It is easy to forget that there is a lot more to Home Alone than the slapstick. The film follows Macauley Culkin’s character as he takes advantage of having the house to himself. This doesn’t mean that the film is worse than you remember, if anything, it could very well be better.
There some iconic moments from Home Alone. The use of the videotape and the “filthy animal” line, the aftershave scream and of course the shovel-wielding, scary neighbour. These are just a small fragment of the movie though and Culkin’s Kevin McCallister is the reason the film actually works so well.
The first scenes, which establish the characters, the chaotic household in which a child can be forgotten and some other breadcrumbs you won’t have realised, do a very good job of introducing the cute but smart Kevin. He is cheeky without being annoying, argumentative without being irritating and bullied without being a victim. It means we are rooting for the character from the beginning.
This helps because he holds the movie almost single-handedly. It is a large responsibility for an 8-year-old but one that Macaulay Culkin manages effortlessly. You take it for granted but Culkin handles both the funny, cheeky moments as ably as some of the sweeter moments too, particularly the one in the church with Roberts Blossom’s misunderstood character.
The movie is mainly remembered for the final half an hour though and it is teased well throughout. The bungling thieves have become as iconic a part of Christmas as tinsel in some people’s houses and it is all down to how well they commit to the roles. Before Home Alone, many people wouldn’t have known who Daniel Stern was but he is a great comic foil to the real star of the film, Joe Pesci’s straight-man but still idiotic Harry. To think it is the same character who is terrifying in Goodfellas is testament to how good an actor Pesci is and also how well he plays the role here for laughs.
Half the work is done for him of course. The traps which are set are brilliant. They are inventive without being ridiculous. There isn’t really a moment in which you doubt the traps or how effective they are. This is part of their design but also part of the charm of the film. The movie pulls you along for the ride and you relish in every hit, smash or slip that the two thieves are victim to.
There are some moments in movie history where everything just fits into place and creates the perfect type of movie. Home Alone is the perfect family Christmas film. It has heart, charm and joy with a good slice of slapstick, mild violence and cheek. It places you in the Christmas mood without forcing it down your throat.
Overall, Home Alone owes a lot of its success to the acting talents of Macauley Culkin. The little 8-year-old carries the film more than you’re probably aware and gets you rooting for the character when the two thieves show-up. From that point the film becomes Pesci’s, as he channels a little bit of Goodfellas but a lot of Mutley and gets his full comeuppance. A very funny, sweet and fantastic movie.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)