Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Home Alone

For a child born in the 80s or 90s, Home Alone is a true Christmas classic. It is one of the several films John Hughes wrote and produced (which also included Christmas Vacation). It was based around wealthy families going on vacations for Christmas, with the idea, what if one of their kids was accidentally left home alone? The 1990 film took on that question.

Meet the McAllisters, father Peter (John Heard), mother Kate (Catherine O'Hara), brothers Buzz (Devin Ratray) and Jeff (Mike Maronna), sisters Megan (Hillary Wolf) and Linnie (Angela Goethals), and youngest child Kevin (Macaulay Culkin). Also, meet their aunt, uncle, cousins (which included Macaulay's little brother Kieran as Fuller). They all meet at Peter's house one December day before leaving for a vacation to Paris the next day, but a fallen power line delays them, and thanks to a neighborhood kid, Kevin winds up sleeping through their hasty departure.

Kevin—who had felt ignored the previous night and wished his family would disappear—attempts to live on his own before finally realizing he wants to have his family around. However, while he attempts to take care of himself, he becomes aware of two robbers who have their eye on his home. Sure enough, "Wet Bandits" Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) make their move, but Kevin sets up several traps to trip them up. Finally, he manages to lure them to a neighbor's house, and thanks to an elderly neighbor (Roberts Blossom) who Kevin was initially afraid of until he tried to get to know him, the Wet Bandits are caught by the police and sent to jail.

Meanwhile, Kate sensed something was wrong and discovered Kevin had been left during their flight. She tries immediately to go back home, though it takes several days for her to do so. She finally arrives back home Christmas morning, where she and Kevin have an emotional reunion before the rest of the family arrives.

The film struck a chord, because sometimes kids do feel ignored and just want to be left alone. As a result, it became very popular in the theaters, and reached new audiences on home video and television. And it was followed by a sequel.

1992 had the cast reunite for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Basically, it was the same setup as the first movie, with one major twist: instead of being left at home, Kevin would get on the wrong flight and wind up in New York, where he'd use his dad's credit card to check into a fancy hotel while the rest of the family went to Florida.

Harry and Marv are out of jail and head to New York, only to see Kevin, who gets scared by a homeless bird woman (Brenda Fricker) in the park. She later helps him out of a jam and they become friends. However, Kevin raises the suspicion of the concierge of the hotel (Tim Curry) and has to leave before his family (who discover he's not there when they arrive) can get to New York (they were able to trace credit card transactions).

Kevin winds up foiling Harry and Marv's attempts to rob a toy store by luring them to an uncle's abandoned and renovation-in-progress townhouse, where they are subjected to several traps, before they finally catch him and nearly kill him in Central Park, before the bird woman arrives and rescues him. Kevin and his mother reunite in front of the Rockerfeller Center Christmas Tree.

Christmas morning, Kevin's family are given Christmas presents by the owner of the toy store that Kevin stopped the robbery of, and he exchanges turtledove ornaments with the bird woman. The film ends with Kevin running, hearing his father yell that Kevin has nearly spent $1000 on room service.

The film, while not very different from its predecessor in terms of theme and basic plot, is still a lot of fun, so if you wanted to watch Home Alone twice in the holiday season, you can watch the sequel instead and have some variance.

A movie called Home Alone 3 came out in 1997, but while John Hughes wrote it, it featured a completely different cast of characters and a different situation (instead of being left at home, the kid is out of school sick). Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House was a TV movie in 2002, that tried to offer a new take on the McAllisters, offering a new cast, but was overall dissatisfying. Finally, 2012 brought Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, once again with a new cast of characters, as a direct to DVD movie. I have not seen this one, but to me, Macaulay Culkin's Kevin was what made the first two Home Alone movies, so any film without him just isn't Home Alone to me.

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