Reviews

Review: Home Alone

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Usually to find a unique film that strays from the rest of the industry these days you have to dive deep into a pile of painful artsy films, but back in the day all you really had to do was pay attention to what John Hughes was up to. Pumping out memorable classics like (hold your breath) Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone (breathe) in only about five years, it leaves every great writer of today’s time as nothing more than a Tom Brady in an industry still praisingĂ‚ the Joe Montanas of the past. John Hughes literally helped sculpt American culture in a way that should have every screenwriter envious forever into the future.

Add the good director Christopher Columbus to the mix and it’s no surprise why this film’s excellent supporting cast was able to make a unique screenplay shine as bright as it deserved. Keep reading for a full review, or hop on over to Toby’s review of the film, which has a more comical approach to it by…

Usually to find a unique film that strays from the rest of the industry these days you have to dive deep into a pile of painful artsy films, but back in the day all you really had to do was pay attention to what John Hughes was up to. Pumping out memorable classics like (hold your breath) Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone (breathe) in only about five years, it leaves every great writer of today's time as nothing more than a Tom Brady in an industry still praising the Joe Montanas of the past. John Hughes literally helped sculpt American culture in a way that should have every screenwriter envious forever into the future.

Add the good director Christopher Columbus to the mix and it's no surprise why this film's excellent supporting cast was able to make a unique screenplay shine as bright as it deserved. Keep reading for a full review, or hop on over to Toby's review of the film, which has a more comical approach to it by comparing and contrasting it with Mrs. Doubtfire and hating on Christopher Columbus.{{page_break}}

The film starts fast paced as Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and a dozen other family members all scramble to prepare for a vacation flight overseas that's first thing tomorrow morning. Despite there being so many side characters, every single one gets at least one scene and bundle of dialogue to make them memorable. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is a forgotten film formula for success, and I'm adamantly against today's mindset that every scene of a movie has to feature one of the main characters. We barely even seen Kevin for the first ten minutes while the supporting cast is fleshed out, and after an alarm clock and electrical mishap in the morning, everyone is off to Paris for the holidays, except Kevin.

Once Kevin is finally “home alone” we see the rise of the two villains Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), who elevate their film to a whole other level that becomes worth the yearly rewatches it gets from mine and several other families around the globe each year. We also watch to see what it's like for a young kid to try to manage a house on their own, and while it's certainly not a Spirited Away sized “coming of age” story, you still see Kevin overcome his fears of the basement, scary movies, and especially two low life criminals.

It's great how the house itself feels like a character in this film, and Kevin's exploration and exploitation of the empty house early on doesn't feel like setup for later stuns, but deceptively is in an expert fashion of planting seeds for later. After some comical moments of house defense, a couple of running gags involving screams and spiders, a few more memorable side characters introduced like the holiday cops and John Candy as a hilarious polka band member who ad libbed all his lines in a 24 hour session on set, and you have a tumultuous middle act that keeps you guessing and builds up to the thoroughly enjoyable climax.

The 20 or so last minutes of this movie focus on the robbers finally trying to invade the house, and it's wildly entertaining over a long span of time in a way that not even most action films can do with guns and explosions. We're so used to being satisfied by seeing bad guys fail in the end that it's easy to forget how much more fulfilling it is to witness villains see their goals slip away from their fingertips scene by scene in a way that thoroughly punishes them for their malevolence.

While the build up and release is spectacular, and the one encounter side characters are all great, the acting of young Macaulay is not, but that's the only major complain that I can make about Home Alone. Since most kids are odd anyways it's lessened as a detractor for the film, but with that being my only gripe it's not a surprise that this has gone on to be a must watch movie for most families during the Christmas holiday season.

Overall Score: 8.40 – Great.(Movies that score between 8.00 and 8.50 are great representations of their genre that everyone should see in theaters on opening night.)

A unique story done justice by an amazing writer, a great director, a huge supporting cast, great villains, and enough laughs per minute to make this movie always worth watching whenever it happens to be on television.

Toby Jones:

Overall Score: 6.00 — Home Alone is much better than Mrs. Doubtfire, though neither film is particularly special. You can read his full review here!