In the Eighties, John Hughes churned out a handful of movies and scored many, many hits. Quite rightly, as most of them were seriously funny - I'm DEFINITELY not referring to Curly Sue, so relax!

In one particular scene from Uncle Buck, Macaulay Culkin interrogates a babysitter through the letterbox to make sure she's not a baddie. This inspired Hughes to write a whole new movie. Who would have known that this and its sequel would go on to become two of the highest grossers of all time?

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Both Hughes and Chris Columbus seem to prefer setting their movies during the holiday season (Gremlins, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Christmas Vacation) and manage to pull them off without too much sentiment, or sickening amounts of gooey love.

There are two reasons why Home Alone was such a big success. The first is that it's about a kid who outsmarts grown-ups, something that happens every day, only there's a worldwide conspiracy of silence. This movie yells it out loud and clear. The second is John Williams's magical score, which elevates the movie way above slapstick family fare to something more serious and regarded. It was nominated for an Academy Award, along with the Christmas carol Somewhere In My Memory, but lost to John Barry's Dances with Wolves. Damn!

In a mad rush to the airport one morning, the MacCallister family forget one little thing - Kevin (Culkin). He is an eight-year-old kid who wants nothing better than a peaceful Christmas and some time to himself. It's hard for him to get this when living in a house with seven other people - the exact same house from Planes, Trains And Automobiles, don't you know. With the rest of the MacCallisters in Paris, Kevin runs wild doing whatever he wants, eating whatever he wants and watching whatever TV show he wants.

But there's one major problem. The Wet Bandits - Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) - are on the prowl and have knocked off every other house in Kevin's street. His is next. And seeing that he's man-of-the-house now, he HAS to defend it.

Using whatever tools are at his disposal - rusty nails, blow torches, Micro Machines - he sets up a labyrinth of booby traps, so that the Wets can't break in. Their idiot-proof determination proves to be their downfall, as they are tortured and torn-up upon entering Kevin's domain.

Although this is not the only point of the film, there is an important message that family is what really matters to a child - or to anyone - and having them home for the holidays is better than wandering a huge house all by yourself.

There are some movies that work best at Christmas and this is one of them. I'm not saying that in a couple of decades it will be the new It's A Wonderful Life, but it will be remembered fondly at the very least.

Don't be a Scrooge. It's Christmastime. Go rush to check out Home Alone.

Reviewed on: 16 Dec 2002
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Macaulay Culkin is left in a big house in Chicago at Christmas time to fend off comic burglars.
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Director: Chris Columbus

Writer: John Hughes

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara, John Heard, Roberts Blossom, Kieran Culkin, John Candy

Year: 1990

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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