Dir: Chris Columbus (Adventures in Babysitting; Mrs. Doubtfire; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Rent)
One of the highest grossing film of all time that I had yet to see, Home Alone is a return to my eradication of irrational prejudices. I of course knew the iconic images such as paint cans on strings and open mouthed-cheek holding screams. I did not expect much from this movie beyond contextualizing those fragments of knowledge. But the film was a pleasant surprise, and a very solid contribution to the family movie genre.
The gyrations of the story to make it plausible that a boy would be left Home Alone are good enough to allow me to suspend my disbelief. And a big reason why I liked the film was the wonderful performance from Catherine O'Hara as the capable but frazzled woman whose motherly instincts lead her on a frantic trip home to resuce her child. All of the child actors save Culkin are pretty awful, but they are simply stock characters to set up plot points later on. I was pleased with how little to story line of the buglars dominated the film. Touches like the mysterious old man next door, the extended first act about getting this large family to the aiport in the first place, and the challenges for Culkin in just being alone move the film beyond sillyness and make the story interesting. Culkin himself desreved his reputation after the film, taking direction well to combine both adult dialogue and critical thinking with some very innocent moments of 8 year old wonder and fear.
When the cartoonishness of the the third act comes in, it is focused enough to be funny without being obtrusive. Pesci and Stern are really just icing on the cake, comic relief that presents a challenge for Culkin to overcome rather than the story itself. The violence is clever, and suprisingly real for a children's movie, and well directed.
But Home Alone is really a sweet family movie, where once again everyone discovers the true meaning of Christmas. So many children's movies are just live-action cartoons, with the same sort of characters development that energizes the admonishment "cartoon-ish." But this film uses fun to accent a pretty decent story. I would watch it again some Christmas Eve, sure.
Irrational prejduce? Melted away with warm love.