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Home Alone

Home Alone

By Patrick Samuel • December 21st, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
20th Century Fox

Original release: November 16th 1990
Running time: 98 minutes

Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: John Hughes
Composer: John Williams

Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy

Home Alone

You know what kids are like. Left unattended for any amount of time there’s a world of trouble they can get themselves into. Small as they are, there’s a lot of energy in them and the moment your back’s turned they’re looking for a way to exert as much of it as possible! Left to my own devices I got up to all sorts including setting a sofa on fire while playing with matches and blowing up a stereo after trying to re-wire a plug. My parents eventually realised a curious and hyperactive kid shouldn’t be unattended for too long. Still, I guess none of that was as bad as what I might have gotten up to if I was accidentally left home alone during the Christmas holidays like 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin).

This was the movie all the kids in my class wanted to see and they probably got to as well, but I had to wait until a year later when it was showing on Sky Movies at home. My family weren’t really big on taking the kids to the cinema when movies and popcorn were so much cheaper at home!

Chris Columbus had directed only one feature so far, Adventures in Babysitting (1987), but he’d written classics such as Reckless (1984), Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985) and the first few episodes of that unique and amazing animated series, Galaxy High (1986). John Hughes, who wrote and produced Home Alone, worked on movies that defined a generation in the 80’s; National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), Weird Science (1985), Pretty In Pink (1986), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). All amazing classics I’m sure you’ll agree.

Their combination here unleashed something that was hilarious, heart-warming, exciting and really great family fun but its success, I thought, was really down to that likeable and cheeky kid played by Macaulay Culkin.

Home Alone

As the youngest kid in a large family (something I could relate to) Kevin’s pushed from one room to the next, no one has any time to help him pack and he’s dreading sleeping with the family bedwetter, Fuller. The house is crammed full with 15 people who are all leaving together in the morning for Christmas in Paris. At an over-crowded dinner table Kevin finally snaps when someone eats his cheese pizza.

His mother sends him off to bed, in the dreaded attic – alone, as a punishment. Suddenly Fuller’s company doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Kevin goes to bed thinking “I wish they would all just disappear” In the hustle and bustle of the morning rush as everyone prepares to leave, no one remembers he’s still asleep in the attic and as they drive off, arrive at the airport, board the plane and take off, his mom keeps having this feeling they’ve forgotten something behind…

The little one wakes from his slumber to a house that’s oddly quiet. After searching and calling for his mom and dad he realises “I made my family disappear!” From there the fun really begins for Kevin as he finally gets to be the man of the house, completely alone just like he always wanted. Out come the desserts and on goes the Home AloneTV but Kevin’s just getting started, now he has total freedom to wander into any room, take any games and toys, play music as loud as he wants and make as much of a mess as possible. But is being alone as much fun as he thought it would be? With great power comes responsibility too and soon he’s doing his own grocery shopping, washing up and laundry too.

Unfortunately, two bumbling burglars are staking out his house, believing it to be empty. As they try to break in, Kevin resorts to everything he knows to defend his home. From booby traps to pallet guns, blow torches and anything else in the house he gets his hands on. You name it, Kevin tries it!

Home Alone was a return to the classic slapsticks of the early 20th century through to the 1940’s recalling moments from the Keystone Kops, the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers. It also reminded me of the Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Tweetie Pie cartoons I grew up watching. The violence inflicted on Harry (Joe Pesci) Home Aloneand Marv (Daniel Stern) never failed to have us rolling around on the floor, hysterical with laughter and always promising that we should try some of those things out on each other at home.

Yet for all its violence and rambunctious fun, Home Alone, like many of the films Chris Columbus has worked on, carries a message of hope. No matter how scared or worried Kevin or his mom become, they never give up hope that things will work out in the end. Trying to get a flight back home to Kevin, his mom says to a ticket agent:

“This is Christmas. The season of perpetual hope. And I don’t care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.”

Columbus, like Hughes, is a director who oddly enough has been criticised for his positive outlook on life with his movies, but I think he’s right when he says:

“I can understand the validity of showing people the ugliness of the world, but I also think there is a place for movies to leave people with a sense of hope. If you’re film isn’t going to do that, I just don’t think it’s worth making.”

It’s a film that never gets old because its characters are so timeless and easy to relate to, especially if you’re from a large family and have often wished for them to disappear, even if just for the smallest amount of time. That’s why with each festive season I have to make sure I watch Home Alone and be thankful that come what may, I’ll never really truly be alone.

The Observer Profile: Chris Columbus

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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