Home Alone: A retrospective of a classic

(courtesy Disney)

Home Alone is widely regarded as a holiday classic and is a classic movie to watch around the holidays. The movie leaves the viewer feeling nostalgic, with the simple childhood premise of being left in the house alone without your parents. 

In the beginning of the movie, Kevin, an eight-year-old boy, has to deal with his whole extended family being in the house for Christmas. The entire family is going on a trip for Christmas, but the night before they leave Kevin gets in trouble, and is sent to the attic to sleep.  On the morning of the trip, the family’s alarm clocks fail to go off, and they’re all in a frenzied rush to get out the door… leaving Kevin behind. With the house to himself, Kevin is the happiest he’s been in a long time, but slowly as the days go by, he starts to realize that he misses his family. However, this becomes the least of his worries when he overhears two burglars, Harry and Marv, planning to rob his house. Both Harry and Marv believe that the family is gone for the holidays. Kevin prepares a series of booby traps in his house to ward them off. When night falls, Harry and Marv fail to get through Kevin’s defenses, which include: a blow torch, a sizzling hot doorknob, a falling iron, a nail on the stairs, swinging paint buckets, and more devious traps. When Kevin’s family finally comes home, they see that he is thriving; doing chores, laundry, and even going to the store by himself. Upon seeing his family, Kevin’s finally at peace again.  

The highlight of the movie is definitely the performance from Macaulay Culkin playing Kevin. Culkin brings the character to life with all the arrogance, comedy, and brattiness of an eight-year-old boy. Many child actors bring an annoying presence to movies, but in this movie, Culkin’s performance remains both funny and endearing, never slipping into annoying or whiny. And while Culkin brings the smugness that the character of Kevin is known for, it doesn’t distract from the comedy or the heart of the movie.

The highlight of the movie is definitely the performance of Macaulay Culkin as Kevin.

Perhaps the most interesting character is Marley, the old man who lives next to Kevin. Often neglected in reviews, Marley plays a key role in the film. In one of the first scenes in the movie, Kevin’s brother Buzz tells him that “Old Man Marley ” is a deranged killer. In typical eight-year-old fashion, Kevin believes him without hesitation. But in a later scene, Kevin goes to church and has a heartfelt conversation with Marley. Kevin realizes in this scene that his neighbor isn’t a psychopath but rather a nice, misunderstood old man. He also learns that Marley’s family situation isn’t perfect, either –– Marley and his son haven’t spoken for years due to an argument that happened a long time ago. During the climactic event of the movie, Marley ends up saving Kevin from the burglars and helping him get away. Then, in the final shot of the movie, Kevin sees Marley making amends with his son, so they can be together again on Christmas. Between Kevin’s storyline and the subplot involving Marley, much of this movie is about family and spreads the message that though sometimes families fight, they’ll always find each other again. 

The theme of family is the most prevalent throughout the film. Kevin’s sweet reunion with his family ties the whole movie together with quintessential holiday charm. The theme of familial bonds is classic, contributing to the lovely nostalgic feel of the film.