“Home Alone” is my favorite movie. Ever. To me, it’s not just a classic Christmas movie – it’s a mark in time, a piece of pop culture, a portion of a legacy, and a story everyone can relate to (I swear).
About a month ago, I muttered a one-liner from the movie at work (“Mom… Dad… Uncle Frank… Where are you guys?”), and one of my coworkers admitted she’d NEVER seen the movie. Umm, what? I tried to explain just how much she was missing out, but she couldn’t understand, she’d missed out on one of John Hughes best pieces of work.
Last week, I went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see it in the theatre. They were hosting a pizza party, meaning each movie ticket came with all-you-can-eat cheese pizza, because… Little Nero’s.
Seeing my favorite movie on the big screen made me notice a few things I hadn’t before, and I got to thinking about why SO many people love this movie. I think there’s a lot more to the film than just a cute kid and some sloppy robbers. So, let’s explore – because… well… “It’s Christmas time and there’s always a lot of robberies around the holidays, so we’re just checking the area to make sure everyone is taking the proper precautions.”
Christmas, as a theme.
Obviously, “Home Alone” is typically seen as a Christmas movie. There’s lights, snow, an underpaid Santa Claus who smokes cigarettes, and let’s face it: the McCallister residence is COVERED in red and green (seriously, the wallpaper, comforters, pots and pans… look next time you watch).
But the fact that this story takes place around the holidays is more than just a coincidence. For one, Christmastime completely lends itself to robberies, making way for the Wet Bandits to lurk in the shadows (after all, kids are afraid of the dark!). The holiday season also creates the perfect reason for an entire family to take a vacation, not to mention a vacation overseas, for an extended amount of time. The winter season also makes two additional things possible: the storm that knocks out the power and the phone lines, which causes the family to oversleep, and later complicates things when they’re trying to contact Kevin.
And finally, the Christmas holiday brings out the child in all of us. Let’s talk more about that…
Typical Roles of an Adult vs. Child
In most movies, children play the roles of children, and adults play the roles of adults. But, in “Home Alone”, things are a little different. There are two scenes that really drive this point home. First, let’s look at the church scene between Kevin and his neighbor – also known as The Southbend Shovel Slayer.
That line from Kevin, “No offense, but aren’t you a little old to be afraid?”
While both characters are offering each other advice, Kevin playing the role of the adult in this scene, offering life advice to his older neighbor in the form of a metaphor with the scary basement. But did you catch why he was in the basement? To do laundry. Not something a typical 8-year-old would do. See?
The other scene that proves my point is, of course, the grocery scene.
Not only is he grocery shopping alone as an adult, he offers up coupons (which he clipped from the morning paper), and is reading an issue of “Good Housekeeping”.
I also can’t complete this analysis without mentioning the scene in the beginning when Kevin is fretting over packing his suitcase. He’s throwing a fit, jumping up and down, shouting, “When I grow up, I’m living alone!” There’s lots of one-liners that mention growing up, being grown up, or kids – all which swirl around our typical ideals for these roles.
Overcoming Challenges to be the Person You Want to Be
And finally, nearly all of the characters in this film must overcome personal challenges in order to be the person they want to be.
For the neighbor, he wants to be a good grandfather. In order to do that, he must overcome his fear of his son not answering his calls, and he must make things right in order to bring his family together.
For Kevin’s mom, she really does want to be a good mom (despite the obvious). In order to make that happen, she has to find a way home to Kevin (by air, or polka moving van), and prove that she loves him unconditionally.
For the Wet Bandits, they want to be amongst the silver tuna! To do it, they must lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top, but not without overcoming Kevin’s house of tricks.
And finally, for Kevin, he ultimately wants to show his family he loves them – yes, even Uncle Frank – and to do that, he must protect his house, and drown the Wet Bandits!
And there you have it, my analysis of “Home Alone”! I’d love to hear other things you’ve noticed about this fantastic flick!