HOME ALONE. 1990. DIRECTED BY CHRIS COLUMBUS. STARRING MACAULEY CULKIN, JOE PESCI AND JOHN CANDY. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is the film that made a star out of Macauley Culkin. He plays the criminally cute, blonde-haired and angelic-looking Kevin McAllister in this perennial Christmas favourite. And who the diddly is Kevin McAllister? Why, he’s the eight-year-old American kid who hilariously makes monkeys out of two adult male burglars, of course.
I had the opportunity recently to watch this film on the big screen at a family member’s work’s Christmas party. There was a gorgeous Christmas tree, a festive atmosphere and tons of mince pies and hot spiced apple drinks to get the party started, then adults and kids alike huddled round the big screen to eagerly await the start of the shenanigans.
The shenanigans kick off when, through a twist of fate, Kevin McAllister gets accidentally left behind by his huge extended family when they go on a Christmas vacation to Paris. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just one of those things that happen in life. To bad parents. There, I’ve said it. They couldn’t even be bothered to head-count their own kids. Just as well that Kevin’s happy to be rid of ’em for a bit. In fact, he thinks he’s managed to magic them away with the power of his mind, so he’s delighted with himself, the little tyke.
Anyway, that’s what happens. Kevin’s been left home alone (see what I did there?), it’s a few days before Christmas and the stage is set for major shenanigans. These mainly take the form of Kevin’s having to defend his family’s beautiful home from two incompetent burglars, one of whom is Goodfella Joe Pesci. He does a brilliant job here as the lead burglar with the gold tooth.
Kevin is an immensely resourceful eight-year-old. He sets a number of intricate and surprisingly successful booby-traps for the two bumbling, bungling home-invaders, each funnier than the last. They’re also pretty violent, mind you, these booby-traps.
We see one robber being hit in the face with an iron, the other burning his mitt pretty badly before having his hair and hat scorched off with a flame-thrower, and they both get walloped in the boat-race with whopping great cans of paint. This angelic-looking kid really has a vicious/sadistic streak…!
My favourite scenes are as follows. Joe Pesci posing as a copper to wheedle all the distracted family’s vacation details out of them. He’s hilarious. The pizza delivery boy getting the s**t scared out of him by Kevin’s film noir videotape of ANGELS WITH FILTHY SOULS. The old man next door being re-united with his son and his son’s family, after sharing a touching exchange of views with little Kevin in a church where beautiful Christmas music is being played. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE being played in French. It sounds so weird in a different language! Santa (yes, I said Santa!) grumbling about his parking ticket on Christmas Eve, of all nights. Yeah, Santa’s got problems too, you know!
That reminds me of the time I saw an elf standing outside my local shopping centre smoking a cigarette, shivering his arse off in the bitter cold. It was early December and Santa’s Grotto was in full swing. God love him, his legs looked so scrawny in the tight, unflattering elf trousers and he was practically blue with the cold. Then there was the time some friends and I saw another elf from the same Grotto having a full-on row with his girlfriend in the local Boots. Something about Saturday night and a mate of his called Danno. Ah well. Shit happens, doesn’t it?
Anyway, the Americans really do Christmas properly. And Halloween. I don’t think there’s another country in the world where entire neighbourhoods are decked out so fantastically for these two all-important holidays. The houses in HOME ALONE are so stunningly decorated that describing them wouldn’t really do them justice. Let’s just say that they’re utterly breath-taking and wonderfully Christmassy. I wish the Irish (I’m one of ’em!) went all out in the same way. I mean, we decorate the inside of our gaffs but not many people do the whole lighting-up-the-outside-of-the-houses thing, and certainly not in the same way.
Macauley Culkin is really, really good at looking surprised. You know that face he does, the one that famously looks like Edvard Munch’s famous painting, THE SCREAM…? That’s his surprised face. John UNCLE BUCK Candy does a great job as the polka musician who gives a frantic Mrs. McAllister a ride home to her abandoned son, who’s having a whale of a time without his family. Well, for the most part, anyway.
When the Christmas tree is chopped down and decorated prettily and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, does little Kevin, the odd-one-out in his family, decide that he doesn’t want to be without them permanently after all…? There’s only one way to find out, folks.
Well, yes, you could google the plot of the film, but I meant that you should watch the movie. You should watch this Christmas favourite with the great Christmas soundtrack and enjoy the sensation of having the cockles of your heart warmed. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. Is that the line? Wait there while I go dig out the book and check the line. Are you waiting…? Where’ve you gone…? Ah well.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
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