The Flickering Myth writing team count down to Christmas by discussing their favourite festive movies; next up is Luke Owen with Home Alone….
“I made my family disappear.”
And with that, a Christmas classic (and a young star) was born.
There are a lot of titles that get bounded around during the festive period on what are ‘must-watch’ Christmas movies. Yuletide classics such as It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street (the original, obviously) always appear high on lists, but for the generation that was born out of the 80s and cultivated in the 1990s, there is only one film that comes to mind – Christopher Columbus’ Home Alone.
Written by teen movie icon John Hughes, Home Alone tells the story of young Kevin McCallister (a then innocent Macaulay Culkin) who has a huge argument with his family on the eve before they leave for Paris where they plan to spend Christmas. Due to a powercut during the night, the McCallisters are in a mad rush to make their flight and in the ensuing madness don’t realise that they’ve left little Kevin home alone. As his mother tries everything in her power to get to her abandoned son, Kevin must fend for himself – which becomes a mammoth task when two burglars (known as The Wet Bandits) try to break into his house.
It’s his house and he must defend it.
Aside from being insanely quotable, Home Alone is just a hilarious and fun ride from start to end as we see Kevin grow from an whining and complaining kid who didn’t get a plain cheese to a boy who fends off pesky burglars by using everyday household items. He may have started frightened by a gangster movie and a furnace, but he soon becomes a house-defender using paint pots and Micro Machines to take out Goodfella‘s Joe Pesci. And while the insanity of the final third is easily the best part of the movie, one of the most fun things he does is the simple act of riding his sled down a flight of stairs and out the front door. It’s so much fun to watch.
Which of course bring us to what most people celebrate about Home Alone – the final third of the movie in which Kevin fights off The Wet Bandits.
Which home protection gag was your favourite? The blow torch? The spike on the steps? The Micro Machines? The iron? The tar and feather? The slippery steps? No matter which one brings the most laughs from your belly, there is no doubt that Home Alone gets funnier every time you see it and even as an adult, it’s still hilarious. Let’s be honest, throw on some different music and add some gore and this is one of the most violent displays of vigilantism this side of The Punisher, but Culkin sells this comedic horror with childlike glee. Furthermore, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern give fantastic over-the-top slapstick performances to add to the joy with genius facial expressions and glass shattering screams.
However, while the fun of the movie is seeing people fall over, Home Alone boasts an important Christmas message – your family is the greatest gift you could ask for. Kevin’s time alone in the house might be full of jokes and japes, but Catherine O’Hara’s tireless journey to be home with her son at Christmas is heart-breakingly beautiful. That moment when they finally see each other again (spoilers) is true tear-jerker akin to George Bailey’s run home to his wife and kids.
Plus, Old Man Marley re-uniting with his daughter (spoilers) is a true piece of Christmas magic.
This is why Home Alone is one of the best Christmas movies ever made. It has the facade of a wacky comedy romp, but at its core it’s a tale of a family being together at Christmas. Home Alone focuses on everything that makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year. And while it’s a trip down nostalgia lane for some, for others it’s staple Christmas viewing and it will be for generations to come.
The sequel isn’t bad either. The less said about the third one the better. Or the fourth one. Or the fifth one…
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.