While holiday flicks might bring to mind black and white Bing Crosby fare, the 90’s produced a slew of classics as well, albeit of a more humorous nature. John Hughes, the genius behind the Thanksgiving holiday film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” delivered another holiday favorite: 1990’s “Home Alone.” The hilarious, adorable, seasonal romp is set over the Christmas holiday, but it’s worth watching year round.
The McCallister family is heading to Paris for their Christmas vacation, and it’s the night before their departure. Eight year old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) and older brother Buzz (Devin Ratray) fight, and Kevin hides upstairs, wishing for freedom. A power surge causes everyone’s alarms to malfunction, and in the chaos to make their morning flight, Kevin gets left home alone.
For Kevin, his newfound independence is initially the Christmas miracle. However, he soon must combat a pair of bumbling thieves known as the Wet Bandits, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern). Kevin is also forced to contend with “Old Man Marley” (Roberts Blossom), purpprted to have killed his family in the 50’s. Meanwhile, Kevin’s mother Kate (Catherine O’Hara) attempts to fly home upon realizing Kevin’s absence. Naturally, considering the horrors of holiday travel, she lands in Scranton, Pennsylvania rather than Winnetka, Illinois. Without his family, the resourceful Kevin laces his house with inventive traps to ward off the Wet Bandits.
“Home Alone” is an unbelievably lasting movie, and remarkable Christmas flick. Macaulay Culkin’s brings a cheery charm to the narrative, and there’s a heartwarming subplot involving Old Man Marley reuniting with his family. However what makes “Home Alone” a masterpiece is its ridiculous cleverness. The undeniable highlight of the film comes when Kevin sets a boatload of booby traps to deter the Wet Bandits. He uses black and white gangster flicks, cardboard standees, and Christmas music to create the impression of a house party. There’s also a throwback to Hughes’ “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” when Kate meets Gus Polinski (John Candy), a polka troupe member who proposes to travel together. It’s a nice Easter egg referencing Candy’s brilliant Del Griffith persona.
The adorable “Home Alone” spawned a franchise, featuring several sequels which generally were entertaining. It’s a unique experience in that “Home Alone” feels appropriate throughout the entire year, unlike more standard holiday movies like “White Christmas.” However, if the holiday music and seasonal decorations found within the film aren’t convincing enough, just consider Poland’s ratings. Apparently, “Home Alone” is the Polish equivalent of our “Miracle On 34th Street,” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It’s been a staple on TV since 1990, and 2011 saw more than 5 million viewers tune in.