Home Alone

 
Slapstick family holiday comedy brings the pain.
  • Review Date: December 13, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1990
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

None, unless you count giving kids ideas about how to set booby traps...

Positive messages

The film suggests that a child who's left alone can fend for him or herself without adult supervision. It also celebrates violence as a means of solving problems.

Positive role models

Although Kevin is brave and resourceful, he's also pretty vicious in his attacks on the bad guys. The fact that his parents leave him behind doesn't speak highly of their status as role models, and the two would-be burglars are clearly iffy examples.

Violence & scariness

Tons of slapstick violence. Characters fall down stairs, get hit with blunt objects, step on nails and glass, get burned, etc.

Sexy stuff

Kevin finds an old Playboy magazine but isn't very interested in it.

Language

A few uses of words like "damn," "hell," and "ass," plus one use of "s--t."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Very brief shots of minor characters (adults) drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know there's a tremendous amount of slapstick violence in this movie, some of which results in very painful-looking injuries. The main character inflicts serious pain on two would-be burglars -- he trips them down a flight of stairs, burns them, hits them with heavy objects, places sharp objects on the ground for them to step on, and so on. Kevin is also shown watching a violent '30s gangster flick that his parents forbid him from seeing.

What's the story?

HOME ALONE is the story of 8-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), a mischievous middle child who feels largely ignored by his large extended family. While preparing for a Christmas vacation in Paris, Kevin gets in trouble, is banished to the attic overnight, and wishes his family would just disappear. Kevin gets his wish the next morning when his family mistakenly leaves him behind. At first, Kevin is elated -- but pretty soon he realizes that being home alone isn't all it's cracked up to be. He misses his mom (who employs any and every means of getting home to her son) and even his bully brother. With all the block's other families on vacation, too, Kevin has no one to turn to, including the cops, who assume he's up to his usual tricks. Meanwhile, a pair of bumbling burglars played by Joe Pesci (Goodfellas, Lethal Weapon 2-4) and Daniel Stern takes advantage of the situation by pillaging the neighborhood. It's up to Kevin to defend his home, using every prank in his well-stocked arsenal. A bevy of violent, slapstick, wince-inducing episodes ensue, resulting in Kevin successfully foiling the bad guys' plans.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This movie's runaway success is due largely to its players, most notably Culkin. Previously cast in supporting roles in movies like Rocket Gibraltar and Uncle Buck, Culkin is the Home Alone's main attraction. Saddled with the difficult task of appearing in nearly every scene, he maintains a level of consistency that's a testament to both his talent and that of director Chris Columbus's (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Mrs. Doubtfire). Catherine O'Hara (Best in Show, SCTV) does a fine (albeit a tad shrill) job as Kevin's overwrought, guilt-ridden mom, and Pesci and Stern have great chemistry and handle the physical comedy with aplomb. Another performance of note is John Candy's cameo as Polka Band Shuttle Chief Gus Polanski. Although his role is brief, he nearly steals the show.

Home Alone is a good-natured, albeit unrealistic, family film that both kids and adults will enjoy. Its endearing story and a charming performance by Culkin make it a standout among the usual holiday movie fare. Without resorting to all-too-adult double entendres that dominate current family films, this one focuses more on slapstick humor and innocence to convey its story. That said, that reliance on slapstick humor does means that it's chock full of semi-realistic violence. It's not for the weak-stomached and definitely requires some major suspension of disbelief.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether or not they think slapstick violence is funny. Is it ever appropriate to laugh when someone gets hurt?

  • With younger kids, parents may also want to discuss the steps they should take in the event they ever do get left alone, especially if they sense they're in danger.

  • In the film, Kevin decides to take on the burglars himself and wins. Instead of attempting to foil them on his own, how could he have sought help?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 10, 1990
DVD release date:October 5, 1999
Cast:Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci, Macaulay Culkin
Director:Chris Columbus
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Holidays, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Home Alone was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Written byAnonymous July 5, 2010
age 8+
 

On par with Christmas Story for the best Christmas movie...

By FAR the best Christmas movie, an instant family tradition...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great role models
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 7 years old April 26, 2011
age 9+
 

A good movie with some innapropriate language

This is my favorite movie it's so funny Violence: The booby traps are violent. Language: Ass hell and one use of s--t
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written byJamie and James March 14, 2010
age 5+
 

A little off, but everything you could want in a movie.

Me and James have seen it once. That's it. It was funny, but maybe a bit inappropriatte for a 7-year-old. Still, a great movie, I recommend it!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written by4Spice October 24, 2009
age 6+
 

a funny cristmas classic

one of the best funny christmas movie ever made very funny anyone can watch its very funny

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass