Click here to read about the Christian themes of this movie.
Aloneness and Christmas should never be associated with one another, that simple fact on its own proves how much power Home Alone has carried in its twenty-six years of enlightening the yuletide season for families everywhere. After becoming the number-one box-office hit of 1990, this instantly landed among the other classics guaranteed to bring smiles all around in this reflective time of year.
We are introduced to the mildly Catholic McAllister family in snowy Chicago, presently home to two other groups of relatives, forming a party of fifteen in a single house. The stress of their living situation is felt right away as we see relative upon relative stacking up to crowd the intimacy they should be feeling during this traditionally religious time of year.
Our focus within the typical family is young eight-year-old Kevin. He is an annoying, whiny little brat with no real acting charisma, but he’s still got that adorable boyish charm to calm anyone’s nerves. Proving his role model for anyone’s common feelings in the Christmas season; he is bullied by his entire family, is accidentally abandoned at home by himself as his family flies to vacation in Paris and is left to man the house singlehandedly against a duo of house robbers.
The coincidences in this engaging scenario are for the greater part unbelievable, as several plot points are thrown in only to fulfill their duty in progressing the main plot. Then once their duty is up, they leave as suddenly as they arrived. The laws of physics and biology are also broken more than the bones of their victims, which includes the embarrassing ice-slip of a fat, old police officer who attempts to capture Kevin after an accidental robbery.
Then back to the disoriented family on the plane to Paris, the mother does not realize that their son was somehow left home alone until it’s too late. Once they land at the overwhelmingly Caucasian French airport, she expresses undying sacrificial commitment to getting back to her son, saying she’ll even “sell her soul to the devil himself” to see her son again. Funny considering that the only exchange we see her have with her son before this declaration emphasizes a deliberate refusal to forgive or understand his rogue behavior. So any soon-to-be mothers looking for a Parenting 101 course will need to search elsewhere.
But it simply makes the lonely existence of Kevin back in Chicago all the greater. In fact, the editor should have just left out the entire subplot altogether and focus on the boy’s waltz with the Christmas demons. The haunting John Williams musical score captures his feel of aloneness during the season of Christ’s birth, paced smartly by director Chris Columbus between spurts of slapstick and gentle sobriety.
Once the burglars plan a strike on his Christmas-colored house fit for a vintage ad, he springs to action: tar on the stairs, a blowtorch at the back entrance, a loaded BB gun at the ready, and the nutrition from a microwaved macaroni and cheese dinner fuel him in a duel against two denizens of thievery.
The hectic sequence of Looney Tunes style pratfalls distorts the faces of the two poor imbeciles who underestimated their opponent; as staged by perfectly timed gags that slowly build up to each punchline for a quick punch to your laughing gland. It all makes up for the kids and their parents watching to raise grins from a gloomy scenario.
Kevin, in the course of his unwelcome trial, becomes a kid acting like an adult acting like a kid in a world where the adults think they’re kids acting like adults. He does everything that any eighties child would dream to do as an eight-year-old in his situation to feel like the man of the house, including the unnecessary application of aftershave and deodorant. But as he evades exploitation by the dangerous adults in the neighborhood, this spooky environment of his unprotected neighborhood pushes him into manhood as he learns not to let his fear turn him into what he’s most afraid of.
When his trial is all over, the joy among the holiday season outshines the ugliness of whatever tries to stop that joy from lasting. If only more Christmas specials made nowadays remembered this key element to the most wonderful time of the year, then it would influence the subsiding of our material madness for the greater things to come.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!