Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Thirteen Posts Of Christmas: #03: Movie Review: Home Alone (1990)

 Home Alone (1990) is a good-natured family comedy from my childhood that still entertains twenty years later. It is the story of what happens to a young, obnoxious little boy, Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin), when he wishes he could just live alone. While rushing to board a plane to France, Kevin's parents inadvertently leave their son home alone, and the kid finds out first-hand that dreams sometimes come true. While fun at first, Kevin soon realizes that the world he wanted can turn nasty in a heartbeat.

Reality isn't the only antagonist in this new world. A pair of bumbling burglars, played wonderfully by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci have their sights set on Kevin's house and the treasure trove of goods within. Much of the story revolves around a cat-and-mouse battle for survival as the criminals repeatedly attempt to rob the house.
As a kid, I would have to say I found the Tom & Jerry aspects the most appealing. Watching it all come to a head in his little fun house of torture was everything it could be for a nine-year-old. I still remember getting the VHS and ripping it open to find the cheesy little blueprint of his madness. Fun stuff.
Watching it now, I think it is the human connections that get to me the most. The old man and his son, Kevin's mother (played to beautifully by Catherine O'Hara) going berserk trying to get home to her son, and the always great-and-mighty John Candy's comforting presence in the back of the Budget Rental van.
Home Alone strikes many mature themes throughout, focusing on maturity, security, and judging others. It teaches us to face our fears, even at the risk of failure. It states that loneliness is no substitute for happiness.
Chris Columbus directs a John Hughes script with a fairly heavy twinkle that makes the film a must-see during the Christmas season. Hughes was a genius at blending comedy with a serious tone and it comes through masterfully here.
One thing I noticed this year that I hadn't seen previously is a certain weakness of relationship between father McCallister (John Heard) and his son. Keep an eye on the reunion scene, as it seems he could really give a damn that his son is okay. A slight hug, a well-wish, then--? Sort of interesting, especially as it is coupled shortly by the reunion scene between the old man and his son next door. Maybe it is the foreshadow of a falling out to come.
Overall, Home Alone is a second-tier modern Christmas classic that can be shared yearly by any age group.
For Its Genre/Era/X: Great
Overall: Really Good
P.S. Senta Moses is as cute as a Senta Moses napping in a pile of kittens and puppies.

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