To give you an idea of where this is going, this article was nearly called “Home Alone – Maybe I’m Overthinking This”
Last week, I wrote a piece on Planes, Trains and Automobiles and touched on some aspects of Home Alone as well. If you haven’t checked it out, please do. It has some thoughts on this film that I won’t be repeating here. Because of that article, I decided it should lead our Christmas content for the year. Home Alone is a favorite film for many, but what does it tap into that makes it so special?
Kevin McCallister as Bruce Wayne
Though recent memes would have you believe that the McCallisters’ wealth is a recent discovery, this is far from the truth. Home Alone constantly refers to the fact that the family is exceptionally wealthy and it is this fact that drives The Wet Bandits to the home. It is also a big factor in Kevin’s ability to combat the bumbling duo. Make no mistake, I’m not making the argument that Kevin’s parents hopping a plane is equivalent to violent death of the Waynes, just that without their mutual extreme wealth, neither Bruce nor Kevin could accomplish their crime-fighting goals. Though Batman is popular across different age-groups, younger audience may have difficulty accessing the emotional core of the character. This often leads children to focus on the “wonderful toys” in Batman’s arsenal. Kevin McCallister’s story is designed to be more relatable to children, but exploits the same ideas to their delight. Kevin uses his resources (which oddly include a lot of mannequins) to craft weapons and defeat his enemies. It is the wealth of his family that gives Kevin the power that children so crave. It is also notable that, while causing chaos, the little vigilante is also able to avoid Police entanglement. Bruce would be proud.
Kevin McCallister as The Black Sheep
On my most recent viewing of the film, something stuck out. Though Kevin is the youngest of five McCallister children, and Macaulay Culkin’s real life brother Kieran portrays his cousin, Kevin doesn’t really resemble his brothers and sisters. This isn’t to say that they were intentionally chosen to be overtly diverse, Home Alone doesn’t win any awards in that category, but I think there is a subtle logic to it. In most ways, Home Alone is a film from Kevin’s perspective. This is broken up by his mother’s odyssey to return to him, but that is in there because it has to be. If we didn’t know his parents were agonizing over what to do, audiences would have difficulty suspending disbelief and that film could spiral out of control. It also helps build to a satisfying ending. Accepting that we are seeing most of the action through Kevin’s eyes makes him an unreliable narrator of sorts. Kevin is an admitted troublemaker and, even at age eight, has alienated himself from much of his family. Yes, his siblings can certainly be cruel, but probably not to the extent that Kevin perceives. Perhaps Kevin’s siblings seem to be so different because he cannot relate to them. Our perception of them is his: all of them different, none of them relatable. It is not until he left alone for quite a long time that he begins to see their positive attributes. Kevin is growing up, but he’s not there yet.
Home Alone remains relevant due to John Hughes understanding of human interaction and Chris Columbus’ wonderful sense of the tale. This piece is largely concerned with a few touches that help the audience connect with the characters, perhaps on a level they don’t perceive readily. That said, what has made it a classic is the emotion brought to it by cast and crew. Yes, I think some subtle aspects truly due enrich and intrigue audiences, but Home Alone works because so many have been able to connect with it.