25 years ago, we got a glimpse of what it might be like if we were ever left home alone while the rest of our family was on vacation, and what we could do if someone tried to break into our house during that time. 25 years ago, we got a holiday classic that is not only hilarious, but a warm holiday movie about love and family, no matter how much they may be driving you crazy. 25 years ago, we got Home Alone (1990) and I now realize I’m younger than Kevin would be today, and still feeling quite old. While followed by less than stellar sequels, this movie always plays on TV and in our homes during the holiday season- let’s take a look back at the reasons why. To get you in the mood, here’s the soundtrack to play while you go back to the Chicago suburbs.
A. It is extremely relatable, for kids and adults.
“When I grow up and get married, I’m living alone. Do you hear me? I’M LIVING ALONE!” What kid has not felt like this at one time or another, especially around the holidays. Even when your family hosts you’re delegated to a couch or an inflatable mattress. Everyone, usually your younger relatives, are all in your stuff. Grown-ups want you to behave and sit still while they tell stories that you’ve probably heard 1000 times. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin in his adorable years) hits it right on the head- after all that, you seriously consider living alone and never having your extended family over for ANYTHING when you have a place of your own. But it’s not just the kids who are sick and tired of their family- parents aren’t exactly having a thrill ride either. They have feasts to serve, traditions to organize, schedules to keep, and let’s face it sometimes extended families annoy them just as much as they do the kids. But when you’re a grown-up, you have to put up with it, and sometimes you just want your kids to behave JUST THIS ONCE so you can get through all this with minimal migraines. Especially when you have that one kid who’s just always in trouble and never satisfied:
But when you get right down to it, not having your family around is cold and lonely. Sure it might be fun for those first few days when you can do whatever you want and not get yelled at, but when it comes to everyday life and especially holiday time, it’s just not the same on your own. You miss your parents yelling at you and you miss your kids being a pain in the neck, because being without them is nothing like being with them. Maybe this is a kid’s movie, but I think it’s relatable enough that kids AND adults could stand to learn a little something from it.
2. We all want to booby-trap our house now.
This movie is hilarious for many reasons- Kevin’s cheeky sarcasm, almost too old for an eight-year-old; Uncle Frank’s (Gerry Bamman) penny-pinching ways; the bumbling, almost unbelievable burglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern). Take your pick, the laughs are spilling out of this movie like Chandler Bing is on a 5-hour energy drink and can’t shut up. But one of the best parts is how Kevin hot-wires his house to become a trap-filled extravaganza for said burglars when they come to rob.
These traps range from stupid and hilarious (the fan blowing pillow feathers was supposed to do what to Harry, exactly, other than make the chicken suit?) to almost dangerous and a little dark (nail through the foot, anyone?). It’s something that immediately any kid with paper and the least bit of drawing skill and imagination (maybe not even drawing skill) attempted to sketch out for their own house. If someone were to attack my house, how would I keep it safe? It’s also this great little moment of Kevin stepping up, even if he’s scared about going up against two dangerous thugs. He wants to protect his home and everything in it for when his family comes home- though how he managed to clean up all that mess before they got back is beyond me- and he did more than that. He sparked the imaginations of those who sit down to watch this movie every year. And this kind of thinking is what’s going to save you during the zombie apocalypse. Just saying.
D. Nothing like this could happen today, which almost makes it more fun to watch.
Let’s break this down now: Kevin is banished to the attic alone so that the next morning, when the tree falling has knocked out the power, all the alarms don’t go off and the rushed family forgets to grab their youngest. They don’t realize their mistake until they are on the plane because they rushed through the airport and accidentally threw away Kevin’s milk-logged ticket the night before, and by that time all they can do is get to France and attempt to call back on regular phones. The police do a half-hearted check of the house (meaning they ring the bell, freaking Kevin out and instead of assuming that something might have happened to this kid, just left) and when Kate (Catherine O’Hara) finally gets back to the U.S., she can’t get a flight or a car back to Chicago to make sure that Kevin is okay.
Where do I start with this…well, nowadays, there is NO WAY the family would have gotten through airport security without realizing Kevin was missing. Honestly with airports the way they are today, that family missed their flight. They would have been stopped for security scans and patdowns, they would have had to get their passports scanned, check all their luggage- there is no way they would have gotten to the plane, especially when handing out tickets and realizing that there was one kid missing. Then you have to think about the technology- everyone today has some sort of cell phone, probably a SmartPhone. If our alarm clock goes off late, no big deal- we still have the alarms on our phones. Honestly I just use my phone’s alarm, I don’t even bother with the clock. As long as I remember to set it, I get up when I mean to get up, with no power lines necessary. And since Kevin probably has a smart phone himself, he is perfectly capable of texting someone or using Twitter: “Parents disappeared- time to party!” Or Kate could post on Facebook: “Guys, I think we left Kevin at home! Someone go check on him!”
And, at least I’m hoping, if the police were to get a call about an eight-year-old that has potentially been left alone in a house, they would be slightly more concerned and little less interested in stuffing donuts in their faces. I mean honestly, going over to a house at night to see if an eight-year-old will answer the door after waking up to find his family gone wouldn’t have worked with a normal kid. Kevin was a little braver than most, sure, but even he wasn’t going to open the door at night when he didn’t know who was there! In spite of all these differences, and really because of them, it’s almost as if this movie is taking place farther back in history than it really does. It’s such a different world than the one we live in now, it’s fun to watch because we will probably never have an experience nearly as similar (as if being left home alone while family goes on vacation would have happened anyway, but let’s suspend reality for now).
I personally am of the belief that Christmas movies and Christmas music should not be played until Thanksgiving is over, maybe not even until December starts. It bothers me when stuff starts as soon as Halloween is over, really. But if I AM going to bust out a movie to start off the season, this would probably be it. As we start to prepare for snow and the chaos of too many people in a house, take some lessons from our old friend Kevin and just feel the love. It’s the best part of the holiday.