God I was such a huge fan of the first two Home Alone movies back when they were released. Saw them at least twice each in theatres, bought the VHS tapes day 1 and watched them constantly, owned the Nintendo game, and actually had the novelization of the second movie. I really wish I still had that last one actually, that would be an amazing modern day review. “Then Harry and Marv fell down again. It was way funny.” This is the first time I’ve revisited these movies in years and years so I was eager to see how well they hold up.
A big reason why I, and I’m sure a lot of people, loved the first movie so much was because the idea of having the whole house to yourself was god damn amazing. Oh man I wish I could eat ice cream all day, stay up late and ride a sled down the stairs (which would not work because his front fucking door does not align). Now I’m 28 years old and, aside from the sled part, which would still be tricky to pull off, I can do that shit anytime I want. In fact, hang on. Ok cool. It’s 11 in the morning but I just made myself a bowl ice cream, cuz I can! So that aspect of the movie isn’t as appealing these days. Though it does make me wish I had a laundry shoot because holy shit would I ever be knocking action figures down it.
I also remember thinking Kevin was awesome. Now as a grown man, I think he’s kind of a shit. The reason he gets in trouble in the opening scene is completely justified and he’s overall just a little dickhead who deserves his punishment. Macauley Culkin is good in the role though. He’s natural with his delivery and you believe this kid could handle himself. But the movie does require him to do an awful lot of mugging for the camera, which used to be funny, but now comes across as more irritating.
I really didn’t expect to be this down on the movie once I started writing so let me switch gears here real fast and say that I do still think this is a good movie. It’s insanely Christmas-y, the performances are good and there are some funny gags in there. I appreciate that the reason he gets left alone is explained in a somewhat plausible manner too. Though the Dad is a wee bit too lax about the whole situation. Also I forgot how great the John Candy cameo is. And why the fuck doesn’t that cop pick up the donut piece that falls on his phone?!
Of course Home Alone is primarily known for the final act where the robbers (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern - both hamming it up but not in a distracting way and I found their shtick to actually be pretty funny) attempt to break in with Kevin home, and fall victim to a series of traps that a 10-year-old child could in no way manage to set-up, especially in such a limited amount of time. This is where the movie grabs logic by the throat and chokes it to death. Right from when Kevin sits down to eat his mac and cheese even though he knows he has 2 minutes until the robbers show up. Why didn’t you prepare that shit earlier man? What a waste.
Of course you also have the huge logic gap of Kevin not notifying the police even though he knows damn well these guys are coming, and even at what time! You just have to look past that otherwise the end of this movie would be terrible. At this point in the movie, it becomes a live action Looney Tunes cartoon as these two guys are put through hell. It’s fun to play “how soon in real life would they die”, something I didn’t really think about as a kid, but was intrigued by now. Turns out, before they even entered the house. They need to do a remake of this movie where the traps are responsible for the actual murder of two people and Kevin is painted as some sort of Saw like mastermind.
It’s too bad because this movie was copied time and time again over the years, but back then the idea of having cartoon slapstick in a live action movie was actually pretty original. It’s a lot harder to appreciate now after having seen it constantly for the last two decades.
So although I don’t love it nearly to the same extent I used to, Home Alone is still a quality flick with an original idea that has unfortunately been copied so much that it loses some impact.
The sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, was released a couple of years later in 1992 and was I ever psyched. I saw that shit opening night and could not wait. I know I loved it, I believe even claiming that it was better than the first one. As an adult I now recognize that young me was an idiot.
Home Alone 2 seems like they took the script from the first movie and just scratched out some words and replaced them with different ones. Sometimes they didn’t even go that far and just repeat some dialogue. There are so many goddamn throwbacks to the first movie in this, and it comes off more lazy now than fun. I can accept that the same shit could happen to Kevin two years running (once again, kudos to how far they go to explain why this happened), after all it happened to John McClane. But so many of the situations, dialogue and well, everything, are direct rehashes of the first movie. Hey did you guys like that gangster movie that Kevin uses the audio from to fool people? That shit’s back! Remember, “I don’t think so” and the scream and “kids are scared of the dark” and the shovel guy and using dummy silhouettes dancing to trick people and the joke that ended the movie? We did it all again! Characters even say “we did it again!” in certain situations. I’m sure watching it 2 years after the first one made this a lot more tolerable originally, but watching one right after the other made this far too distracting.
That’s not to say that the movie is bad. The slapstick final act is still entertaining (and waaaaaay more unrealistic, this time they would be dead within seconds) and there are funny bits here and there. Also I forgot how much his recorder The Talkboy is the coolest fucking thing ever (no lie, I had two of them). It’s also Christmas-y as all hell, which is nice. But it’s 60% callback to the first movie and 40% original material, and even that ratio makes me feel like I’m being generous.
Also did you know that as of 2011 there are five of these fucking things? I was going to keep this going and watch the remaining 3, but then I realized watching 5 hours of Home Alone movies was perhaps not a great way to spend my time, especially when without seeing them I bet I can review them. Watch.
Home Alone 3 - Not as terrible as you’d expect but still really bad. Bad acting, far too silly and again, just more rehashing of the previous movies.
Home Alone 4 - Pointless, dumb and 100% unoriginal, don’t waste your fucking time.
Home Alone 5 - An improvement over the fourth but still completely unnecessary and not worth it.
Now, can someone who has seen any of these please confirm the accuracy of those statements?
Hey do you think the reason Kevin doesn’t call the cops in either movie is because he WANTS to watch these guys suffer? It has to be right? Maybe there really is something to the whole Saw thing...