m sure you’re already familiar with what goes down, but if you’re not, you’re in for a treat. Some of the situations may seem over-the-top, but it’s a family Christmas film with an edge. I think we can forgive them for occasionally hindering the suspension of disbelief.

Summary

Home Alone is one of the best family movies, and one of the best Christmas movies, ever. Many prefer its sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, and I wouldn’t criticise them for that. But you can’t have a sequel without first laying the foundations with the original. And if you’ve never seen Home Alone before, I urge you to see it as soon as possible. For those who have previously watched it, check it out again (and again).

Notes

Target Audience: Ages 8+
Content: Infrequent Mild Language, Comic Violence
Recommendation?: Yes

Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect

Further Details

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