Movie #80: Home Alone (1990)

Director: Chris Columbus

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, and John Candy

Academy Award Nominations (1991):

Best Music, Original Score: John Williams

Best Music, Original Song: John Williams (music), Leslie Bricusse (lyrics) For the song ‘Somewhere in My Memory’


Kevin McCallister (Culkin) is a pest to the rest of his family.  Eight years old and inquisitive as any 8-year-old can be, he always seems to be getting into trouble.  He wishes he didn’t have a family, and his wish came true, at least for a few days.  In a mad rush to get to the airport for a flight to Paris, the McCallisters leave Kevin at home alone.  Adjusting to life on his own, Kevin realizes and has to fight off the Wet Bandits, Harry (Pesci) and Marve (Stern), two thieves who are robbing all the homes in Kevin’s neighborhood while they’re on vacation.


This photo can sum up the entire movie.

No seriously.

Very few films, at least that I can think of, are so heavily dependent upon and driven by one character.  That character is a kid, which adds a unique dynamic to the film.  Watching it now, there’s a certain child-like wonder that makes this film enjoyable.  It’s also interesting to see how much the world has changed in the past 20 years.

John Hughes and Chris Columbus created a charming, witty story told with brute honesty and realism in the eyes of an 8-year-old.  There’s a reason why this film grossed over $500 million internationally.  Home Alone is fun for kids and entertaining for adults.

Though he had some prior acting experience, most notably as Miles Russell in Uncle Buck alongside John Candy, Macaulay Culkin became a household name with Home Alone.  Though he would fizzle out just 5 years later, his time as one of the most successful child actors was well-earned.  He embodied the child that his classmates would think was the greatest ever, but whose parents would dread having him over.  

Home Alone would not have been as successful with any other kid in the starring role.  Culkin had the quick wit and there was a nice balance of breaking the fourth wall with the audience, but he was still cute enough to be funny when he tried doing the things adults would do.


The sub plot with Marley (Blossom) was particularly touching.  His scene in the church with Kevin is probably one of my favorites in the movie.  You can see that each person has something they’re afraid of, and each helps the other out by seeing things from through the others eyes.

homealonepesci  Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern work great together.  Harry is clearly the brains of the operation, though it wouldn’t have taken much to be the brains over Marv.  They play two dimwitted petty criminals in such a way that they appear scary enough to children, but just entertaining enough for the rest of us.

Having cornered the young moviegoers market with films like The Breakfast Club, John Hughes created another gem that appealed to younger audiences, but was still fun enough for older audiences to enjoy.  I’ve taken some time to really let this film soak in.  It’s been years since I watched it, and the more I think about it, more critiques are coming to mind.

While Home Alone has some truly classic moments: Kevin putting on the aftershave, the classic one-liners, etc., they seem a little too over the top for me to enjoy now.   Perhaps I’m becoming more cynical and find Kevin to be more of a pest than anything else.  He’s funny, no doubt, but it could have been toned back a bit.

It’s interesting to watch it over 20 years after it originally came out and wonder how different the world is.  I believe there have been 5 films within this franchise.  I think I’ve seen the third one once, but I don’t think I’ll even bother with the other two, without Culkin, they seem kind of pointless in my opinion.

Home Alone is a fun film with a great lead character.   It’s a film I could see myself watching every few years around the holidays.  I would recommend it, but only in moderation can I enjoy it now.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.


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