My Problem with “Home Alone”

I dread the day when we hit a collective era when there’ s no longer any movie we ALL saw. Fortunately, most everybody reading this was either eager to drag their parents to see “Home Alone” when it first came out, or is one of those parents who was forced to bring their kid to see “Home Alone” when it first came out, or was, statistically, a stoner who got high and went to go see matinee showings of “Home Alone” in the waning weeks of its monolithic box office run because the internet (and by proxy, cat videos) didn’t exist yet (at least not in the share-able sense… you needed to send away for VHSes of cats prancing around and getting caught in boxes. I’m sure they existed, but because the very notion of going through all of that effort to watch goddamn cats…).

So, “Home Alone” may be the last movie that you can bring up in a room of 200 people with the reasonable expectation that everybody in there has seen it (outside of “Little Mermaid” or some Spielburg bullshit like “Saving Private Ryan”). In case anybody here hasn’t seen it (proving my previous points wrong), it’s the marginally relatable story of a 10-year-old white kid named Kevin whose rich family accidentally leaves him alone in their giant house around the corner from Notre Dame University for the holidays. For some reason, a pair of old-timey crooks case the house, and he decides to pull some vigilante brutal violence on the crooks as they invade his house. Also, his older brother Buzz had a hideous girlfriend and somehow, they were related to Big Pete. Anyway, Macaulay Culkin was a horrible actor, but the movie made him a household name and he became like this (crossing fingers-gesture) with Michael Jackson.

(By the way, if you want to see a Culkin give a goddamn knockout performance in a goddamn fantastic movie, see the little one, Rory, star as Laura Linney’s kid in “You Can Count on Me.” A truly great opposite-of-the-opposite coming-of-age tale that would be nearly perfect if Kenneth Lonergan didn’t Tarantino himself into a pointless scene where he plays a minister giving God-talk to Mark Ruffalo. But still, I can’t recommend that movie enough).

Anyway, I like “Home Alone” as much as anyone in our (you know what I’m referring to) age group does, but a couple of years ago, upon my 392nd TNT/TBS/whatever network viewing of it, I realized what truly doesn’t sit right about the film. I’m not talking about Christopher Columbus’ surreally dumb filmmaking style more suited for the first two Harry Potter movies (even though they didn’t get good until weirder directors took over). What I’m talking about is that the storyline with Kevin getting left to fend for himself and outsmarting a pair of burglars isn’t the most interesting storyline in that movie. In fact, it isn’t even in the top 5 more interesting storylines of this movie. I’m not so fond of countdowns, but because this is the internet and idiots LOVE them, here’s a list of plot lines in “Home Alone” that are more interesting than the Kevin McCallister story:

  1. John Candy’s Unsuccessful Polka Band – Gus Polinsky (you couldn’t use a name like that tantamount to any ethnicity but a Polish guy from the Midwest) seems like he got laid a few times back in the 70s and just is not. letting. it. go. To his credit, he has a whole crew of guys willing to play a very regional non-indigenous music form that had already run its course within middle-American culture by the late-80s. Those guys must really have a deep-rooted respect for Gus in order to all be in Pennsylvania right before Christmas and piling into a Uhaul truck to drive back to Chicago.  It’s gratifying to see a polka band whose top-selling album sold 900 copies attacking the road in the exact style of a Rollins-era Black Flag, but I feel like the history of Gus’ band warrants an elaborate back story, especially if someone in his band is so sad as to forget his kids’ names. What the hell is that about?

  2. Why the hell are Harry and Marv working together? I know they’re basically human cartoons, but this one of those rare instances when a prequel might be extremely helpful. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are decent actors and all, but we’re always going to look at Pesci and think of Martin Scorsese (or just overuse of the word “fuck”) and hear Daniel Stern’s voice and picture Kevin Arnold trying to hide a Winnie-induced boner (or Stern himself just riding a bicycle really really fast. Or getting “Bushwhacked,” which I never saw). These are both archetype characters, but that doesn’t explain why a goofy Jewish guy in his early 30s was robbing houses in Indiana with an aging mafia kingpin. I’m going to assume that Marv started doing odd jobs for Harry in Chicago and they decided to spread out into the suburbs once they stole a plumbing van. This could easily be a sitcom, or hour-long drama series with a comedic twist that involves Stern unleashing a blood-curdling scream upon a massive insect/arachnid landing on his face in every episode.

  3. Old Man Marley, played by Roberts Blossom (he was so cool he was the embodiment of TWO Roberts), is the most enticing character in this movie, easily. What the hell did he fight with his son over so voraciously that they didn’t talk for years? Blossom was so great that he made us FEAR him for the first half of the movie, then made us FEEL for him when he tells Kevin that the only time he gets to see his ginger granddaughter is when she sings in the church choir. So heart-wrenching. Either way, from the moment you first see him shoveling salt onto the walk outside the McCallister mansion, you can just TELL he’s seen some shit in his time. “Old Man Marley’s WWII Stories!” coming this fall to ABC.

  4. The Pizza Delivery Kid Who Can’t Drive on Ice – I can only imagine the amount of vehicular havoc he wreaks on South Bend with his chainless delivery car tires. I would really like to see a real-time, “24” / “Run Lola Run” style sitcom that follows this hapless teenager on that fateful night that Little Nero’s decides to institute a “30 Minutes or Less” rule to compete with the new Dominos franchise that opened a mile down the street, across from the pharmacy that is already struggling to survive without little douchebags stealing toothbrushes.

  5. That fat, 23 year old Santa that Kevin visits – you can hear the exasperation in his voice when he finds a parking ticket from the city of South Bend. He clearly doesn’t give a shit about his job, but he does care enough to put on airs for Kevin when he comes to ask for his family back. A loser with a heart of gold, could easily have gone on to become the next John Hodgman.

Okay, those last two are reaching, but I stand behind my original statement. Regardless, you should be impressed that I haven’t watched “Home Alone” in a long time and wrote this whole spiel squarely from memory. Now give me a gold star and go back to reposting some HuffPo article about something that’s going to turn out to be a massive hoax in two days.


One thought on “My Problem with “Home Alone”

  1. Pingback: 3 Years Ago: The Knox Comedy Roast of Ebeneezer Scrooge | sonic comedy

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