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Home Alone (1990)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
Genres / Traits:
Children's / Family, Comedy, Domestic Comedy, Family-Oriented Comedy, Christmas
Director:
Chris Columbus Chris Columbus
Starring:
Macaulay Culkin Macaulay Culkin
Joe Pesci Joe Pesci
Daniel Stern Daniel Stern
John Heard John Heard
Roberts Blossom Roberts Blossom
User Lists:
> Christmas Tradition

7.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: December 21, 2011
You know, I had always liked Home Alone, but for whatever reason, it's kind of fallen by the wayside and I haven't seen it in well over five years. Well, let me tell you. I've been missing out.

It's tough being the youngest child. Sure, you're supposed to be "the baby," but that word can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Enter Kevin McCallister. At eight years old, he's fed up with constantly being lost in the shuffle between his parents and somewhat abrasive older siblings, and with his uncle's family in for the holidays, it's twice as bad. You see, Kevin's father has decided to take both families to Paris for Christmas, and the whole clan is spending the night before departing for the airport in the morning. Unfortunately, a tree falls on the power line overnight, killing the alarm clocks and causing the whole family to oversleep. Scrambling to get it together and make their flight, Kevin is left behind in the shuffle. While he at first relishes being home alone, he very quickly realizes that it might not be as great as it seemed. After all, he's only eight, and being alone can be a very scary thing, especially when two burglars have been eying the McCallister house for some time.

This movie is pretty much solely remembered for its hysterical climax, where our bumbling bandits fall victim to dozens of booby traps, but there's so much more to it than this. It's been proven time and time again that mere slapstick might result in a fun experience, but it's not enough to give you a classic that you're gonna keep coming back to. Home Alone has those extra pieces in spades. Perhaps the most important of which is the way Colombus lets Kevin grow throughout the running time. After watching this cowardly child overcoming his crippling fears of knocks at the door, dark basements and terrifying neighbors, it lends a whole new weight to the character's progression from boy to man. While it would be absolutely absurd to suggest any measure of realism in an eight year old outsmarting two grown men, there is a healthy dose of it inserted before we reach that point, presenting some solid groundwork to move forward on.

Likewise, the spectacular work of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern goes an indefinable distance in making this movie work. The two of them are both outrageous in their own way, and the chemistry between them is outstanding. Pesci in particular absolutely steals every one of his scenes, including his opening scene posing as a cop. In that respect, he has several standoff moments with Kevin, and covers for the kid's weak acting quite nicely. Again, the playoff between Pesci and Culkin is just one more of Kevin's steps in overcoming his fears, keeping a nice steady theme from beginning to end.

So now, with setup, characters, music and chemistry well established, we have a solid foundation for the aforementioned slapstick elements to stand upon. And stand they do. If the final twenty minutes or so doesn't have you rolling, then frankly, there's something wrong with you. Again, it's not just the simplistic humor of watching a man take a paint can to the face, but Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci's reactions to this unexpected assault, directed both at the traps and between themselves, are amazing fun to watch, and it raises such a basic form of comedy to the classic-film status it so rightly enjoys.

Home Alone is about as great as a movie can get, and it was definitely a mistake letting it slide into obscurity like that. Fortunately, I think most people are smarter than that. 9.5/10.
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Griffinheart #1: Griffinheart - added 01/01/2012, 10:27 PM
Definitely a classic. The number of amazing secondary characters in this film could easily spread across a dozen lesser films. 9/10
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