Ho ho ho, ‘Gasmii! It’s time to spread cheer and warmth throughout the world, by means of fun recaps of Christmas movies. I couldn’t say no when Flipit came a-callin’.
Let it be known now that Home Alone is my favorite movie OF ALL TIME. I’m a 30-something year old woman, I’m well-educated and have a good job–my favorite movie should be some indie film or something, ya know? Nope, it’s a cheesy Christmas flick that I saw in the theaters when it came out in 1990. I cringe every time I see someone make fun of Macauley’s “AAAAAH” face-clapping gesture, and yet this is my favorite movie. Yup.
I swear I’m not emotionally stunted.
I love this movie so much, and I’ve seen it so many times, I’m a little worried about writing this recap. I might get bogged down in some of the details, and I might write less about scenes I don’t really care about (like when Kevin goes to visit the stupid Santa and he gives him Tic Tacs. Who cares?). Wish me luck!
We open with the best Christmas movie score ever. Music is big in this movie, big enough that I bought the soundtrack a bunch of years ago. What a nerd! But it’s so iconic. Twinkly organ (is that the celesta? The same that’s in the Nutcracker?), the flutes, the jingle bells, some minor key jauns happening. I love this movie!! Oh, and cue the graphic of the McCallister household, windows dark until one–one!–lights up.
And there she is, the most beautiful house in the land. I LOVE old homes like this, with tons of windows and brick and dormer windows and large trees. Decorated for Christmas, it’s even better. The McCallister home is my dream home. (And it was recently on the market. Anyone got a spare $1.7 million so I can buy it?)
We hear a shit-ton of voices as we head inside. Oh, there’s a cop! It’s Joe Pesci! He’s never anyone bad, right? He’s trying to get the attention of a zillion kids who are acting like assholes all around him. They keep ignoring him. Hate to break it to you, but this is the first “um, hardly” moment of the movie. In MY childhood home, if a cop came to the door, you quit whatever the fuck you were doing and talked to him until he went away. You didn’t just shrug and go one with your day. It’s almost incongruous…rich white people usually give cops a lot of attention, but not today!
Upstairs, Mom/Kate and Dad/Peter are packing for a big trip. Mom (Catherine O’Hara) wearing a super casual outfit of a collared blouse with a suit. I always hang out at home and pack wearing suits. Come on. Little Macauley Culkin is harassing her as she packs, asking why he can’t watch the movie Uncle Frank is watching. “If Uncle Frank says no, then…it must be really bad, ” she bullshits. Dad (John Heard, looking pretty DILFy, if I must say so myself) asks if Mom got the voltage adapter. Oh, they’re going abroad. Mom is so warm and loving, she obviously makes a lot of time for her family. “No, I didn’t have time to do that. Grow a goatee.”
Whoa. Add a goatee, and I’d really want to F that D.
Mom and Dad have had enough of Kevin, so when Aunt Leslie comes in to see about a voltage adapater (do these people not plan for anything?), Dad deposits Kevin into her arms. Aunt Leslie’s kinda cold, too, and she dumps Kevin as soon as she gets into the hallway. “Go pack your suitcase.” “PACK? MY SUITCASE?” Kevin is in existential crisis.
Other kids are wandering around, pretty competently for children, gathering items they need for the impending trip. We’re learning that they don’t ALL live here. Some are Aunt Leslie and Uncle Frank’s kids, and some are Kevin’s brothers and sisters. It’s been twenty years, and while I’ve never really sat down to map it all out, I still have seen this movie enough times that you think I’d know whose kids are whose. And I totally don’t. Like, I think Kevin’s sister is the blonde one who calls him incompetent (I’m jumping the gun) and his brother is Buzz, but is that it for the Chicago McCallisters? Are there three sets of families here? I think there are–some of the kids belong to an aunt and uncle in Paris, as we’ll learn. Right? And who is whose brother or sister? Is this Kate’s or Peter’s family? Since Paris is involved and Kate looks pretty stuffy, I’ll call it Kate’s family.
See, I told you I was going to get bogged down in this! Halp! Though I almost appreciate this exercise for making me REALLY think about the plight of Kevin McCallister.
Meanwhile, Officer Pesci is still waiting around downstairs. Who the fuck is going to break away from their self-absorbed tasks to help this poor man? No one, apparently. Not one person. “All kids, no parents…must be some kind of fancy orphanage.”
Oh wait, the blonde girl isn’t Kevin’s sister. The darker haired one who looks like her is. As is the scrawny ginger kid, who’s NOT the scrawny brunette kid with glasses. Too many people to keep track of! I’ve obviously gone with economy of memory with these chumps over the years. Anyway, Kevin’s pestering all of them, as he is apparently apt to do, only now it’s because he thinks he has to pack his own suitcase.
These kids are actually really mean to Kevin about his helplessness. I never thought about it this way before. He’s seven. Nowadays, seven year olds are tweeting and mowing lawns and stuff, so I would understand older sisters being bitchy about him being so helpless as to not be able to pack his own suitcase. But this was 1990. Seven year olds pretty much had to A) turn off the television when they were done watching it, B) wash their hands before dinner, and C) practice writing the letters of the alphabet. I don’t think I ever packed a suitcase for myself when *I* was seven.
Oh, Kevin just called his brother “puke breath.” Ha! One of the cousins makes some comment about Jeff packing crap. Wait, the blonde girl IS a sister? She must be, she just told him that mom’s going to pack his suitcase for him. Not “your mom.” So that’s Buzz, the brown-haired girl, Jeff (the ginger), Linnie (the blonde), and Kevin. Wow. Kate and Peter like to fuck.
Linnie busts out one of the iconic lines from this movie. “You’re what the French call ‘les incompetents.” Yay! Oh, and coming immediately after that is the warning that Kevin will have to sleep with Fuller (played by the adorable, teeny tiny little Keiran Culkin), and if Fuller has too much Pepsi, he’ll wet the bed. Kevin gets all pissed off and starts shouting, “This house sucks…when I grow up, I’m living alone. You hear me? I’m living alone! I’m living alone!” Officer Pesci watches with fascination from the foyer below.
Ah, iconic moment (for me) #3 (#1 = “les incompetents”, #2 = Fuller has too much Pepsi): “Who’s going to feed your spider while we’re gone?” Buzz answers in halted speech, “He…just ate a load of mice guts. HE should be good for a week.” That halt after “he” in both sentences makes me laugh. Then Buzz asks the nerdy kid about French babes not shaving their pits, about nude beaches. Buzz checks his Sport Walkman (remember those?!) as Kevin walks in.
Iconic moment #4:
Buzz: Don’t you know how to knock, phlegmwad?
Kevin: Can I sleep in your room? I don’t want to sleep on the hideabed with Fuller. If he has too much to drink, he’ll wet the bed!
Buzz: I wouldn’t let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass!!!
Old Man Marley breaks the tension. He’s the old neighbor guy next door, a grizzled sort who really likes to shovel the walk and spread salt from a metal garbage can. Buzz makes up a tale of Old Man Marley being the South Bend Shovel Slayer, who murdered his family and got away with it due to lack of evidence. Now he’s just waiting to strike again. Oh, and he puts bodies in the salt can. The salt turns bodies into mummies. The kids are all watching intently from Buzz’s bedroom window as Old Man Marley shovels and salts, shovels and salts. Then he looks up at them, and they all panic, fussing with the curtain to hide them from view. My heart breaks a little. Old men bum me out pretty hardcore. (Long story.)
Oh, it’s the pizza guy! I should probably stop counting the iconic moments in the movie, because it’s already getting old and we’re only seven minutes in. But I remember seeing this in the movie theater with my cousins on Thanksgiving night, and I remember being a hormonal early teenager who’d never even had a kiss with a boy. I saw the pizza guy and thought, “Maybe he’ll be my boyfriend! He’s cute, but not too cute to be with me…” The rest of the movie devolved into teen girl crush shit whenever he was on screen. Anyway, he screeches up in a crappy car and does a controlled skid into the driveway, knocking over the lawn ornament by the front door. He wrestles it into place before bringing all the pizzas inside.
Officer Pesci is STILL waiting to talk to a responsible adult. The pizza guy knocks and Pesci lets him him. Fuller and his equally bespectacled sister are staring blankly at the cop. Pizza guy gives the total to Officer Pesci who’s like, “Not me, kid, I don’t live here.” “Oh, you’re around for the holidays?” “I guess you could say that.” UH OH.
Uncle Frank comes round the bend, taking the pizzas off my future boyfriend’s hands. But he ain’t paying for it! No, it’s his brother’s house, so he’ll get it. Oh! So, this isn’t Kate’s family, it’s Peter’s. Interesting. Later, Peter makes a comment about family vacations being a lot less extravagant when he was a kid. He must be doing well for himself. Now he’s an even bigger DILF.
Speaking of Peter McCallister, here he is, ready to chat with the cop and arrange for the pizza guy to get paid! Officer Pesci is like, “I’m just here to warn you about thieves being all up in your shit this holiday. You’re all safe, right? Tell me all about the home protection measures you’ve got in place. Also, how long do you intend to be out of town? Excellent, thank you for this information.”
Kevin heads in to the kitchen to get some pizza, and the swarm of McCallisters have already eaten everything in sight. Aunt Leslie warns Fuller, “Go easy on the Pepsi!” (Fuller wiggles his eyebrows at Kevin.) DILF’s trying to get some cash for the pizza guy, and Uncle Frank is desperate to not have to contribute. Kate’s all put out when she goes into her enormous leather wallet that looks soft enough to have been crafted from the skin of babies. Think it’s Coach?
Kevin, meanwhile, really needs to locate the plain cheese pizza. He doesn’t want all the other shit on it, just sauce and cheese. Buzz is cramming an entire pizza into his pie-hole all at once, which appears to be something he does regularly. He sneers at Kevin, telling him that if he wants a plain cheese pizza, someone’s going to have to barf it up, cuz it’s all gone. Kevin looks around, annoyed at everyone, and then Buzz pretends to be pukey. “Kev! Kev! Get a plate!” I’m laughing as I’m typing this out. I fucking love this movie.
Anyway, Kevin’s pissed and he runs full-steam into Buzz, who falls backwards, knocking over all the glasses of milk that are on the counter. The milk spills on the plane tickets and passports, and everyone jumps up in a hurry to stem the milk tide. Someone pushes a chair right into Fuller’s face as he walks behind ‘em. It’s chaos. Did DILF just throw a ticket into the trash? HOLY SHIT, HE JUST DID. And now I understand why they got SO FAR into their trip before realizing Kevin was gone. Otherwise, they would have noticed that they had an extra ticket. It took me twenty years to put that together. Holy shit.
When it’s all over, people are pissed. “Look what you did, you little jerk.” They’re all staring at him. Mom tells him to go upstairs. “Kevin, you’re such a disease.”
Mom drags him out by his elbow. Oh, there’s the cop and the pizza guy! Mom pays the pizza guy and explains to Officer Pesci the whole deal with the whole family going to Paris and all. Officer Pesci winks at Kevin, his gold toot flashing as he smiles. He tells Kate that her home is in good hands while the family is away. Wink wink.
“There are fifteen people in this house, and you’re the only one who has to make trouble.” Kevin IS a bit of an asshole, to be very honest. His mom tells him to get upstairs, and he replies, “I am upstairs, dummy.” She meant up in the attic, you little asshole. Kevin’s scared of the attic. But don’t worry, Fuller will be up soon. “He’ll pee all over me, I know it!” Mom’s like, “Fine, we’ll put him somewhere else.” Clue two for Kevin being left home alone, no one accounting for his whereabouts overnight, him sleeping alone upstairs, out of the fray.
As he goes upstairs, Kevin tells his mom that everyone hates him, so she tells him to ask Santa for a new family. “I don’t want a new family. I don’t want any family. Families suck.” He continues, telling her he never wants to see her or any of the rest of the family again. She grows quiet. “I hope you don’t mean that. You’d be pretty sad if you woke up tomorrow and didn’t have a family.” Kevin is defiant, tells her he would definitely NOT be sad. “Then say it again. Maybe it’ll happen.” He does.
And that’s that.
In the overnight hours, it’s really windy and wintry out there. A wreath is snatched from its home by the winds. And then a large tree branch breaks, falling on the electrical lines just outside the McCallister home.
And then it’s the next morning. An electric company lineman is up in his bucket, checking the transformer. Two airport shuttle vans are waiting outside. One driver is putting the lawn ornament back on its pedestal, and the other is knocking on the McCallister door. Why aren’t they answering? Oh, because the power had gone out. No alarm clocks. This would never happen today. My cell phone is my main alarm clock.
Kate sleepily reaches a hand out to check the alarm clock. No time. She grabs her watch from the nightstand. A moment later, she wakes up screaming, “PETER!” They both leap out of bed, stare at each other a second, then shout simultaneously, “WE SLEPT IN!” Why they don’t shout, “WE OVERSLEPT!,” which is more accurate, I have no idea. Sleeping in means you spent the morning in bed, enjoying sleep. Oversleeping means you slept way past your alarm.
The house is chaos again, as everyone’s now awake and frantically getting everything ready to go for this big, 15-person family vacation to Paris. Holy shit. I’d just give up then, stay home and watch Christmas movies in my jammies for a few days instead. I mean, it’s just Paris. I really hate to feel like I’m being rushed.
A little neighbor kid about the same height and age as Kevin stops by to bug the van drivers as they’re loading up with all the luggage. “Did you know the McCallisters are going to France? Do you know if it’s cold there? Do these vans get good gas mileage?” “Gee, I don’t know, kid. Hit the road!” What a Chicago accent!
More frenzy inside. Kate asks an older sister, one of the ones that belongs to the parents in France, to do a head count of the kids, make sure they’ve got everyone. She’s still in her nightgown, but okay. Also, Kate’s blouse is ENORMOUS. Is that a rich person thing or an 80s/90s thing? I don’t remember Melanie Griffith wearing it in Working Girl, so it must be a rich person thing.
“How fast does this thing go? Does it have automatic transmission? Does it have four wheel drive?” “Look, I told you before, kid, don’t bother me.” The McCallisters spill out of the house, heading to the vans. The older sister has the kids line up so she can count. Buzz tries to trip her up as she counts, and that little neighbor kid is standing with them, going through everyone’s stuff. She counts him as one of the kids. Oops! “Have a good trip! Bring me back something French!”
“There’s no way we’re going to make this plane, it leaves in 45 minutes!” Uncle Frank is so bitchy. “Think positive, Frank!” “You be positive, I’ll be realistic.” So many good things to quote! I use this one sometimes in my regular life. The electric company dude is trying to explain to Kate what’s going on, but she doesn’t give a shit. She’s pretty rude to him, actually, but he’s also a bit of a moron for thinking she gives a shit when she’s GETTING INTO AN AIRPORT SHUTTLE.
I remember taking a trip not long after I first saw this movie, and we had to connect through O’Hare. I remember thinking, “This is the same airport the McCallisters ran through when they were trying to get to Paris!” Oh, I’m so lame. Anyway, “Run Run Rudolph” plays as they sprint through the airport, knocking people over. Peter is wearing a very nice Burberry toggle coat. Quick Google search shows prices today ranging from $700 to $1100. Holy shit. They just barely make the flight, and the gate attendant counts heads as they pour through. There’s never a count of ticket per body, but that doesn’t matter because one ticket is in the trash and one body is upstairs asleep on the hideabed.
The parents get situated in their seats in first class (!!) while the kids infiltrate coach. They’re just so relieved that they made it. “I hope we didn’t forget anything.”
Cue Kevin opening the attic door, hair totally rumpled in just the cutest way. I’m sure a little kid didn’t just sleep in full plaid pajamas with a white undershirt, but I’ll suspend disbelief because it’s so cute.
The plane takes off.
Kevin strolls around the house, wondering a little bit why it’s so quiet. “Mom? Dad?” What a gorgeous house. I just love it so much. It’s a little too much red and green for regular life, but for this move, it’s just perfect. I’m getting teary talking about it. Kevin watches TV for a few minutes but still can’t figure out where everyone is. “Mom?”
First class gets their dinners served, with real crystal. Uncle Frank insists that Aunt Leslie put the crystal in her purse. A flight attendant comes by just then to refill his champagne. “Thank you.” Oh, I didn’t catch the nuance of that “thank you” in print, but if you’re a fan of this movie, you know what I’m talking about! Kate feels “like a heel” for flying first class while the kids fly coach. Peter’s like, “Bitch, how do you think I afforded that Burberry coat and your Coach wallet?” The kids are fine, he says.
“Mom? Dad? Where are you guys? Buzz?” Little Kevin wanders the house still, looking for family. He’s in the basement, where the furnace kicks on and scares him. He runs upstairs in fright. Now this part that’s coming, it’s one of my favorite parts, PERIOD. He busts outside to look in the driveway. “Their cars are still here, they didn’t go to the airport!” The LOOK on his little face after he says “airport” just does me in. SO CUTE! Boink!
Back inside, Kevin comes to the conclusion that he made his family disappear. He got his wish! He replays all the mean things they said the night before. “You’re completely helpless…you’re what the French call les incompetents…you are such a disease.” Then he twists his memory a little, with Uncle Frank’s “Look what you did, you little jerk” ten times meaner than it really was, and Buzz telling him, “Kevin, I’m going to feed you to my tarantula.” Kevin smiles and says, “I made my family disappear!”
Woohoo! Cue the party! He jumps on his parents’ bed while eating popcorn. He runs amok through the house, screaming with delight. He goes into Buzz’s room to check out all his private stuff. He looks at a Playboy real quick but tosses it aside. “No clothes on anybody. Sickening!” Then he calls out “Buzz! I’m going through all your private stuff! You better come out and pound me!” He looks at Buzz’s girlfriend’s photo and concludes that she’s a dog. “Woof!” He grabs Buzz’s BB gun and starts shooting action figures that are lined up in the laundry chute door. Wow, rich people. Must be nice to have a laundry chute.
Kevin’s eating a sloppy sundae and trying to watch the scary movie that Uncle Frank wouldn’t let him watch last night. He calls out to his disappeared family, “Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish! Better come out and stop me!” Then he gets spooked by the movie a little and turns it off.
For the record, the movie dialogue–a classic–goes like this:
Johnny: Who is it?
Snakes: It’s me, Snakes. I got the stuff.
Johnny: Leave it on the doorstep and get the hell outta here.
Snakes: All right, Johnny. But what about my money?
Johnny: What money?
Snakes: AC said you had some dough for me.
Johnny: That a fact? How much do I owe ya?
Snakes: AC said ten percent.
Johnny: Too bad AC ain’t in charge no more.
Johnny: Hey, I’ll tell you what I’m gonna give you, Snakes. I’m gonna give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, yellow, no-good kiester off my property before I pump your guts full of lead.
Snakes: All right, Johnny, I’m sorry. I’m goin’!
Johnny: One…two….ten! *gunfire* Keep the change, ya filthy animal.
Kevin screams, “MOM!” and just then, Kate wakes up in first class. She starts checking her bags, checking her wallet, everything. She just feels like she forgot something. Peter concludes that he left the garage door open, that’s it. “What else could we be forgetting?” Kate thinks about it for a minute. “KEVIN!!!!!”
Kevin, meanwhile, is setting up a sled to ride down the main stairs and out the front door. Ouch. Back on the plane, Kate is beside herself with worry. Everyone in first class is apparently awake now, and the captain of the plane has even been involved in trying to reach Kevin at home, or something. Uncle Frank is being his usual jerky self, muttering, “Terrible, just awful” in the fakest tone ever. Now Kate’s having the existential crisis. What kind of mother is she, to forget her own child?? Uncle Frank commiserates. “If it makes you feel any better, I forgot my reading glasses.” Death stare.
Oh, it’s Officer Pesci! Only he’s not a cop! Now he’s sitting in a grungy blue van on the McCallister’s street. Daniel Stern has joined him. That’s Marv. Officer Pesci’s actually Harry. Harry and Marv ran this scam on all the neighbors, to get good intel on who’s going to be out of town. Then they can go in and rob them pretty effectively. Harry has all the deets on who’s where and when. He’s even scoped out when their automatic timers turn on the lights! Harry starts listing all the good stuff they’ll find inside, like TVs, jewelry, and VCRs. Ah, I love it when movies show their age. You can’t give away a VCR these days!!
Speaking of VCRs, Kevin’s napping in the family room, watching The Grinch who Stole Christmas. He’s completely unaware that the ugly blue van just pulled into his family’s driveway. He wakes up when he hears it, though. uh oh. He sees the silhouettes of Harry and Marv creeping by, totally classic burglar style, and he quickly runs through the house to turn on all the lights. Marv and Harry are like, “oh shit, they’re still home?!” They take off. Kevin hides under his parents’ bed.
The plane finally lands in Paris, and the family tears through the airport yet again. They arrive at a payphone bank (wow, they don’t have those anymore either), where Kate rudely interrupts a French woman already on the phone. She tugs at the phone cord and everything. No wonder people think Americans are assholes. “Please! Our brother is home alone!” HA! Kate succeeds in getting the woman off the phone, and she tells the kids to take all her change and start calling people they know back home. Peter is tasked with getting them a flight back home immediately. Kate realizes the French woman’s phone companion is still on the line, and she snaps, “She’ll have to call you back” before hanging up on ‘em.
Kevin hides under the bed for a while, then realizes he’s being silly. He decides to be the man of the house, a man who’s not afraid. He runs outside to shout it to everyone, but when Old Man Marley steps in front of him, he screams and runs inside again. Back under the bed! (Actually, just under the covers.)
Oh, one of my favorite scenes. Kate reaches the police office in their town, where the officers are drinking cocoa and wrapping presents. The first woman she talks to hears her tale (“our son is home alone, the phone line is out, can you send an officer to go check on him while we head home?”) and decides it’s better for Family Crisis Intervention. No no! It’s not a family crisis intervention thing! She transfers the call. That dopey guy who played Bizarro Kramer on Seinfeld a few times picks up. He’s eating a big donut, and his name is Seargant Balzac. haha. While he questions Kate, he’s taking enormous bites of his donut. At one point, a hunk of donut falls off the donut itself and onto the mouthpiece of the phone. It sticks there for a while, and then you hear a large thud when it falls onto the paperwork on his desk. This is a Top Five moment of the movie for me. It’s like in Naked Gun when Eddie has “something on his face,” and a half a banana falls off.
“Rose, hyper on two!” Seargant Balzac transfers the call back to Rose, who can send a cop out to check on Kevin. The cop stops by, by the way, but Kevin’s still a big baby and won’t answer the door. The cop, in another display of an excellent Chicago accent, tells dispatch that the no one’s home, the house seems secure. They think maybe it’s a prank call (again). Uh oh.
Peter’s hassling the pretty French gate agent at the airport. He wants her to ask someone to NOT fly to wherever they’re going on Christmas eve, or whatever day it is. It IS close to Christmas, I know that much. There’s no way she can help. There are no empty seats, and she can’t just bump someone. If they want to stay at the airport, they MIGHT be able to find an empty seat on a flight to somewhere in the States. Nope, not good enough. Kate goes off to hassle someone else. Entitled bitch.
It’s the next day. Kevin survived one whole day on his own. Now he’s freshly showered and combing his hair. He sprays on some deodorant, which is cute and all, but he’s SEVEN. Then he pours some aftershave into his hands and claps them on his cheeeks. AAAAAAHHHHHH! THAT is the single most iconic moment of this movie, right? But I call bullshit. He didn’t shave himself, did he? If he did, why? he’s seven, he has no hair. So aftershave isn’t going to hurt–it only hurts when it gets into raw skin that was just shaved, right? Soothes it? Yeah, I call bullshit.
(Still, it’s cute.)
Kevin’s continuing to be a nuisance to the family he thinks he no longer has. He goes into Buzz’s room and climbs up the built-in shelves, which promptly collapse under him. He finds Buzz’s money, though. Which means it’s time to go shopping! Go, gurl!
Kevin walks through the yard and notices the ugly blue van in the driveway of a house nearby. “I thought the Murphys went to Florida?” Inside the Murphys’ house, Harry and Marv are playing with the kids’ toys. They’ve already ransacked the place and are taking a few more things. They’re really loud about it–or at least Marv is. “You know you’re one of the great cat burglars of the world, Marv?” Shh, the phone is ringing. Harry and Marv listen as Peter McCallister leaves a message about being out of town. Ah, so they ARE out of town. They’ll go back to hit that house tonight, then. On their way out, Marv plugs up the kitchen sink with a washcloth and runs the faucet. He wants them to have a calling card, like “all the greats.” They’re the Wet Bandits.
Oh, here’s my friend’s favorite scene, when Kevin goes shopping to buy himself a new toothbrush. (I guess Mom packed his suitcase for him after all, toothbrush safely inside it.) He asks the old lady at the front of the store if it’s ADA approved. She’s dumb, so she says she doesn’t know. It says so right on the package, numbnuts. Anyway, Kevin’s making her find out, and while he waits, Old Man Marley stops by. He slaps a bloodied/bandaged hand on the counter, which freaks Kevin the fuck out. He starts to back away, still holding the toothbrush. “Son, you have to pay for that.” Ultimately, Kevin leaves the store with it, which prompts the old lady to have Jimmy, the bag boy, chase Kevin. And Jimmy shouts out to a cop, “Shoplifter!” Now, couldn’t they tell he wasn’t trying to steal it? He was just getting confused, he’s SEVEN!
“If you could just please look on the box for me, dumbass.”
Anyway, Kevin runs through the town square, cop bobbling after him. He skids on his knees across the ice skating pond, losing the cop, then runs across a train bridge back to his neighborhood. I love that scene, for some reason. The train and the snow and the Christmas decorations. The idea of living in such a nice house so close to a nice little town center. It’s all so cozy. Hence why this movie is my favorite movie ever! (And I just realized that the town I just moved away from was very Home Alone-like. No wonder I liked living there so much! but Boyfriend lives somewhere else, and that’s where I live now. I have to make it my OWN Home Alone house!)
Kevin’s walking back to his house, all dejected about being a shoplifter and whatnot. He doesn’t notice the ugly blue van that’s inching down the driveway towards the street. Harry and Marv are arguing about the Wet Bandit thing, not paying a lick of attention, and they almost run Kevin right the fuck over. They stop just in time, and Kevin screams. Then Harry warns Kevin that he’s gotta pay attention, that “Santie Claus don’t visit the funeral home”. When he smiles, his gold toot glints in the sun, and Kevin notices. Uh oh. Meanwhile, they’re giving a kid shit for walking on a sidewalk, totally within his pedestrian rights. They were in a driveway and should have been paying attention. This went all wrong.
Kevin trudges away, and Harry’s wondering why he gave him that look. They decide to follow him home, see what house he goes into. No, that’s not creepy at all. That same scene would never fly these days, too many molestation concerns to be raised. Anyway, Kevin figures out pretty quickly that he’s being stalked, so he runs through yards and ultimately hides in the corner church’s outdoor nativity scene. Foiled, Harry and Marv!
They didn’t find out where Kevin lived, but they did stop back at the McCallister house to rob it that night. But it wasn’t dark and deserted, it was hoppin’! There’s a big fucking party going on! All the lights are on, every single one. There are obvious silhouettes of people in all the first floor windows. So wait, people are home, then? Man, these burglars are confused! I love the song that’s playing, the 50s or 60s version of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. It’s not actually a party, of course. It’s Kevin, who apparently had the time to set up all kinds of mannequins and cardboard cutouts of people to be mechanical people at a party. Realistic, totally.
Hi, Michael Jordan!
Back to Paris for a moment. Remember them? The family is in a small apartment in the heart of Paris. There’s a white tree with blue lights, which I guess is supposed to be modern and European. It’s ugly, though. The family is watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” with French translation. “Non non, non carran cas!” (<–uh, phonetic obviously) Uncle Frank is an asshole, taking the shrimp cocktail that’s meant to be an appetizer for later, passing it out now as a movie snack. Jerk. Peter’s calling home again, trying to find someone to find Kevin. The brunette sister (Megan?) and Buzz are talking about Kevin. Megan’s worried, Buzz couldn’t give two shits. “He’s so little and helpless.” Buzz isn’t at all worried about something bad happening to him. Why not? “A) I’m not that lucky; 2) we have smoke detectors, and D) we live on the most boring street in the United States of America.”
Oh, here’s my pizza boy boyfriend! He’s bringing a pizza for Kevin, and he knocked over the lawn ornament again. There’s a note on the door for him to bring it around back. He does, and Kevin’s waiting with “Angels with Dirty Souls” all cued up to the Snakes/Johnny part. He plays the appropriate parts to make it seem like a hardened gangster is purchasing the pizza, and he leaves only 20 cents for tip. Pizza boy boyfriend calls him a cheapskate, but then books it the fuck outta there when the gunfire starts. “A lovely cheese pizza, just for me.”
Oh, here’s Kate harrassing some old lady who’s also known as the grandmom in Sixteen Candles. (And all those 80s sitcoms we loved growing up, too!) She’s giving away all her cash and jewelry, if it means a seat on that plane. The woman’s husband wants no part of it…but when she begs, he relents. yay, Kate’s flying home!
Kevin’s tucked away in his parents’ bed, watching the Tonight Show. He’s starting to realize he really does need and want his family. He takes out a family portrait and smooches it. Nighty night.
The next morning, he sings Bing Crosby’s doo-woppy White Christmas while doing final shower clean-up. More face clapping and screaming. After all that’s done, he heads to the grocery store for a few things. Milk, eggs, fabric softener, OJ. There’s a weird interaction with a skeptical cashier. She wouldn’t be that skeptical this day and age, would she? I mean, she’d probably think it’s weird that a seven year old was buying his own frozen dinners and acting all adult-like, but at the same time, she’d probably be more concerned with getting back to texting her friends about the pot party they’re going to later. I just called it a pot party? I am getting old.
Oh wait, he just said he’s EIGHT. Sorry. That changes EVERYTHING.
Oh, there’s Kevin walking home with two full bags of groceries. Both break at the same time. I always wonder how the stunt department rigged that up. He manages to get everything home, and then he does some laundry. He’s messy about it, but he gets it done! When the furnace tries to scare him, he tells it to shut up.
Harry and Marv are downright obsessed with this house. They’re watching it, wondering why it’s so quiet again, when last night, it was BOMPIN’ with that party. Kevin’s doing dishes when Marv tries to open the back door. Kevin grabs the remote to play the “get the hell outta here” part of Angels with Dirty Souls. When the gunfire starts, Marv splits. He tells Harry all about it, and Harry’s confused. Marv thinks another bandit duo is in on the job, got there first. Harry doesn’t believe it, but if it’s true, he wants to see these guys, just in case they need to clear their own name when something bad goes down.
Kate’s at some airport in the US, finally. But all the flights are full. Of course! People behind her in line are getting annoyed at the rich bitch hogging all the gate agent’s time. They’re in Scranton, by the way. I didn’t know Scranton even had an airport! The gate agent calls the next person in line, but Kate tries to guilt the woman about having a ticket. It doesn’t work. But! She’s causing such a scene that the big guy in the bright yellow coat in the background can hear. Oh, it’s John Candy! Oh, John Candy. You left us way too soon.
John Candy heads over to help. He couldn’t help overhearing, he drags her away from the desk. He’s Gus Polinski, by the way, polka king of the midwest. Aww. That’s adorable. He’s with the Kenosha Kickers. Oh, that’s right. I remembered seeing their video on MTV at some point. Kate doesn’t recognize any of this, because she’s a rich uppity bitch. He starts singing different polkas at her, including the Kiss Me Polka and Polka Twist. She gets bitchy and asks him to get to the point. Okay, fine.
His point is, he and the band will be renting a van to get them from Scranton to Milwaukee and she’s welcome to join them. They can drop her off in Chicago, where she can go buy herself another Coach wallet and Burberry trench coat to console her grief. Kate is actually kind, gracious, and grateful about this offer.
Back in Chicagoland, Kevin heads outside to cut part of a pine tree down to make his own Christmas tree. That’s when Harry and Marv spot him. Oh shit, they’re putting it all together now. Why they don’t think to just leave the house alone, I don’t know. I mean, I guess they think it’s the “silver tuna” and everything, but still. The kid could just call 911 and it’d all be over, right? The phone lines seem to be back, right? Ugh.
Anyway, Kevin’s inside, decorating his tree in a very mature way for an eight year old. He sees Harry peering in through the window at him, RIGHT THERE, and instead of running to the phone to call 911, he pretends to call out to his dad for help. Harry smiles. He tells Marv of their good fortune. “Well if the kid’s here, the parents must be here.” Harry shakes his head. “He’s home alone.” I don’t know ANYONE who called a kid left behind by his narcisstic, uppity parents “home alone.” “He was neglected,” sure. Or “He was forgotten” or “left behind,” yes. Not “home alone.”
Harry and Marv take off, but before they go, they stop to discuss their exact plans and timing for the robbery right in the yard. Kevin opens an upstairs window to hear it all. “We’ll go get a bite to eat and come back around 7.” Yes, all burglars do it this way. “Mom, where are you?” Kevin whispers.
She’s in the back of a rental truck, being serenaded by a polka band playing Christmas tunes. John Candy tries really hard to make her play the clarinet, and she firmly turns him down. Some people can’t play the clarinet, JOHN CANDY.
Here’s my least favorite scene. It’s really kind of a throwaway. Basically, there’s this little Santa house in some town square somewhere. I guess that’s this movie’s version of the mall Santa. Kevin goes to talk to him, but he’s about to miss him. A pretty elf who’s doing this as side money to supplement her alcohol habit directs Kevin to Santa, who’s getting in his car. It’s a busted ass Honda Civic hatchback, and Santa’s having himself a Marlboro light as he walks to the car. Oh, and he got a parking ticket. Of course, he’s a put-upon working class Santa. No Coach wallet for him!
Kevin approaches, Santa drops the cig and puts his beard back into place. Kevin asks for help, saying he knows that guy isn’t actually Santa…but that he WORKS for Santa. The guy’s like, “yeah, sure, okay, I’ll tell Santa you want your family back.” What a weird request from a kid, though, right? Anyway, Santa gives Kevin some Tic-Tacs, putting ‘em “in his paw”. Then he gets in his car and it dies. Poor put-upon working class Santa.
Kevin’s walking home and sees other families getting their Christmas visitin’ on. He starts to really miss his own family, you can tell. He wouldn’t miss them if they were working class, put-upon folk, I bet.
On his way home, he also stops by the church. I love this part, because the music just swells and fills the scene. It’s O Holy Night, sung simply by the church choir. Beautiful. Kevin takes a seat and listens. Uh oh, Old Man Marley is there. He spies Kevin and gets up to approach him. Kevin is frozen in fear. “Merry Christmas. May I sit down?” Kevin nods. I feel so bad for Old Man Marley. He just seems so lonely. He tells Kevin that he can say hello, he doesn’t have to be afraid, the stories about him aren’t true. They chat about Christmas and presents and families. Turns out Old Man Marley is estranged from his son and is afraid to make contact. “No offense, but aren’t you a little old to be afraid?” You’re never too old to be afraid. Kevin convinces him to call his son. Aww, and then they shake hands. Cute. (Sad note, Roberts Blossom, the actor who played Old Man Marley, just died this summer. Rest in Peace, South Bend Shovel Slayer.)
The music starts to swell with some tension, Carol of the Bells style. Bong! It’s 7 o’clock, time to get home to prepare for the burglary! Ridiculous. Call the cops, and answer the door when they get there. It’s THAT easy!
But no. Kevin races home so he can start laying all his little traps. Wait a second–when he runs home, the automatic lights turn on just as he runs up to the house, and then he walks right in the unlocked door. You don’t need Harry and Marv, any old asshole could have come along and robbed the kid! Wow. At least he locks the door properly when he gets inside.
“This is my house, I have to defend it!”
So here’s his little poster-board-and-crayon blueprint of how the traps of misery are going to go down. Red hot! Glue! Fan! Feathers! Fire! Ice! Tar! Heavy cans! Xmas ornaments! Looks great!
He lays Micromachines by the front door with care. He throws buckets of water down the front steps and the outside steps down to the basement. He grabs some instrument I’ve never seen before in my life, something that’s normally stored with the charcoal grill. It’s a loop that gets really hot, and he puts it on the front doorknob, from the inside. (Seriously, 20 years later, can anyone tell me what this thing is? Is it a Midwestern thing?)
Oh, here’s the tar on the basement steps on the inside. What a mess!! How’d they have all that tar? Oh, he’s putting shingles on the steps, with nails sticking out of them, held in place with more tar.
Now he’s running a thick rope from the third floor attic window out to his tree house. I’m sure an eight-year-old is tying a strong enough knot to support body weight, also accounting for the sag of the rope when the weight of a human body is applied, right? Right??!
Oh, here’s the glue portion of the traps. He’s applying shit-tons of glue to plastic wrap and then setting up a pile of feathers in front of a fan. What’s that all about?
Now he’s placing delicate glass ornaments on the ground beneath the window near the Christmas tree, the same window where Harry was spying on him earlier.
And now he’s tying twine to paint can handles, in a very tidy way. I’m 35 and I wouldn’t be doing this so neatly. And I’m a neat freak! As he walks away, we catch a shot of the tarantula skittering nearby. Yay!
It’s 8:57 PM, and the mac and cheese is ready! Kevin got all that done in two hours? And he’s calm, cool, and collected enough to make some dinner? Seriously, if you’re that with it now, kid, call the fucking police!
Here’s the ugly blue van! Right on time! Have no other neighbors in this ‘hood noticed this van creeping about for days on end? Not everyone’s in France or Florida. They park on the street this time, deciding to check out the house first before they pull into the driveway.
Another note: I’m pretty sure the house wasn’t decorated at all for Christmas, since they knew they were going to be going to Paris for the holiday. When Kevin’s eating his mac and cheese, there’s an abundance of holiday decor tastefully placed about the dining room. Red and green ornaments sit in the champagne flutes behind him, and there’s a gorgeous centerpiece on the table. Did Kevin do that all himself, too?
Just as he’s about to take his first bite, the clock strikes nine. Well, it was 8:57 when you took that out of the microwave, dummy! If you knew you were going to be such a slave to the clock, wouldn’t you have just wolfed down the bowl like a normal kid, rather than setting up two forks, a knife, and a spoon, with a wine glass full of milk on the side? Come on!
He runs to the kitchen, grabbing his BB-gun. “This is it, don’t get scared, now.” He pumps the action on the gun and waits by the back kitchen door.
Harry and Marv approach. They knock, taunting Kevin about being home alone. How sadistic! As they’re simpering about how they’re not going to hurt the little boy, how Santie Claus has some treats for him, etc., Kevin is carefully aiming his BB gun. Right at Harry’s nuts.
*Crack*!! Perfect aim. Harry starts muttering nonsense words that’s a lot of “shoulda shoulda shoulda” and “fricka fricka”. I guess the nut-shot hurt.
Marv sticks his head in the doggie door to check out what’s going on inside. Kevin already knew he’d do that, and he’s lying in wait for him. Literally. He’s lying on the floor, aiming the BB gun right at Marv’s face. BAM, direct hit.
Harry and Marv are PISSED. Harry heads around front and Marv goes to the back door. Remember, there’s all that ice. Whoops! down they go. Harry flips up several feet into the air and lands flat on his back. Marv slips on the top of many steps down to the basement and thuds step by step to the bottom. Ouch! I cringe every time.
Marv’s trying to just stand upright in order to open the door. He hooks the crowbar on the window frame but just can’t make it. Harry’s still trying to make it up the front steps. Of course, I can’t help but wonder why Marv doesn’t just kneel and try the door from there–he’s tall. Or why Harry doesn’t just go up through the shrubs to get to the front door. But that wouldn’t make it Home Alone! I know, I know.
Marv pries and pries at the back door with the crowbar before trying the doorknob…which is unlocked. Welcome! He creeps slowly into the basement. There are some already some lights on down there, but I guess he needs to see better, so he pulls on a lightbulb string. Uh oh, that string’s actually attached to an iron that’s balanced on the edge of the laundry chute ledge. BAM, right in the face. Ouch. (If it’d come down pointy-side down, it probably would have killed him, and the later pranks wouldn’t have been necessary. I guess Kevin predicted the rules of physics for the iron.)
Harry’s going to try these icy steps for a third time. He made it!! He grabs the doorknob and–OWWWWWWW! It’s red fucking hot! He screams as the skin on his hand sizzles like a steak. There’s an “M” imprinted in it, too! McCallister, naturally! He runs down the icy stairs to cool his hand in a pile of snow. More cringing on the part of SexyPanda.
Marv’s trying the basement stairs now, which are covered in tar (and shingles with nails poking out). He steps on a nail-shingle and falls backward, straight to the basement floor. Ew and ouch!
Now Harry’s trying the back kitchen door, testing the door knob first to make sure there’s no repeat of the front door burn. Nope! He strolls right in and…gets a nice blowtorch applied to his scalp. He just stands there and screams comically for a few seconds, before running back out to the snow to extinguish the flame. HOW did an eight year old rig all this up?? I guess if he’s making ornaments out of fish hooks with glue guns, he’s got some engineering chops.
Yep, just stand there. Perfect.
Marv gives up on trying to get inside through the basement and heads back up the icy steps. Barefoot, since his shoes and socks now belong to the tarred basement steps. He MAYBE slips on the ice again a few times.
Harry’s pissed now (shot in the nuts, fallen down icy stairs, burned hand, burned head) and kicks the kitchen door open. “Where are you, you little creep?”
Marv’s back in the backyard, now looking for another way into the house. Oh, look at that open window! He crawls in, and once both feet are inside, he stands up. Right on top of all those glass ornaments. And he’s barefoot. Yeouch!!!! Marv’s just about to lose it now, too. He’s fallen down the steps a few times, been shot in the face, had an iron land on his face, stepped on a nail, and now stepped on those ornaments. He’s at his breaking point.
Harry’s screaming at Kevin as he stomps through the house. Kevin taunts him, “Oh no, I’m really scared!” to get Harry to go in this certain room. Once he opens the door, Harry’s rewarded with a faceful of glue. Then the fan kicks on and blows feathers into his face. Okay, that’s ridiculous. Why is that even a prank, other than to just make him look silly?
So now Harry and Marv are both inside. They see each other from across the foyer. “Why the hell did you take your shoes off?” “Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?!” They walk towards each other, not noticing the floor full of Micromachines, and they both flip skyward and land hard flat on their backs. It’s perfect. Kevin’s upstairs, continuing to taunt them. “You guys give up? Or are ya thirsty for more?”
Harry and Marv start heading up the stairs. That’s when Kevin throws a paint can that’s tied with twine to the railing upstairs. BAM, right in Marv’s face. Just as Harry turns around to continue upstairs, he gets hit with the second paint can. Ouch!
One of my favorite moments is right here, and I know another is coming up just moments away. “You’re missing some teeth, Harry.” “Where’s my toot? My gold toot?”
Harry staggers up the stairs to catch Kevin, threatening to “snap off his cajones and boil them in motor oil.” Hmm. Interesting. Meanwhile, Kevin is calling the cops!! YAY! That’s what I wanted him to do all along! Wait, no. He’s calling in a fake adult man voice, reporting a robbery at the NEIGHBOR’s house. Why not at HIS house? This is ridiculous!!!
Kevin’s running around upstairs just as Harry and Marv get up there. They chase after him, not seeing the string he’s got wrapped around the banister. Harry trips over it, but Marv hurdles over it and reaches for Kevin! Oh no!!!
Kevin’s almost up the attic steps, but Marv’s got him by the ankle. They struggle for a few moments, but then Kevin sees the tarantula on the attic steps. Uh oh! He grabs the spider and then carefully turns and lowers it directly onto Marv’s face. It’s totally unrealistic and it’s one of my absolute all-time favorite parts of this movie–when Marv SHRIEKS bloody murder with the spider on his face. It might be one of my favorite parts of ANY movie. It’s fucking hysterical!
(Watch the clip here!)
Marv continues to shriek like a little girl, and the spider lands on Harry’s chest. Marv grabs his crowbar and warns Harry not to move. Harry’s like, “no, don’t do it!” and Marv whacks the crowbar down, right on his solar plexus. Done and done.
Kevin, meanwhile, is fashioning some Batman device to get from the house to his treehouse, using that rope he attached earlier and bike handlebars or something? Looks like fun, actually!
Now Harry and Marv are at the attic window, wondering where the hell Kevin went. Well, look at where the rope terminates, dumbasses. Kevin calls to them from the treehouse. He’s going to call the cops! Marv wants to retreat, but Harry has a better idea. He isn’t going through that house of horrors again–he’s going to climb that rope over to the tree house. Yes, that’s a smart decision.
Harry’s hands are all busted from being burnt and whatnot, but here he goes! Marv’s scared, but he follows. Yes, great idea for two grown men to suspend themselves on a bare rope strung between a house and a treehouse. That’s a long way to fall. Luckily, Kevin’s got some pruning shears! He snips the rope, and Harry and Marv swing backwards, slamming against the side of the house. That had to hurt.
Kevin climbs down and runs across the yard to the Murphy’s house. He goes in through the basement, which is flooded with water. Oh yeah, this is one of the houses the Wet Bandits already hit. He looks surprised, but continues up the stairs to the kitchen…where Harry and Marv are waiting for him.
Harry picks Kevin up and hangs him from a coathook by his sweater. He’s just stuck there, hanging on this hook, while Harry and Marv threaten to do to him what he did to them. Uh oh.
But it’s okay! Old Man Marley is there to save the day, just as Harry’s about to bite off one of Kevin’s fingers! BAM with that snow shovel!!! Booyah!!!
And then the cops arrive, and Kevin’s already back home, watching from behind a living room window curtain. So, he’s going to have no involvement with the police? I mean, I guess it’s fine that Harry and Marv will just take the rap for the Murphy’s robbery, but doesn’t it make sense to include breaking and entering and assault charges for what happened at the McCallister house, too? Why is Kevin so resistant to letting the authorities do their job?
Harry and Marv are hauled away, and we hear Marv remind the cops that they’re The Wet Bandits. The cops are like, “Cool, now we know each and every house you hit!” Harry gives Marv the stink-eye. Wow, that’s an old cop car. Like, even for 1990. Kevin waves to Harry from his window.
So that must’ve taken about an hour, right? From the first BB gun shot to the mess at the Murphy’s, at least an hour. And then add some time for post-mortems with Old Man Murphy. Apparently, he’s got the entire house cleaned up already. I mean, he’s in his robe, putting out milk and cookies for Santa and everything. The house seems fine! Merry Christmas Eve! What the fuck!
Kate’s in the van with John Candy, having a pity party for herself about being a bad parent. John Candy sells out all the guys in his polka band for being bad parents, all in the name of making some self-absorbed rich bitch feel better. He tells of leaving his own kid in a funeral parlor all day once. Kate’s bitchy about this story and shuts him up.
It’s a snowy Christmas morning, perfectly cozy if you’ve got a family to spend it with! But not for Kevin, he’s home alone. He still wakes up hopeful. I guess he asked Santa to get his family back? Oh yeah, when he talked to the stupid Honda Civic driving Santa, that’s right.
Well, he runs all around the house and no one’s there. So Santa doesn’t love you, kid. He even peeks outside to see if anyone’s there, and no one is. But just as he’s heading back inside, the polka van pulls up to drop off Kate! She comes inside, calling for him. He’s upstairs, gazing at the family portrait. Perk up! he runs downstairs. Mom, meanwhile, is checking out all the decorating Kevin did while he was stuck home, forgotten.
When Kevin gets downstairs, he walks slowly and looks all surly at first. Mom’s all smiley and “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.” And still he stares, sullen. She apologizes, and then he breaks into a big smile and runs to hug her. Awwww. “Where’s everyone else?”
Just as Mom explains that they couldn’t come, the front door opens and a very bickery McCallister family spills in. They’re all home! How’d that happen?! DILF explains that they took the flight that Mom didn’t want to wait for. Derrrr. Buzz thinks it’s pretty cool that Kevin didn’t burn the joint down.
Mom says something about needing to go to the store, they don’t even have milk. Kevin tells Mom to relax–he went shopping yesterday. “What?” “I got the milk, eggs, and fabric softener.” This next part, I never quite understand. DILF says, “No kidding. What a funny guy!” What’s funny about him buying shit he needs when you left him home along, asshole? “No kidding. What a funny guy.” Makes no sense to me. (But as such is one of my favorite parts of this movie.)
DILF wants to know what else Kevin did while he was home alone. “Just…hung around.” So you aren’t going to tell your parents that two robbers were in the house trying to hurt you and steal everything? That they also robbed the Murphys and probably other friends on their street? Nah.
DILF finds Harry’s gold toot in the family room, wondering what it is and holding it up to his own mouth in mock fangery. Kevin peeks out the window at Old Man Marley’s house, where Old Man Marley’s estranged son and family have come to visit. Awwww. Marley hugs his granddaughter and welcomes his son into his home. Tears!
“Kevin!! What did you do to my room!!!!”
(I’m an East coast girl, where room is pronounced the same as “zoom” and “boom” and “broom”. In this movie, and in some other households across the land, “room” is sometimes pronounced more like “rum”. This is how Buzz pronounces it. “Kevin! What did you do to my rum!!??!”)
And that’s that! See you in NYC, baby!
I LOVE THIS MOVIE!! And MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!! (And Happy Hanukkah!!)