I feel bad for Kevin McCallister, and it’s not because he is abandoned by his family 2 days before Christmas. I feel bad because after facing some of his biggest fears, and two of the clumsiest burglars in America, Kevin is reunited with that very same family. I know that this is supposed to be the emotional crux of the film, but his family is absolutely awful to him. They belittle him with names, eat his food and deliberately ignore him as well as shame him for anything that goes wrong. He is 8 years old, and quite frankly I think someone should call Child Protective Services. This is not the cute Christmas ending you think it is, but let’s start at the beginning.
Home Alone follows 8 year old Kevin as his family accidentally leaves him behind when they go on holiday to Paris. While his mother frantically tries to get home, Kevin protects his home from burglars Harry and Marv. I don’t think there could have been a better team to pull this off. It was written by the late John Hughes, who was no stranger to comedy, and the always phenomenal John Williams. These two minds are professionals at what they do, and what they do is pull at the heartstrings. It also helps that the set dressings absolutely scream Christmas. There are the decorations but many of the curtains, bed-sheets and items of clothing are red, gold or green. Also leaving behind a child, whether intentional or not, is a rather heavy subject for any type of film and hits people of any age. When I was a child, being left alone was a terrifying prospect and as I grew up, my siblings being left alone became the fear. As I’ve grown into an adult, I have gained young cousins and if I were to adopt a child of my own, I would be horrified at the thought of them being alone. That’s why I think Home Alone has stood, and will continue to stand, the test of time.
I think the physical comedy also makes the film timeless, in much the same way that Tom and Jerry or Laurel and Hardy are timeless. There seems to be a distinct difference between timeless, which is this film, and dated, which is what many would call the sequel. I think it comes from writing a story without caring when it’s set, as opposed to using the time period in your story. In Home Alone: Lost in New York there’s the voice recorder and the Donald Trump cameo, among other things. I still enjoy that film, but it’s very much a product of its time, whereas Home Alone works regardless of setting, timing, message, comedy, and heart. It’s no wonder that it became a Christmas classic along with the likes of A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas despite only being 30 years old. I know to some people that 30 years ago may seem like forever ago, but in terms of cinema, I think that’s fairly young. It’s clear that a lot of passion went into making Home Alone, and it continues to fill me with the festive spirit year after year.
Until Next Time…