Review: Home Alone

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Until today, I last endured a viewing of the “classic” family comedy Home Alone during a somewhat peculiar event. My friends and I, all haters of the director Chris Columbus, wished to reach a certain special conclusion: which of the high-grossing family films by Columbus is worse, Home Alone or Mrs. Doubtfire? We were in agreement about disliking his overlong Harry Potter adaptations and the hateful I Love You, Beth Cooper, but these two juggernauts of schmaltz towered over us.Â

So if you don’t mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to present a different kind of review. One that definitively answers our question. Today, I provide for you:

The Top 6 Reasons Why Home Alone is Superior to Mrs. Doubtfire, Even Though Both Aren’t Great

Until today, I last endured a viewing of the "classic" family comedy Home Alone during a somewhat peculiar event. My friends and I, all haters of the director Chris Columbus, wished to reach a certain special conclusion: which of the high-grossing family films by Columbus is worse, Home Alone or Mrs. Doubtfire? We were in agreement about disliking his overlong Harry Potter adaptations and the hateful I Love You, Beth Cooper, but these two juggernauts of schmaltz towered over us. 

So if you don't mind, I'd like to take this opportunity to present a different kind of review. One that definitively answers our question. Today, I provide for you:

The Top 6 Reasons Why Home Alone is Superior to Mrs. Doubtfire, Even Though Both Aren't Great{{page_break}}

Simply put, Daniel Stern is far more likable and charming than any actor in Mrs. Doubtfire. He doesn't have much to do in Home Alone (aside from scream in pain), but he elevates the proceedings by simply being there. The whole ensemble is better, really. Macaulay Culkin retains the charisma that captured the hearts of our nation 20 years ago. He is a far more appealing lead than Robin Williams, who tends to be as good as the material he's working with. In the case of Doubtfire, he isn't working with much. 

At the end of the day, Mrs. Doubtfire is a sober family drama that hopes it can be a comedy if it includes Robin Williams doing funny voices. Even with this wackiness, the film still takes itself far more seriously than any film about a man in old lady drag has any right to. Neither film is actually consistently laugh-out-loud funny, but at least Home Alone has a few great lines ("Buzz, your girlfriend! Woof!") and less of a tendency to get bogged down by maudlin mushiness. Speaking of which…

Both films are definitely sentimental schmaltz-fests, but Home Alone is easily the more convincing of the two. Kevin's wish that he can be rid of his family is relatable, and his character arc is well-constructed enough that you are able to believe it when he begins to miss them. There aren't really any emotions in the film that are too difficult to understand or empathize with. Meanwhile, Mrs. Doubtfire has a scene in which Sally Field has a heart-to-heart with Robin Williams where she solemnly explains that she "misses" his nanny alter-ego. The scene is played completely straight. I never want to watch that movie again. 

Home Alone doesn't have the sharpest script in the world – its first section is heavily ripped from Hughes' own Pretty in Pink – but it sure goes down a lot smoother than Doubtfire. No matter what your age, a cute kid calling an adult a big horse's ass feels more clever and subversive than Robin Williams spraying his breasts with a fire extinguisher. 

By not including any Aerosmith songs in its soundtrack, Home Alone is less responsible for keeping the awful rock group's songs in rotation. Seriously, Dude Looks Like A Lady has to be one of the worst songs of all time. Actually, the same rule applies to the film's director just as well. Due to being chronologically earlier than Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone is less at fault for extending the interminable and insufferable career of Chris Columbus. 

This is the most important one by far. At 103 minutes, Home Alone is more than 20 minutes shorter than Mrs. Doubtfire. Yes, Doubtfire is over two hours long. Even if the two films were the exact same quality, Home Alone would STILL be superior for this reason. 

It's worth noting again, though, that Home Alone isn't a fantastic movie. It could be even shorter, and the violence often feels more cruel than humorous. For a film remembered as a wacky madcap comedy, there is more time spent on Kevin missing his family and actually adjusting to life alone than beating down bad guys. Still, it's a decent film that does a good job of conveying what it feels like to be eight years old. 

Overall Score: 6.00 – Okay. (6s are just okay. These movies usually have many flaws, didn’t try to do anything special, or were poorly executed. Some will still love 6s, but most prefer to just rent them. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.)  

Home Alone is much better than Mrs. Doubtfire, though neither film is particularly special.