Over Christmas I watched “Home Alone” with my younger son. I must admit I’ve always wondered why this gets categorised as a Christmas Film, as the only thing Christmassy about it was the fact it’s set at Christmas (a bit like Die Hard), and has some nod to being apart from those you love. Home Alone (I would have said), was a film about at 8 year year old setting traps for hapless burglars (such as bowling balls dropping on their head) for 2 hours.
It turns out the film is not about that at all.
Not even remotely.
The whole “bowling ball on the head” thing (which doesn’t happen either, incidentally – it’s an iron) is about 20 minutes at the end of the film.
Instead it is a film about reconciliation and relationships. There’s an extended section on Kevin learning to live on his own, and making the transition from happy ice-cream eating slob finally free of the tyranny of his family, to scared and lonely child, to master of the house, doing the washing, shopping, cooking, and putting up the Christmas tree, to finally realising he misses his family and wants them back.
There’s a lot about Kevin’s Mum trying to find any means back to him – hours and hours solid on the road (including being stuck in the back of a mover’s van for 11 hours with John Candy and his polka orchestra – classic!)
There’s a whole running thread about the “psychopath mass murderer” neighbour, who of course turns out to be a sweet but lonely old man estranged from his son, and Kevin’s wisdom is enough to bring reconciliation and healing there.
Then – yes – right towards the end of the film, the moronic burglars break in, and fall foul of icy steps, tarred staircases, Christmas bauble shrapnel, glue and feathers, blow torches, irons, spiders, falling from a rope, nails through the feet – before finally capturing Kevin, only to be rescued at the last by the aforementioned non-psycho neighbour.
In the end, Kevin’s Mum gets home, after 48 hours solid travel (or something), then the rest of the family turn up 5 minutes later having waited and got the next direct flight home. Peace is made, apologies offered and accepted. Although I did note that only Kevin and his Mum seem to have been truly changed by the experience.
What is extraordinary to me is that I would have sworn in court that the film was 90% about Kevin being at home on his own trying to thwart (and damage) burglars, and that first maybe 5 or 10 minutes of the film was set up. To be fair it’s probably 30 years since I last saw it – plus I think the sequels where much more heavily stacked to the pratfalls and traps.
So I stand corrected. Home Alone is absolutely a Christmas film – about the importance of relationships and reconciliation, how we are ultimately unable to save ourselves, and that our saviour may be someone quite unexpected. That and shooting intruders with a spud gun.