VIDEO: Home Alone (1990)

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Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals! For the holidays, Suspect looks at the highest grossing Christmas movie ever, Home Alone, starring Macaulay Culkin as an eight year old left home alone who soon learns how to unleash brutal, near-lethal violence on Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. 

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  • First, incredible editing.

    My opinion on why so many people underestimate the value of this movie is the Jaws Effect. Viewers remember the later parts so much that they somehow forget that the earlier parts are great too. Just as Jaws is about more than the shark hunt, Home Alone is about more than the sadistic house traps. The dialogue is so fun. Not only Kevin’s, but everyone’s. I heard somewhere that Hughes wrote the script in an insanely short time period, but for me that’s evidence of his peculiar genius rather than evidence that this movie is shallow. (Well, okay, the plot is nothing special, yet maybe that’s why actual children can enjoy it. I’m around the same age as Kevin McCallister and I thought this movie was amazing.)

    • The_Unusual_Suspect

      Yeah, when I watched this movie as a kid I always looked forward to the house trap bit as that’s what everyone remembers. As an adult, I now appreciate the other aspects of this film more, and I had no idea Hughes wrote it in a short time; makes his work all the more impressive.

      Oh, and thank you for the editor compliment, it’s what I love to do (a bit sad I know, but it’s oddly therapeutic in a way). Thanks for watching! 😀

  • Muthsarah

    The movie is written from a eight-year old’s point of view.  Of course his whole family is unreasonable and assholish.  Of course he wants to be alone (especially around the holidays when there’s more family then ever).  Of course he fully expects to get married even if he has no idea what that entails.  Old people are scary because you’re told they are.  The first ten to fifteen minutes of this movie already capture what it feels like to be a little kid, too young to really know anything, but old enough to think you know everything and think everyone else is stupid.  It really is the perfect kind of kids’ movie, from a kid’s point of view at least.

    I particularly love how they handle three scenes:

    A. The Santa scene – they admit to the kids in the audience that mall Santas and the like aren’t actually Santa (which should be obvious, even to a child), but hold out the plausible theory that they nevertheless work for the real one, since he clearly can’t be in every mall at the same time.  This is a far, far more believable story, and is pitched at just the right level for a kid to believe.  It keeps the magic of the legend alive, while still giving kids credit that they can detect its obvious flaws.  It’s perfect.

    2. The beautiful church scene – which shows kids that they shouldn’t just believe anything they hear about someone they don’t know.  And yeah, we ARE supposed to see the Old Man through Kevin’s eyes.  First, he’s scary, because we (the viewers) are TOLD that he’s scary, he’s depicted as something scary, so we accept it.  Then we see that he’s not, because we’re SHOWN that he’s not.  Kevin isn’t just the star of the movie, he’s the audience’s surrogate.  The old man’s depiction changes as Kevin’s perspective changes.  And the old man’s story, while being relatable to adults in the audience for all it glosses over, is perfectly understandable to children in how it’s very simply told, especially since we were already shown all the problems Kevin has (or thinks he has) with his own family, and it comes at the point in the story when Kevin really starts to miss them, as the old man surely does his as well.  It also treats the kids in the audience with respect by pitching the scene at their level, it knows how to talk to them about something serious, without alienating the adults.

    D. John Candy’s scenes might be a little harder for kids to understand, but adults can get it.  It’s the B-plot, it’s technically extraneous, it’s for the adults far more than the kids, but it’s got the same kinda thing going.  Kevin’s mother has until that point felt that she was a terrible mother for disciplining Kevin (which wasn’t excessive or anything), but comes to understand that, as horrible of a mistake that she made, she’s not the only parent that has unintentionally hurt her child.  And that doesn’t make her a bad person, just someone who means well for her child but won’t always come across that way to him, much as Kevin isn’t a brat, he’s just a kid, doing what makes sense to him.  Again, it absolutely didn’t need to be in the movie, but it adds a lot by fleshing out her character and hinting that any post-movie healing between the mother and son won’t just be due to the mother’s guilt or the son’s fear or loneliness, or by one of them admitting that they were 100% wrong, but by a genuine character-building moment, as each one learns to appreciate the other more and admit that the other one isn’t solely at fault for any strain in their relationship.  And all in just a minute or two, it’s really economical.

    The movie’s fantastic even without the slapstick, which the kids would love anyway, and which clearly sells itself.  Home Alone really does have everything that a kids’ movie should have.  If you don’t like it (as an adult), just…try to regress a lil’ bit.  There’s a lot there.

    Also, I realize I’m late to this particular party, but yeah, the editing was smooth and crisp throughout.  And you got the sound effects volume under control too.  This review should be used as a template, for you and others.  I notice you’ve been away for awhile, did you have time to put extra work into this video, or just the usual amount?  I can’t say this without backhandedly insulting you, I understand, but this was a big step up from your regular vids (again, I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that this one was really, really good).  Fantastic cut-away/reference thingees too.  Overall, this is superlative stuff as “straight” internet reviews go, among the best I’ve seen anywhere over the past three years.

    • The_Unusual_Suspect

      Thanks man! I’ve just been taking on advice over the time I’ve been doing this. One of the biggest complaints was concerning my sound levels, it’s something I keep a very close eye on now. I actually was really pressed for time when it came to editing the review; glad it turned out well 🙂

  • The_Stig

    Fun fact: Joe Pesci actually bit Macauley’s finger hard enough to leave a scar.

    DIE HARD! HELL YEAH! For me the three most must-see Christmas Movies are Die Hard, Christmas Vacation and Scrooged.

  • Dennis_Fischer

    Another funny and well-edited review, Suspect. Impressive, given that I hate this particular film.  To me, great slapstick was done by Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, and the antics here don’t even come close for me.  At one time, this was the high-grossing comedy of all time, so apparently there are many folk who share your high opinion of this film, but it doesn’t make them right.

  • PhysUnknown

    First off, I love your reviews, and this one is no different. I like that you poke fun at movies you genuinely like. Very few, if any, films are 100% perfect, and ridiculing the mistakes doesn’t mean we don’t like what worked. In some ways, it makes your reviews more meaningful, as you acknowledge that there are mistakes, instead of just ignoring them to praise the film. Also, I really enjoy your humor.

    Second, one minor quibble. You talk about the memorable quotes, but left out one of the best: “Look what you did, you little jerk!”

    Such a terrible line to say to a kid (I distinctly remember my father saying, in the theater, that if his brother or brother-in-law ever said that to me or either of my siblings, my dad would slug him (as in a punch, not cast an “eat slugs” spell on him; my dad’s not a wizard…at least as far as I know)), but something that my friends and I bandy about when hanging out.

    Like I said, minor quibble. I haven’t seen Home Alone in a few years. It’s one of my fiance’s favorite Christmas movies. I think we’ll watch it this winter. 🙂