Home Alone is a 1990 American comedy movie directed by Chris Columbus with the writing and production credits going to John Hughes. It centres on Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), an errant and demeaned young boy who is unfortunately left behind by his family when they go for an overseas vacation and thus, upon the threat of two burglars, has to protect not only the house but himself as well.
Macaulay Culkin, for me, represents an actor who did a lot in his childhood but never really had his career airbourne long enough after an incredible take-off. I don’t want to come off as someone who is taking too much out of him and his talent given that he has been involved in a number of notable projects over the years, but nonetheless, I expected better. I expected him to grow into the modern day Adam Sandler, the modern day Chris Rock, the modern day Will Ferrell; I could go on and on all day.
Anyway, it is what it is but the mystery that will always be engrained in my psyche until an appropriate answer for it is found is why so many actors and actresses in Hollywood haven’t made the best out of their vocations given the projects that shot them into stardom. Just a few but very good examples include Tom Welling (Smallville), Mischa Barton (The O.C), Hayden Christensen (Star Wars)and Ron Weasley himself Rupert Grint (Harry Potter). Macaulay Culkin falls comfortably into the list given the incredible reception and eventual success of this 1990 film but eventual disability to keep up with his own pace going forward career-wise. That said let’s go down memory lane and delve into this $ 458 million-grossing masterpiece, shall we?
Being the fulcrum that a movie’s success is hinged on, Culkin’s character was exceptional portraying what many parents would dread but at the same time find favour in a child. He is very unstable with his emotions; has the guts to talk back to his mother and even go to the lengths of calling her a ‘Dumb Dumb’. The boy is naïve but in an adorable way; he genuinely wants his mom to explain to him why he can’t see a movie that he truly believes isn’t rated-r even though it is.
For someone his age, his dialogue is quite the gem but can get overboard at times as highlighted above with the mum drama. The character in question is a comedic genius; very apparent with his utterances. He says that when he grows up and gets married he is going to live alone; oblivious to the fact that the marriage institution involves living with a wife and kids.
Kevin is quite the pariah as well; sort of like a bad omen and that’s why a vast majority of his family don’t like him. A testament of this is the dining table scene where he is the cause of a big mess that ends up ruining the occasion at hand and that, for me, was a big contributor to why he is eventually left behind when the rest were hurriedly en route to Paris for a vacation. However, he is relatively unfazed by the inexcusable actions of his family because of two distinct reasons.
First off, he had been getting a lot of hate which he couldn’t bottle anymore; there’s a moment where he brainstorms about the ‘You’re what the French call “Les incompetantes” or the “Look what you’ve done, you’re such a joke” comments directed at him and hence realizes that the situation he is in is indeed a blessing in disguise. Secondly, you could argue that he had wished it upon himself earlier, sort of. Kevin’s level of responsibility is also askew in the eyes of his relatives more so his fellow siblings and cousins and thus the unprecedented opportunity to fend off these intruders is a way for him to inadvertently prove himself responsible and to showcase his ingenuity which he does to great effect.
Just to pick up on the latter statement, the innovative ways of Kevin in Home Alone pretty much mirrors what kids in that situation would never do irrespective of whether they have a high I.Q and in my view, that’s the beauty of it all. He thwarts every attempt at the robbers trying to break into the house in exquisite techniques filled with sheer comedic moments and that’s what this photoplay intends to sell to you, the audience. This, in a way, clouds the pity you ought to be feeling towards the predicament of this young child because come to think of it, Kevin is undeniably vulnerable and is subject to certain potential ills i.e. kidnapping or homicide in such a situation.
Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern who play the seasoned burglars in Harry and Stern respectively were comically phenomenal whenever they were on-screen. The ‘Nocturnal Mayhem’ scenes as I like calling them which they are very much included in were my best in the film, and understandably so. Harry’s accent was lovably awesome and as derogatory as this might sound, I could picture him in a clown outfit; that’s how good Joe is as this character. Merv, on the other hand, is Harry but considerably dumber; more like the moron of the duo which Harry spares no chance to remind him of. Both these characters are outsmarted by a mere toddler time and time again; I duly won’t mention the events in question and thus I really recommend that you see this film again even if it’s for particular moments. Trust me, its worth it.
On the flipside, I do have a pair of issues. To begin with, I was put off a bit by the fact that the ideal events that you go into this movie wanting to see took too long to get underway. Despite the fact that the film justifies the reason why; mainly because the time before the mayhem is characterized by some important subplots that act as a build-up of sorts to the happenings in the latter stages, I feel like the events could have come sooner, possibly in the 2nd Act.
My second one is not a substantial flaw, but an issue all the same that the editing team of this photoplay could have dealt with. The movie took a moment to show Kevin set up his plan to protect the house from the potential break-in; this, for me, shouldn’t have happened. We the viewers should have instead been kept in suspense on what was in store for the incoming mayhem; that would have made the movie juicier.
In conclusion, the paramount life lessons like the importance of family irrespective of their individual demeanour as well the importance of spreading the Christmas cheer to all without prejudice as seen in the church scene with Kevin and the Old man are, apart from the comedy, what I took away from watching Home Alone. A majority of the film’s aspects are pristine, especially the production design for the suburban Chicago house which takes up most of the film’s screen-time. Apart from the flaws I mentioned, which might not be someone else’s, there really isn’t much that you’ll dislike about this motion-picture, period.