HOME ALONE Tuesday 06 December, 2011

The film that started the end of Macaulay Culkin’s career.

It’s many years since I watched this film. In actual fact I was going to keep it that way but I thought that in the interest of making this christmas section complete I ought to watch it one more time. I’m glad I did.

I’m not sure I need to go into the set up in too great a deal. Most of you will have already seen it and if you haven’t it’s called Home Alone. I’ll let you guess what the main plot points are. Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin, a precocious child who is left behind when his family rush off on their christmas holiday. The younger Culkin (Kieran) is also in this film as Fuller, the infamous bed-wetter.

This film is directed by Chris Columbus and produced by Mark Radcliffe (amongst others). These two were involved in the Harry Potter films (reasonably good) and Christmas with the Kranks (unreasonably awful) but rest assured this is one of their finer moments.

The bulk of the film is feelgood tosh. It does make you feel good but it is tosh. Catherine O’Hara (typically awesome) and John Heard (the crooked cop from The Sopranos) play the stressed out and negligent parents. Catherine O’Hara is actually unpleasant to her child and you wonder if she’ll live to regret her words. She almost does but then it all works in the end and she isn’t forced to learn what a shitty mother she is. I wonder what it would have been like if Kevin had provided us with all of the good japes and yuks but then died of poor kitchen hygiene. Then she’d regret it. Then there’d be learning.

At one point having realised that maybe she’s not as all that as she thinks she is Kevin’s mother is desperately trying to get a flight back home only to find out that there are none to be had. The more attentive among you might notice that the Airline’s flight desk is manned by (a very young) Hope Davis who we should recognise as Harvey Pekar’s wife from the brilliant American Splendor.

It is at this point that John Candy pops up. It is many years since I have watched a John Candy film and I have to admit I felt a wave of nostalgia and sadness when he appeared. I had forgotten that he was in this film and his presence engenders so many memories from childhood. It is a real shame that he died so young. It is unusual for an actor to have such presence on screen and we may have missed out on his wilderness years and then his triumphant return as a serious actor or in cooler-than-you hipster indies. A shame.

The real stars of this film are the two inept burglars, perfectly played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern (who looks like a cross between Andy Murray and Will Arnett). They are perfect as the torture victims of Kevin’s booby traps. I think it probably would not have been quite as funny with lesser actors in those roles.

I am a little uneasy about the cartoon violence in this film. I find it hilarious but I’m not sure I like what it says about me as a person. Anyway most people are probably too busy laughing to wonder if they should be and that is how it should be.


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