[Editor's Note: Welcome to Reel Insight's 25 Days of Christmas! For the next 25 days, we'll post our thoughts on a different Christmas film everyday. Fear not! It won't be all warm fuzzy, kiddie fun. We have our naughty and nice lists, so you'll get several film genres, from comedy and drama to action and horror. We won't be posting our regular features during this time, except for Episode #94 of the podcast due tomorrow, so no games for a few weeks, but come back to see which films made the cut and which list they landed on. Or if you just need some depraved way to get into the holiday spirit.]
Traditional Christmas movies weren't a big deal at my house when I was growing up. To the surprise of many, I've only recently caught up with such classics as It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story, with plans to knock out a few more in the coming weeks. However, when the fourth grade hit and Home Alone was out on VHS, I was a goner...mainly because of my insane childhood crush on Macaulay Culkin, but I was also happy to have found a Christmas film I could enjoy on repeat viewings.
Now after having seen it for the first time in almost 20 years, and with my Culkin crush long gone, I'm surprised at how much I still enjoyed Kevin McCallister and his crazy antics of stopping robbers Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) from invading his home while the rest of the family was away in Paris. Of course, there are some downfalls. I now find Kevin to be an obnoxious little brat to his mother (Catherine O'Hara) and love all of her smartass retorts to her ungrateful son. I'm confused as to why no cops were called sooner on Kevin's behalf, especially after the first break in attempt, nor why the creepy old guy next continued to leave Kevin alone when he knew what was going on. And of course everyone's acting is so over-the-top it hurts at times, but I'm able to chalk these nitpicking complaints up to the film being family-friendly fare. Thankfully, the late John Hughes' writing mostly saves it, but I can't say the same about Chris Columbus' mediocre directing.
Unfortunately the same players could not make lightning strike twice, despite their desperate attempt. When Kevin accidentally arrives in New York instead of Florida with the rest of his family for Home Alone 2, the same plot plays out but the stakes are raised due to sequelitis. Many of Kevin's traps for the newly prison-escaped Harry and Marv would likely result in death, but since everyone turned into cartoon versions of themselves, they are apparently immune. It's quite obvious the sequel was nothing more than a quickly slapped together, holiday cash grab, but it worked, because I remember dragging my own poor mother to the theater. Surely I enjoyed it at the time, but it certainly does not hold up like its predecessor.
Thankfully everyone jumped ship for the remaining, countless sequels, which I too have skipped, but the original will remain a modern Christmas classic for the family.