So what constitutes a guilty pleasure? It’s a film that I like for personal reasons, and thus, probably have watched more than I should have.
Robert Ebert says, and I quote, “Because all plausibility is gone, we sit back, detached, to watch stunt men and special effects guys take over a movie that promised to be the kind of story audiences could identify with.” Per usual, his refutation of the Christmas classic, Home Alone, is a compelling one, certainly one which is generally supported by the critic community. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rotten 55% rating compared to the audiences’ 79%.
It is also an argument which is certainly understandable coming from a man of his stature and taste. But even as I grow up from kid to adult, I still find utter joy in revisiting Home Alone from time to time.
Home Alone features a story that hits home to me. The main character’s name, as played by child star Macaulay Culkin, is Kevin. He lives in a suburban neighborhood outside of Chicago. And while I’m not part of any large family reunions during the holiday season, practically everything else established in the beginning had me thinking, “Hey! That’s me!”
However, the introduction–in my mind–is the sloppiest part of the movie, particularly when viewing the movie critically. Kevin is made out to be the trouble-maker in the family even though he is constantly bullied by his not so nice relatives. It’s here where the filmmakers’ intentions are unclear, but I interpret this as being a plot device for making Kevin wish for his family to disappear, and then in Christmas-fashion, getting his dream to come true. This makes for a fast segue into the second act of the film, which is easily the most enjoyable section to watch, at least in my first viewing.
At first glance, it may seem like my liking of this film is surface deep. But it’s not just that I share my name with the main character, though that never fails to excite me for some reason. It’s that I can relate with Kevin. When I was a kid, which is when I was first exposed to Home Alone, I could relate to his desire to do old adult stuff. This film does a great job at making mundane tasks of an adult comical or charming, such as shaving or going grocery shopping.
Kevin also does everything that I ever wanted to do as a kid. I’m mostly talking about ordering pizza, scaring the pizza guy, and stuffing my face with ice cream while watching TV. All of these moments are engraved in my head to this day, and while nostalgia could be playing a big role in my bias, certainly not all movies had this effect on me as a kid. Home Alone can at least take pride in this, and ultimately, I believe it is these memorable moments that make it the Christmas family classic it is today.
Yes, the third act is probably most susceptible to critique, but I personally like the change of pace in this section. Sure, it’s hardly believable, but the humor is right up my alley. It really reminds me of cartoons like Tom and Jerry, which I also grew up watching as a kid. In short, Home Alone is a looking glass back into my past. It represents what I watched during the holidays along with the type of humor I’ve grown up to accept, develop, and mature. Even as the mystique of Christmas wears off for me as I grow older, Home Alone continues to remind me why I liked Christmas so much in the first place. The union of family. And also…