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Home Alone (1990)

A family comedy without the family.

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 103 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG


John Hughes has a knack for writing about what teenagers get up to when left to their own devices. In ‘The Breakfast Club’, there’s shenanigans afoot when a gaggle of students get together for detention time. In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the slacker king turns into man about town behind his parents’ – and teachers’ – backs. Then there’s ‘Weird Science’, where two High School geeks even go as far as to bio-engineer their very own woman. ‘Home Alone’ could be said to run along the same vein, only with the crucial difference of the star of the show being an eight-year-old.

So, how do you orchestrate a scenario where an ankle-biter’s left on his own? You have his entire family accidentally head for a Christmas vacation in Paris without him, that’s how. And that’s how fresh-faced young ‘un Kevin McCallister comes to be left in his parents’ ridiculously-large house, completely on his lonesome. The only problem is, keeping things that way becomes increasingly problematic when bungling burglars Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) take a shine to the place and fancy making off with the widescreen TV. Of course, you might think that a call to the local police station, or even asking for a bit of help from the neighbours, might be the best way to nip this thing in the bud. But no, our Kev has a much better idea – and it involves booby traps. Lots of them.

Even if you haven’t seen this flick, chances are you’ll have guessed plausibility isn’t one of its strong points. It also suffers from a plot arc which goes distinctly saggy in the middle, dragged down by the fact that, in-between the setting-up of the overall premise and the hilarious final half-hour, very little actually happens.

But, despite all of that, most of us have a bit of affection for ‘Home Alone’. It features Culkin before he became all grown-up and funny-looking and, no matter how many times I see it, the frantic climax where the crims get their comeuppance never loses its humour. In fact, there are great performances all round, and it’s worth noting that Pesci delivered this fine tongue-in-cheek comic display in the same year that he gave us his terrifying Oscar-winning portrayal of Tommy DeVito in ‘Goodfellas’. The guy hasn’t made a movie since 1998, and Hollywood’s the weaker for it.

The $533 million ‘Home Alone’ made worldwide was enough to earn it a place in the Guinness Book of Records for highest grossing comedy ever. Nowadays, Culkin can try as hard as he might to escape its shadow (and it has to be said that Party Monster and Saved! were both decent efforts in their own way), but you can’t help but feel that he’ll always be fighting an uphill battle.

It's Got: The late, great, John Candy as the Polka King of the Mid-West. You’ve got to love the big man’s work.

It Needs: The fast-forward button close to hand, just in case you get a bit bored and want to skip to the really good bit.

DVD Extras Trailers for this one, the fair-to-middling sequel, and the absolutely diabolical ‘Home Alone 3’. DVD Extras Rating: 2/10


The film that made Little Mac Culkin an overnight star still fits the festive bill – even if only for that terrific last half-hour!