Home Alone

 
(i)

 

Slapstick comedy is funny but full of iffy stuff.
  • Review Date: December 13, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1990
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

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. Overwhelmed adults and bratty kids are painted in a harsh light -- the name-calling and arguing is nonstop, and a young boy has no problem talking back to his mother. 

Violence

Frequent slapstick violence, especially toward the end. Characters fall down stairs, get hit with blunt objects, step on nails and glass, get burned. The lead character shoots one of the thieves trying to break into his house in the groin area with a bb gun. A young boy watches a mafia-themed movie from the 1940s in which a character kills another character with a machine gun while laughing maniacally. 

Sex

Kevin finds an old Playboy magazine but isn't very interested in it. Adults make reference to "nude beaches." 

Language

Siblings pick on their little brother, calling him a "disease" and "puke." An uncle of this boy calls him a "little jerk." Words like "crap" and "horse's ass" are used, as well as "bitch," "damn," "hell," and "s--t."

Consumerism

Pepsi. American Airlines. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Very brief shots of minor characters (adults) drinking and smoking. Champagne drinking on a plane. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Home Alone is a hit 1990 John Hughes-directed comedy in which Macaulay Culkin plays a young boy left to fend for himself when his parents, overwhelmed by having to keep track of 11 other kids, mistakenly leave him behind when they fly to Paris. What might be shocking to parents who haven't seen this movie since it first came out is the level of disrespect between kids and adults, and the amount of sibling name-calling early in the movie. While adults speak of "nude beaches," young Kevin is called a "disease" and "puke" by his older siblings, and is even called a "little jerk" by his Uncle. On his end, Kevin has absolutely no problem in talking back to his mother. The parents themselves don't exactly emerge as positive role models, but then again, if they had been more mindful, the entire premise of the movie would be shot.  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 gangster movie that his parents forbid him from seeing. Kevin also finds an issue of Playboy in a secret stash in his older brother's room, but doesn't express much interest in it. Profanity includes "ass," "bitch," "damn," "hell," and "s--t."

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
 

Home Alone is a good-natured, albeit unrealistic, family film that both kids and adults will enjoy if they are okay with the violence, profanity, and disrespectful behavior within the family. 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.

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.

 

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

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Kid, 7 years old April 26, 2011
 

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
 

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
 

a funny cristmas classic

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

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