Christmas films to watch: Home Alone (1990)

Kevin McCallister is left on his own to fight off two determined burglars in this 1990 Christmas holiday classic.
Kevin McCallister is left on his own to fight off two determined burglars in this 1990 Christmas holiday classic.

Another day, another Christmas movie on this year’s watch list and following on from Friday’s review of Love Actually, we go a little further back in time (yes OK I know, 24 years back in time!) to 1990 and the original Home Alone. Widely regarded as a Christmas classic by many today, the movie is essentially summed up by the title. The film centres on the McCallister family who are off on a Christmas holiday to Paris – who¬†following a series of disasters they make it to Paris only to realise their eight year old son Kevin (played by Macaulay Culkin) has been left ‘Home Alone’. To make things worse, the house is also being eyed up by burglars ‘The Wet Bandits’ – Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) leaving Kevin to cope with being alone, and also to defend his house against the invaders. What happens next is just Christmas comedy gold!

I’m going to be honest here, I was 7 when this film first hit the cinemas. I remember being taken to watch it, and finding it hysterically funny (and slightly scary in the right places – who remembers the weird heater thing downstairs!) and really cool. Let’s be honest here, what 7 or 8 year old boy wouldn’t want to overdose on sugar whilst jumping around on a bed – or watch the films they’d been told to stay clear of because of their content. This is a film that truly knows its audience.

Of course the main thrust of the action is defending the house against the burglars. It is cartoon-esque slapstick at its very best. Having first tried to persuade the burglars that the family didn’t go on holiday after all, with a fantastic sequence involving a blow-up clown doll, and Brenda Lee’s ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ they inevitably realise that Kevin is indeed ‘Home Alone’ and try to burgle the house – what follows is a house truly full of surprises with my favourites being the paint-cans and baubles. I know it’s wrong to laugh at the amount of pain Harry and Marv go through – totally unrealistic – but this is truly something everyone can enjoy.

Christmas is not lost on this film either, it is more than just a backdrop. Whilst Kevin leads Harry and Marv through a house full of traps, his Mother – Kate (Catherine O’Hara) is desperately trying to make her way back from Paris, eventually finding herself in a van full of musicians led by Gus (played by the much missed John Candy).¬†Kevin also confronts his fears in part by making friends with next-door neighbour Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom) and convincing him to call his estranged family. The scene sets itself nicely for a Christmas Day reunion – on all fronts, giving the good triumphs over evil and the Christmas togetherness vibes in the cutest way possible. Well, that is unless you’re Buzz and had your room trashed – but that’s another story…

The film benefits from a suitable seasonal soundtrack – ‘Somewhere in my memory’ providing a glittering title track, ably accompanied by such Christmas classics as ‘O Holy Night’. This is truly the ideal film for Christmas. Fun for all the family, with just a little bit of edge there is something everyone can enjoy. From music to laughs to a not too serious plot, this offering sets of a chain of sequels – Home Alone 2 potentially being the best of these… but then that’s a review for another day.

Home Alone is available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray. For those of you lucky to have a Sky Movies subscription, Home Alone will be on at various times across the Christmas holidays on Sky Movies Christmas and Sky Movies Family.