A Review of ‘Home Alone’ from a First-Time, Twenty-Something Viewer
Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I listen to the Christmas carols, I do all the baking, and I especially love watching all of the television Christmas specials and feature holiday movies. This is why it may come as a surprise that I haven’t seen one of the most beloved classic Christmas movies: Home Alone.
I’m not really sure how this came about. I don’t think it would have been an issue in my household when it first came out (like many, The Simpsons was forbidden in my house growing up). But even through the countless Christmases, the watching and re-watching of holiday films and the countless airings of many great films on television, I somehow completely missed seeing Home Alone.
So, when the theater one town over from me advertised a Saturday morning screening of the movie, I jumped at the chance. Seeing a film on the big screen is a fun event in its own right, but seeing an older movie? It’s a rarity that simply cannot be missed.
My sister and I arrived at the movie theater fifteen minutes before the film was scheduled to start. Immediately, we were faced with two words that no movie goer wants to see: SOLD OUT. I’m fairly certain I gave a little shriek as my sister ran up to the counter to speak to an attendant. Apparently luck was in our favor: there were two tickets left. Surprised at the popularity, we bought the tickets and headed for the theater.
We might as well have been going to see a Harry Potter movie on opening night. Every seat in the house was full, even the first two rows (which had been filled with a Santa hat-wearing group of birthday girls). We managed to find two seats in the corner of the very last row. I must have made a noise as I sat down, because the older woman next to me immediately looked up.
“Pretty crazy in here, huh?” she asked. In the moments before the movie started, the woman told me how surprised she had been at the turnout, especially with how often it showed on television. But, it was her grandson’s favorite movie, so she had to come and see it with the family. Her grandson, as it turned out, was the eight-old-year sitting a few seats down who was literally bouncing in his seat. (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was my first time seeing it.)
Soon, the lights dimmed, and the general hum and hush of excitement started to fade. The movie started. And let me tell you, from its start to its closing, I could not have been any more impressed.
As everyone knows, the film is about Kevin McCallister being left ‘home alone’ over the holidays, and how he finds himself defending his house from criminals. Just as a refresher, I went back and watched the trailer again after seeing the film. That’s exactly the main pitch of the film. But what surprised me was how the majority of the clips of Kevin defending the house only made up for the last twenty minutes of the film.
Of course, it was during these scenes that I realized how many kids were in the audience. Looking at the movie from a kid’s perspective, I can see the appeal. Kevin is the weakest of his family and suddenly he’s left with a whole house to himself, where he can do anything he wants and eat anything he wants. He gets to go sledding down his front stairs, watch inappropriate gangster movies… oh, and outsmart two idiotic criminals. For experiencing the film in theaters, the last twenty minutes were my favorite. If there’s something more joyous than the complete, uncontrolled and genuine laughter of fifty kids, I don’t know what it is.
Seeing the film as an adult though gave me a whole new perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I was laughing as hard as the kids were through the last twenty minutes. But the heartbreak of the Mom staying behind alone to get back to her son, the disconnection between the elderly neighbor and his family, and Kevin’s fear of the basement, these were things I connect with now. If I had seen the movie as a kid and re-watched it now, I would still appreciate those aspects of it. But watching it every Christmas? I feel like I would have grown immune.
In the end, I was definitely glad I saw the film. I can’t say I’ll become as addicted as that eight-year-old sitting down the row from me (he was saying some of the lines along with, and even before, the movie). But it’s definitely a movie for me to pick up for my holiday movies collection. I’m glad I got to see such a great Christmas classic, even if it was twenty-two years late.
Would this be a bad time to mention that I haven’t seen A Christmas Story either?