“Where did he go?” asks Harry. Marv responds, “Maybe he committed suicide.” Kevin McCallister yells out, “I’m over here you big horse’s ass! Come and get me before I call the police.”
Some films have become required viewing over the years when the holidays come around (specifically Christmas) such as It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol (the 1951 version featuring Alastair Sim), the original 1947 version of Miracle On 34th Street, and newer Christmas classics like A Christmas Story and The Polar Express. Another of the newer Christmas classics is Chris Columbus’ Home Alone, a film I’d see every year on TV during the holidays (I even remember a couple of Thanksgivings in a row where it aired on NBC). It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Home Alone first hit theaters. I was only six when it was first released; I would have to wait 22 years before finally getting to see it on the big screen. I first saw it on the big screen at a midnight showing at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema three years ago, and I was fortunate enough to see it on the big screen again recently courtesy of NCM Fathom. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, it always remains an enjoyable experience from start to finish.
1990’s Home Alone follows an eight year-old boy who is accidentally left home alone when his family rushes to make their international flight to Paris for their Christmas vacation. While his mother tries to make her way back to Chicago to make sure her son is safe, he has to contend with burglars who’ve been targeting the houses in his neighborhood. Columbus gathered a terrific ensemble that includes Macaulay Culkin (as Kevin McCallister), Joe Pesci (as Harry), Daniel Stern (as Marv), Catherine O’Hara (as Kate McCallister), John Heard (as Peter McCallister), Roberts Blossom (as Old Man Marley), Devin Ratray (as Buzz McCallister), Hope Davis (as the French ticket agent), and John Candy (as Gus Polinski). Culkin shines as the obnoxious but sympathetic Kevin. He grows as a person over the course of the film, learning how resilient and resourceful he can be. Pesci and Stern are hilarious as the Wet Bandits; Pesci is intelligent but ruthless while Stern is, well, not so intelligent and a little more childlike. O’Hara displays how strong motherly love can be as she relentlessly tries to make it back to Chicago to see Kevin. Candy is a delightful presence in an extended cameo as the “Polka King of the Midwest” who aids Kate in her quest to get back to Kevin.
Columbus direction draws memorable performances and stages some hilarious slapstick sequences (especially in the third act). The screenplay by John Hughes explores how a child might grasp with being left home alone for a few days (comedically, of course). Kevin’s cleverness and resilience come in handy and he grows figuratively as he deals separately with Old Man Marley and then Harry and Marv. Hughes’ screenplay also emphasizes the importance of family and how strong a familial bond can be. John Muto’s production design excels particularly with the McCalllister home (the interiors were my favorite, especially once the booby traps were set). Raja Gosnell’s editing moves the film at a good pace, allowing the film to hit its comedic beats at the right times. John Williams delivers a wonderful, Oscar-nominated score, dominated by a memorable main theme (he also co-wrote the Oscar-nominated song “Somewhere In My Memory”). Columbus’ Home Alone was a box office smash hit that has grown in stature over the last 25 years (ignore the awful sequels) and has become a Christmas classic. Do not miss an opportunity to see it on the big screen!