Home Alone

When I was six years old, I thought Home Alone was the funniest movie ever made. It was the first movie I ever saw multiple times in the theaters and I even wrote about the scene where Kevin burns his face with the aftershave, for a class assignment. We got the VHS as soon as it came out but by the time the sequel came out, my interest had waned. I not only didn’t see Home Alone II in the theater, the VHS was gifted to me by a relative and I didn’t even remove the plastic for a year. I don’t know exactly what happened. I would still watch both Culkin films when I caught them on tv but I didn’t really sit down and watch it again until I was an adult and I was shocked to see how well it held up. Any plotholes I could dream up were covered. Everything is so intricately plotted you can just sit back and enjoy the hilarity.
The McCallisters are preparing for a family Christmas trip to Paris. The family is packed with cousins and other relatives and Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is upset that they aren’t having Christmas at home. The last straw is when the family eats the last of his precious cheese pizza and he is sent to the attic to go to sleep without dinner. As the family sleeps, a tree falls on the power lines, causing them to lose electricity and oversleep. In the rush to catch the plane, the family forgets to wake Kevin and a nosey neighbor boy gets mistaken for Kevin in all the craziness. It isn’t until they are in the air does his mother (Catherine O’Hara) piece together what happened. Kevin, however, does not question his family’s absence and assumes that his wish to not have a family anymore has been granted. He enjoys his time alone as his family frantically tries to get back to him as quickly as possible. However, two thieves have been casing his neighborhood and when they realize it is just Kevin, the plot to rob the house. Kevin gets wind of this and prepares the house for their invasion.
It’s funny that this film is mostly known for such a small portion of its plotline. Everyone remembers how this little boy tortured a dastardly duo (played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), but that really only covers the act three of the close to two hour long movie. While Kevin has to outsmart the bad guys a bit in act two, almost everything people remember of this film happens at the end. So much crafting went into the story so that in the end everything made sense and had happen the way it did.
Rewatching this as an adult gave me new appreciate for the little wonder that was Macaulay Culkin. He really was one of the most perfect child actors of all-time. Everything out of his mouth is incredibly charming, even when he’s being a total brat. Recently found out that his line “Are you giving up, or are you thirsty for more?” was an ad lib. Amazing. Culkin has had his up and downs post-Home Alone but I hope he is able to gives a few more great performances in the future.
If you grew up with this movie and haven’t seen it in awhile, do yourself a favor and pour yourself some egg nog and let the memories flood back to you. There are some really great moments in this Christmas classic.


In the late 80s, early 90s Saturday morning cartoons were a big deal and one trend was shows based on hit movies, even though some of the film weren’t exactly family fare. One of my favorites growing up was Beetlejuice, which followed the adventures of “the ghost with the most” and his best friend, the gothy mortal Lydia. While Beetlejuice was gross and rude, he would do anything for Lydia. Imagine my surprise when I finally saw the film and watched Beetlejuice try to forcibly marry Lydia, and he’s a total creep, and then there’s these other people who aren’t in the show. I would really love to have seen the pitch for this one. Remember that decaying sleazebag Michael Keaton played? I have a feeling kids are going to love him!
Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are happily married couple who love their home and their lives only to lose it all when they drive their car off their bridge in order to avoid hitting a dog. They return to their home but realize something isn’t right. They quickly piece together that they are dead and they are trapped in their house. Their house is sold to a family, The Deetz, from Manhattan. While dad Charles (Jeffery Jones) is looking forward to the rest and relaxation country living will bring, wife Delia (Catherine O’Hara) plans to make herself at home by redecorating the house to her aesthetic, much to the Maitlands horror. However, they are helpless because only the youngest and spookiest Deetz, Lydia (Wynonna Ryder) can see them when they attempt to scare them out of the house. In an act of desperation, they unleash Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) who promises to rid the house of the Deetz family but has his own agenda. Eventually the two families find a way to live together peacefully with Bettlejuice far, far away.
This is good example of how much fun Tim Burton can (could) be when he’s working with the right subject matter. I think what makes this work is that you have the normal Maitlands mixed with the bizarre Netherworld and the wacky Deetz family. That balance makes the whole film more special. The afterlife is given so much personality in Burton’s vision, with all the characters in the waiting room exhibiting the cause of their death. The cast is also perfect with Catherine O’Hara getting in touch with her inner villain as the vain Deila, Ryder is the moody girl next door as Lydia, and Michael Keaton named the vile Beetlejuice as his favorite role of all time. He gets to really “go there” with this character, looking as gross as possible, sounding as weird as possible, doing whatever he wants with his body. Keaton’s an actor I always get excited when he shows up in a film. He’s really fun to watch and I’d love to see him have a comeback.
While the cartoon will always have a special place in my heart, Burton’s less kid friendly feature is everything that was magical about the director. Definitely a much watch as we approach Halloween.