Home Alone (1990)
Bring Home The Laughter This Holiday Season!
"It's too late for a Christmas movie!" "You dropped the ball on this one." Did I use enough sarcasm in your fake voices? See, this is an instance where an inside joke to myself trumps timeliness or even sensibility really. I wanted to do this movie for the sole and total purpose of me laughing at my own stupid joke - and I'm all the happier for it. This isn't exactly a spring chicken of a movie, it's been around for some time now and no doubt most have seen it. Well, maybe not the newer folks - most the television airtime around winter is devoted to non-stop re-runs of Christmas Story and it's sequel (heaven knows I just discovered that was a thing this year), so the lesser know like this doesn't feel as though it gets nearly as much airtime (and most the rest of us are too busy watching Die Hard to care). Should this be added back into your viewing rotation? Lets check for temperature before we go for the knob.
A family is hectically gathering their stuff and getting ready to go on a big holiday vacation to France. It's a huge family, and they are so busy no one even seems to be able to take the time to even acknowledge the police officer standing there trying to get their attention. Upstairs, one of the kids is trying to get his mother to side with him about being able to watch a movie, but she's preoccupied with a phone call and asks him to go elsewhere. When his bugging levels start to reach critical, the dad steps in for more prep questions until he gets shooed off and told to pack his suitcase. Being a young little fella, he starts to panic about this, since he has no idea what he needs to put in a suitcase and really doesn't want to mess up.
We toss around to different family members, seeing that most will insult him in one way or another - even if done in a semi-nice manner. When pizza finally arrives, the chaos becomes more focused and the cop finally gets to talk to the father of the house - who explains how they are taking off and elaborates that the house should be fine with automated timers and locks and all that stuff. He then gets hurried into the other room as the delivery guy and cop wait. Chaos isn't long from erupting in there either, as the kid from before watches his brother eat the only slice of cheese pizza and tease him for it - prompting a tackle. The tackle causes a huge mess, prompting more family insults and the kid being sent upstairs. Understandably a bit riled up, the kid proclaims how he wishes his family was all gone - something his mother cautions him that he doesn't really want. Still, he makes his big wish and storms off to bed.
A storm rolls in at night, knocking out the power. The family, in the great hurried blitzkrieg after realizing they slept in, end up skittering off without realizing that the one kid isn't actually with them. In fact, they don't even realize it till most the way through the flight. The kid, on the other hand, is only briefly sad before he starts having a blast doing things he shouldn't do - like sledding down the stairs or shooting things with an air rifle. Fun can't last forever though, as we witness some robbers laying eyes on the place - one of which happens to be the policeman from before! Can the kid fend off the duo of thieves long enough for his family to arrive, or is his luck all washed up?
I'm doing the story a bit of disservice in my opinion by not mentioning a little side-story that's going on in the background of the movie. See, although the kid and his interaction with the crooks, as well as his family trying to get back to him are the main characters and plot, the family's neighbor is actually probably the best part (emotionally) of the movie. Here's a character that doesn't even say a word until the final stretch of the movie, but is rumored to be a serial killer and other sorts of things - something that could be backed up by the spooky bell chords hit every time he appears on the screen. In that final act, there's this emotional little story that the main kid feeds off of as they talk back and forth - and it helps drive home a serious bit of story that the comedy of the rest of the movie could really overshadow.
That comedy, by the way, is incredibly largely slapstick. If you don't find that stuff funny, then this probably won't be the flick for you. Although the general mood throughout watching was positive, I admit I only laughed at two moments - both of which were actually facial expressions. The triumphant "I'm not afraid anymore!" scene being cut short by the spooky neighbor prompting the first laugh, and the "my head is on fire!" face made by one of the crooks being the second. Part of it could be from having seen it before - but the fact that even knowing they were coming still managed to get chuckles out of me in those two scenes shows there's still something about the movie that holds up.
The acting is kind of mixed. As far as comedy goes, it works well - with the spooky neighbor really feeling like the best acted character when it comes to his and the kid's exchange later in the movie. Of course, the others all do a fine job of acting too, but at times it can seem less than stellar purely just because of all the slapstick going on at times. There are memorable lines thrown throughout this movie - so much so that even the movie watched within this movie has lines that people can and have been quoting for ages. Effects are handled well, even though there may be some continuity errors here and there (such as the direction of burns or the likes). Most of this comes into play during the traps scenes, and most are really well thought and innovative little deathtraps - except the feathering, which is totally the most out of place thing beyond "hey, it's slapstick!"
This is a fun movie. Was back then, and maybe not so surprisingly still is. Maybe the jokes aren't as funny as a recall them once being, and perhaps my emotional ties have switched to a different character than back then, but the things still works well. It's PG enough that a family can sit down and watch it together, and simple enough that it's best watched without thinking too hard (because really, those crooks would be dead so many times over) and just for the enjoyment of it. The morals are certainly best suited for that Christmas-time season, but beyond asking Santa to bring your family back after you wished them away and all the Christmas music, it's pretty easy to watch this one outside of the season and still have fun with it.