Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #11: Home Alone (1990)

Running Time: 103 minutes
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Written By: John Hughes
Main Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara, Roberts Blossom
Click here to view the trailer

As noted many times in the recent past here at the "1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die" blog, in the next 12 - 18 months the ultimate goal of this blog will transform from 'one man's journey to watch all 1001 movies in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book' to 'one man's journey to create his own, personal canon of 1,000 favorite films and show "those 1001 people" just how it's done! Sins of Omission will become a regular feature on the blog where I'll take one film that WAS NOT included in any incarnation of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and DOES NOT appear on the next list of 1000 films that I plan to tackle, give it a formal review and make it a permanent part of my list, which is entitled: 1000 Films You REALLY Should See Before You Die: A Personal, Ongoing Canon of My 1,000 Favorite FIlms.


I realize it's a bit early to be talking about Christmas trees and mistletoes when we haven't even gotten out of the turkey & stuffing season, but my blog, my rules so get on your Santa hats. I work in retail which means the next couple weeks are going to be rough going, but that didn't stop me from taking a small break from THE BOOK to check out my all time favorite Christmas flick - Home Alone and giving it a proper SINS OF OMISSION style review.

The McCallister's, all fifteen of them (including eleven children and four adults), are getting ready for a vacation to Paris, France as this 1990 comedy penned by John Hughes opens. It's about a week before Christmas and the house is in disarray: people running around like crazy, a pizza man waiting for $122.50 (plus tip) for the delivery of the McCallister's dinner and a police officer waiting to speak to an adult, making sure that the neighborhood is on guard for burglars this holiday season. Kevin McCallister (Culkin), Peter (John Heard) and Kate's (O'Hara) eight-year-old son is being a bit of nuisance and when he majorly disrupts dinner, he's sent to his room to think about what he's done. Except it's not his usual room. Because of all the extra guests (cousins, aunts, uncles) he's going to be spending this night sleeping in the attic, with his prone to wet the bed cousin. That night, high winds cause the power and phones to be knocked out and what was supposed to be an 8am wake-up is seriously overdue, as the alarm doesn't go off. The McCallister's rush around and somehow make it to the airport just in time to board their flight to Paris. Whooo - what a relief! The problem? They forgot about the punished Kevin, who was banished to sleep in the attic for the night! Uh oh! Now eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is home alone (hence the title) and just in time for the spike in the rate, which sees more people being robbed around the holiday season. Enter Harry (Pesci) and Marv (Stern), two cat burglars who call themselves the "Wet Bandits" and plan to rob the McCallister home. Meanwhile, Kevin is under the assumption that a wish he made that his family all disappear is the reason that he's spending the days leading up to Christmas alone.

The reason I'm talking about Home Alone on November 19th, instead of say December 19th (where it may be a bit closer to the appropriate time frame) can't all be chalked up to "my blog, my rules", but instead because of a very vivid memory that I have of watching this movie one Thanksgiving night, many years ago. I remember we had spent the day at my Grandma's house, a tradition for many years that we had on not only Thanksgiving, but also Christmas and Easter as well. We'd watch the parade at home, then head to Grandma's for a big dinner and then a lot of sitting around (a.k.a. visiting, which when you're a kid is called sitting around - boring, plan 'ol sitting around). Finally, just before it got dark, my parents would breakdown and say something like "get your coats, it's about that time" and we'd FINALLY go home. Anyway, I can remember watching this later in the evening, probably an eight o'clock showing on NBC, sitting in a chair, low lights, my Dad watching it with me. Every time a commercial cut in, I'd see advertisements for Black Friday sales (something I sort of always wanted to participate in when I was younger, but something my parents had no desire to do). Don't ask me why, but it's always THAT viewing of this film that I cite as being my most memorable. It wasn't the first time I'd seen the movie and it certainly wasn't the last. I guess, Thanksgiving night was always the kick off to Christmas, both when you're a little kid and in the media and popular culture as well. It's when you realize that THAT DAY is only a few more weeks away and those first wonderings of what's going to be waiting for you under the tree start to blossom. I still enjoy Christmas, but it's never as fun as when you're a kid...NEVER.

Anyway, the movie's always been a big favorite of mine and everything about it screams Christmas to me. Whenever I hear that score, I immediately am transported back to being a kid and hearing it then. All of the Christmas songs that are included are the quintessential Christmas songs to me: the Grinch theme, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas as sung by Mel Torme or Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee - they're all some of my favorite holiday tunes and they're all featured here to maximum effect. Also, miraculously, this is one of the very few films starring a kid that I can tolerate. Long time readers of the blog know that I hate children in leading roles, but Culkin is great here, doing most of the scenes alone at that. I mean, sure you have the great Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern to balance it out, but the kid is really the one in the spotlight. And then you have that great big climax with the crooks going through Kevin's fun house - a climax that was hilarious when I was a kid and is still hilarious to this day, as a thirty-year-old.

This film is EASILY my favorite Christmas movie. Sure, there's A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life, but I discovered both of those later in life. There's something to be said for growing up with a particular movie, be it this one or anything. I've been sitting aside some other films to be possible SINS OF OMISSION candidates and I'm noticing that a lot of them are films that I discovered at a young age, saw a gazillion times and have always felt comfortable with. I like what I like now, but I can't deny my roots, dammit! I'm talking about films like Home Alone, Tremors (the one horror movie that I could watch as a kid and NOT get nightmares) and Trading Places. When I was a kid, I didn't like the classics - I couldn't get into The Godfather or snooty foreign films, but I still liked movies and a lot of them are harmless fun ones, like this one. There's really not much else to say. Home Alone is a personal favorite of mine that always makes me feel nostalgic and really reminds me of Christmas, more than any other movie and just as much as seeing a lit up Christmas tree or a box of red & white canes. It's harmless fun and dammit, it's a quality picture.

RATING: 9/10  Can't go whole hog or anything, just in good conscience, but it's a fine film and one that I plan to watch every Christmas until I'm a decrepit old man.

November 19, 2014  11:45am


  1. This movie has long been a favorite of mine. I watch it every year during the holiday season. Great review!

    1. Kinda surprised you're with me on this one Larry. We tend not to agree that often, but that doesnt make me appreciate your presence any less and I always enjoy the point/counterpoint we have. Thanks for the kudos!

  2. Shudder.
    Actually I have not seen this, but I've seen enough trailers, clips, stills etc to convince me I don't want to.
    Move on...

    1. A big part of my childhood this one, yet I could see you hating this one..

  3. Fair enough.
    I will continue to 'not see it', because, from what I have seen, I'm sure I'd end up cheering for the bad guys!

  4. Sorry Andrew, I absolutely hated this one. I am not a big fan of movies starring kids (notable exceptions being Night of the Hunter or Sixth Sense). Every time I see this kid make that stupid face, I lose it a bit.

    1. To each their own, but I wouldn't go so far as to call Night of the Hunter or The Sixth Sense films that solely stood on the backs of their kid actors. In Night of the Hunter's case you had the great Robert Mitchum and in the Sixth Sense you had a solid plot and a fine Bruce Willis to back the kid up....

      As for Home Alone, Culkin pretty much ran the show and I wasn't the least bit annoyed and I despise kid actors (kids in general really).

      Oh was great hearing from you Amanda. Your presence here has been missed!

    2. Yo Amanda!
      (did I really just say that? Sorry)
      Delighted to see you here again, (and a 'post of ones own' on your blog), and pleased to see I am not alone in strongly disliking "that stupid kids face".


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