Home Alone 1 & 2 – Holiday Hilarity and Head Injuries

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Podcast, Two Drink Cinema | 0 comments

The second most violent Christmas movie series after Die Hard, Home Alone is a holiday classic and a regular part of many people’s December viewing. It’s our nostalgic rewatch for the Christmas month and it was interesting viewing with our ‘reviewer’ hats on. 

On the surface, it’s great family fun. A slapstick comedy where a kid sets up fun booby traps to defend his home against two robbers. If you want to keep it in your mind as that fun-filled holiday romp then don’t read further, because the deeper you go the more it starts to lean towards proving Kevin grows up to be Jigsaw, exacting his judgement on sinners.
Kevin is left at home by his parents and when he encounters Harry and Marv, two nasty robbers, he must defend and protect himself and foil their plans. That’s the plot. To part 1 and part 2. There’s a definite crossover. Maybe a little find and replace. There’s an old scary-looking person in both. The same ‘baddies’ in both (somehow Marv and Harry escape prison and make it to New York for part 2). An old gangster movie in both. The main difference is that in the first movie the family wants to actually see Paris whereas in the second one Miami looks like a shithole. I don’t know which New York City official had it in for Miami but they managed to sway John Hughes. 

There has already been a lot of discussion about the violence of these two movies. A lot more discussion about how much more violent the second film is than the first. While the number of ‘traps’ that Kevin lays for Harry and Marv are about on par, Kevin steps up in terms of potential damage. Dropping them down three stories onto concrete is tough to come back from. But after that Marv grabs onto electrified tapware while standing in a puddle of water and Harry dunks his flaming head into a toilet filled with gasoline. I’m not sure either of these guys would survive to be prosecuted for the breaking and entering Kevin has photographic evidence of. 

I didn’t want this review to turn into a list of reasons why I think Kevin should take the space vacated by Michael Myers under Dr. Samuel Loomis’s care but here we are. 

In Home Alone (1) he invites the bad guys into the house. He leaves the doors unlocked. If his goal is protection, locking the doors is step one. Once they’re in the house, he doesn’t try to trap them, or even call the police, until he’s lured them to each and every one of his violent, painful traps. Not kid-level painful either, other than maybe slipping on a toy car, these have potentially serious, painful consequences.
But it isn’t until the second film that we see how being left behind by his family has really caused something inside Kevin McCallister to irrevocably snap. He knows the baddies’ plan, he has a recording on his TalkBoy of them stating their plan (incidentally, the TalkBoy was just created as an idea for the movie but when the movie was released, lots of kids wanted them so Tiger Electronics created a real version). Kevin then goes to Duncan’s Toy Chest and photographs the robbers inside the shop before tripping the alarm and alerting authorities. But then he lures them into another den of torture, including nail guns, blowtorches, brick hurling, and the aforementioned electrocution and explosion. This is some serious shit. 

But will he ever be punished? No. Because his parents will forever be trying to make up for the fact that they left him behind two Christmases in a row (and on another holiday if you include Home Alone 4).

But really, aside from the torture, they’re both great family movies. They really are Christmas movies with all of the trimmings. A happy ending, a family enjoying their Christmas morning together, lessons of love, hope, and happiness. The main lesson though isn’t for the parents (otherwise we wouldn’t have had Home Alone 2), the main learning seems to be from Kevin to his new senior friends, the Shovel Slayer and the Pigeon Lady. For his age, Kevin is extremely wise and for some reason people decades older than him seem to open up and value his counsel. He calls the Slayer silly for being scared and the Pigeon Lady dumb for not seeking a date so it’s not all sugar-coated advice, but he gets his message across. 

Macaulay Culkin carries both films and his star potential is very clear throughout. He shares a screen with some big names, Catherine O’Hara, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Tim Curry. These are all seasoned professionals, working with a kid who is well and truly holding his own.

Home Alone is going to stay on my December watchlist, higher than Home Alone 2, and will be regularly viewed because it is fun and for the most part the violence is slapstick (I do have to look away when Marv steps on the nail though). It’s got a great message about family which regular listeners and readers will know I love. So it’s a firm favourite of mine. 

Brett and I chat a lot more about it in our podcast episodes, the preview, and the review. Check them out below and subscribe to our podcast on your favourite app. 

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