Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990, USA)

Written over 9 days, Home Alone became a powerhouse of film and the biggest success of John Hughes' career. What made the film such an enduring success? Watching the film in retrospect, it is important to discover what made the film the most successful live-action family comedy of all time. Certainly, Macaulay Culkin was part of that ingredient. There is a child wish-fulfillment fantasy in the film, although strangely a lot of what Culkin does is rather mundane things - buying groceries, pretending to shave. Home Alone 2 would do better at the fantasy aspect of the film.

Culkin's performance is iconic, even if he is winking at the camera most of the time. It is the full ensemble that makes the film work - from the selfish uncle Frank (Gerry Bamann) to Kevin's bullying older brother Buzz (Devin Ratray). That's not to mention the wet bandits themselves, a bit of perfect casting (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci). We also forget John Candy's role in the film as the benevolent polka band leader who drives Catherine O'Hara home. The film's score by John Williams is iconic as well, combining original Christmas music ("Somewhere In My Memory" has become a staple) with spooky and mischievous sounds.

Home Alone is sentimental without being cloyingly sentimental - the film's finale with Roberts Blossom is well-deserved. Kevin's defense of the home forms a relatively small section of the film - most of the film is devoted to his learning how to live on his own. Home Alone will likely remain a classic for a very long time, as - though it is dated in some ways (lack of cell phones) - the film still feels somehow fresh and not too dated. It's a film worth revisiting every Christmas as so many families do.



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