Right then. I’m on record as being one of the few people on this God-forsaken planet that doesn’t go hoop-la over the movie Home Alone (1990), and instead, takes issue with it. Here’s a number of reasons why.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Home Alone is, without a doubt, a Christmas classic. It’s a movie that Christmas does not feel quite right without, particularly for the generation I am a part of, in much the same way as I’m sure there are those of older generations that would consider Christmas to be very different without The Great Escape or It’s A Wonderful Life.
But it’s over-rated.
What reasoning do I have for this, you ask?
Well, beyond going into the annual “it’s too religious” rant I often get dragged into at work…
- It all starts going right for him when he goes to church and talks to Mr Shovel / Jesus,
- Mr Shovel is a Jesus metaphor, or if you take some particular scenes as gospel, the Holy Trinity as a whole,
- He hid in a nativity scene.
Now, for those of you that read those points, it’s probably the second point that is the most relevant. I can get over the religion though. I can also get over the fact that the whole defence that Kevin creates hinges entirely on the incompetence of the Wet Bandits…
- The baubles just inside the window are only a problem because Marv has already lost his shoes.
- There’s no explanation as to why they are willing to bust open a door with a crowbar, but won’t just smash a window of their choosing, in order to enter the home.
- The nail in the stairs from the basement, just so happened to be positioned in such a way that Marv would place his foot on it, when we KNOW only one nail was put into the stair, and there’s a good chance it would have been missed.
- The placement of the iron, which Marv watches fall towards him rather than just stepping aside,
- The placement of the blowtorch, suited to Harry, but only if he decides to poke his head around the door instead of actually entering the building.
For me, the clincher is the fact that at the real victim of the film is Kevin’s mother.
Kevin’s mum beats herself up for the whole movie because Kevin was left home alone. Now, let’s analyse the circumstances that brought it all about.
- Kevin overreacts to his pizza being eaten by his family, particularly because of Buzz’s actions, so she punishes Kevin. It’s perhaps an over-reactive punishment, but a punishment nonetheless.
- She makes the compromise that Fuller, the kid that wets the bed, will not share the bed with Kevin, as per his request to not share a bed with Fuller. That’s not a mean-spirited thing to do, it’s calm, sensible compromise and, in my eyes, good parenting.
- She entrusts one of her older children with the task of ensuring the children are all ready, and this older child failed her.
Then there’s the events following their actual departure.
- She’s the first person to actually realise Kevin is missing.
- She rushes to get in contact with the police in order to determine Kevin’s state, whilst the police essentially write her off as being crazy.
- She makes a point of staying in the airport in order to get home as early as possible, even negotiating with an older couple with everything she has with her, just so she can get onto a plane that takes her sort-of home.
- She endures a ride in the back of a van with the polka band, one of whom tells her stories that are only going to make a woman like her feel much worse about the situation,
- After all the effort she has gone through, she still only ends up getting home about a minute before the rest of the family, who had some chance of an enjoyable time in France.
She goes through hell and back, all for the purpose of getting home to her child, a child she cares so deeply for that she made an extra effort to get home to see. She didn’t compromise, she didn’t back down, she kept fighting for the goal at hand.
Now, why does that make this film a parental horror?
Well, I’m a parent, and I can honestly say that the scariest moment I’ve experience as a father is thus. Once, not too many months ago, our son was inexplicably missing from the house. We searched everywhere we could reasonably expect, both upstairs, downstairs, even outside, just in case. We could not think of anywhere else he could be, and we were calling his name, in the desperate hope that he would reveal himself. In the end, he did, by crawling out from under our bed and being annoyed at us for shouting his name.
Those few minutes – because they were only a few minutes – have been the most fearful, most gut-wrenching moments of my time as a parent so far, and I know with absolute certainty that the same is true for my partner. Not knowing the whereabouts and condition of your own child at a time in their life when they are so reliant on you is a horrible experience, and I hope that you never have to experience it.