Home Alone (1990)

As the days start getting colder and Wal-Mart starts selling plastic Christmas trees and expensive toys, I’ve been looking forward to re-watching a classic. There is no other movie out there that gets me in the holiday mood quite like Home Alone. It has everything one could ask for in a holiday movie: sentiment, well-timed humor, and plenty of action. Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) is a hero to all kids out there who feel overlooked in big families. Kevin gets an opportunity most of us only dream of: to hang out in a big house, eat tons of food, and watch old movies like Angels with Filthy Souls (a parody of Angels with Dirty Faces, filmed especially for Home Alone). However, burglars Marv and Harry (Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci), also known as the Wet Bandits, throw a wrench into Kevin’s plans. It’s up to Kevin to defend his house against the invaders with only his wits to depend on.

Kevin manages to remain one step ahead of Marv and Harry. Part of his power comes from Marv and Harry’s underestimation of him.  To them, Kevin is just a kid, but he soon proves he’s capable of thwarting them. Kevin plays a game of cat and mouse with Marv and Harry, luring the burglars into traps he strategically plants throughout the house. The traps are the heart of Home Alone; they’re what make the film so unique—they’re also probably the aspect of the movie most people remember best. Who can forget the paint cans? Or the scene where Harry’s head catches on fire? Looking back, I guess these traps sound a little gruesome. But the Looney Tunes approach to the violence makes it all so incredibly silly.

Home Alone covers a broad range of comedic techniques from funny one-liners to slapstick. It’s the lightheartedness, the comedy that keeps the movie from teetering into more dramatic territory. There is some dark humor, though. For example, a line that slipped by me as a kid but seems awfully sinister now: when Harry and Marv are looking for Kevin and Marv says, “Maybe he committed suicide.” That’s a pretty dark line—but it’s immediately softened by Kevin’s response: “I’m over here you big horse’s ass.” Home Alone is a movie both kids and adults can enjoy on several different levels. Order a large plain cheese pizza, get the BB gun ready, and kick off the holiday season by revisiting Home Alone.

Meghan Cannistra is a college student majoring in English.  Along with watching movies, she loves to read and write and enjoys fairy tales, ghost stories, and comic books.  When she isn’t busy chasing her two cats, Doom and Gloom, around the house she is browsing Netflix for something good to watch.  Check out her Figment page, as well as her blog, Ink Stained Octopus

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