That’s right; it’s been nearly 20 years since Home Alone was released. Today, we’re going to take a look back at one of Macaulay Culkin‘s best-known roles.
Originally released in North America on November 16, 1990, I distinctly remember seeing Home Alone for the first time at the White Flint movie theater with my grandmother. Written and produced by the legendary John Hughes, with a soundtrack by the legendary John Williams, and directed by the legendary Chris Columbus, Home Alone was created by film titans. The film’s main cast matched the talent behind the cameras, including (but not limited to): Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, and Roberts Blossom. A number of at-the-time unknown actors filled out the rest of the McCallister family, but none became as big as Macaulay Culkin. Home Alone thrust him into international stardom; Culkin led an extremely successful life as a child actor, and even came back to acting again after disappearing from the public eye due to problems in his personal life. It didn’t take long for Home Alone madness to grip the country…nay, the globe. The film pulled in a massive amount of money at the box office, and many people (myself included) saw it multiple times before it left cinemas.
We all know the history, but how does this film hold up almost 20 years after its release? All nostalgia aside, it’s still entertaining. Factor in nostalgia though, and it goes from entertaining to awesome. The scene with the crazy heater in the basement still freaks me out, I still cringe at the antics towards the end of the film with Pesci and Stern getting the crap beat out of them, I still love watching Kevin McCallistar go flying down the stairs on a toboggan, and I still want to beat the hell out of him for ruining the awesome shelves in his older brother’s room. Like many movies that John Hughes and Chris Columbus had a part in creating, the details are where this movie really shines; the subtle “pop” of ornaments as the burglars step on them, the way the movie feels like it is presented through Kevin’s point of view, even when he isn’t involved in a scene…the whole thing is just great.
Home Alone was an excellent film from a technical standpoint, which, considering who was in charge, isn’t surprising. Stop laughing! It really was! Think about it…a large portion of the film involved interior shots, and yet the camera never felt “pulled back and zoomed in” as it often is on interior sets…most of the interior camera angles were presented from the point of view of an observer in the same room. Scenes that took place in the house made you truly feel like you were a part of that household…you weren’t just watching, you were there with the family. There were a bunch of other very simple but creative shots, like the iron flying down the laundry chute, or how perfectly framed Joe Pesci was when he tried to open the door and got a blowtorch blasted on his head. Nothing was complicated in this film from a camera angle standpoint, but framing was perfect and everything seemed to mesh seamlessly with the flow of the movie. I know it seems odd to bring up Home Alone and then talk about cinematography, but go back and watch it; you’ll be surprised at how effective most of the shots are.
Home Alone was released in that weird period where people knew they were outgrowing the 80′s, but weren’t quite sure what the 90′s would bring. The clothing and hairstyles portray this odd transitional period perfectly, and brought back nostalgia for me beyond just the movie (slap bracelets, anyone?) This is still an entertaining film to pull out if you haven’t seen it in a while, but if you were young when it was released, you owe it to yourself and your memories to watch it again.