HOME ALONE Blu-ray Review

     December 21, 2008

Written by Ben Begley

In 1990 a little holiday film produced and written by John Hughes (every awesome movie in the 80’s) and directed by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter fame) was released and quickly grossed a whole boatload of money and would skyrocket Macaulay Culkin into childhood superstardom. “Home Alone” became a runaway holiday hit amongst parents and kids both in the U.S. and internationally, I remember watching this movie at least 20 times as an 8 year old kid and then every year after as a holiday movie tradition. For me this is one of the top ten best holiday movies of all time! Just so you know right off the bat where I stand on this film.

Almost everyone on the planet has seen this movie I would assume, but just in case here’s a brief synopsis. The plot is about the McCallister family leaving for Paris on their Christmas vacation. In all the hustle and bustle they forget one very important thing, their 8-year-old son Kevin. So while Mrs. McCallister is freaking out trying to figure out how to get back home to her son (while everyone else just hangs out in Paris in a hotel room by the way), Kevin has the time of his life. With no parents to yell at him or older brothers to tease him, Kevin has free reign to all the junk food and gangster movies he could ever ask for. He gets along pretty well for such a little dude. Kevin grocery shops and even uses a coupon for the Orange Juice, I’m an adult and I’m not responsible enough to remember coupons, even in the middle of an economic crisis. He scams the pizza boy out of a tip by making him think he’s an old gangster shooting at him (cranking the volume up on a noir movie called “Angels with Dirty Souls”) and generally has a blast being alone. Then things take a turn for the more sinister (and slapstick) when a couple of bungling burglars that have been scoping out the neighborhood try to invade Kevin’s turf. They picked the wrong little kid to mess with and plenty of slapstick and pummeling of these two crooks ensue as they relentlessly go after Kevin who is always several steps ahead of them in his elaborate booby-trapped house. The final robbery sequence in this film is so non-stop funny and full of slapstick stunts and creative traps that no one who has seen it can ever forget the imagination and inventive energy this film has to it.

I was the same age as Mr. Culkin when this movie came out and it made me feel like I could take on any silly burglars that came into my house. I absolutely loved this movie and, like I said before, watched it over and over again. So there was a little bit of fear when I got the Blu-ray in the mail and sat down to watch it for the first time in over ten years, because I hate when I watch movies that I loved as a kid and they turn out to be garbage in hindsight. Let’s face it, some things from the 80’s don’t age well and I know what you’re thinking, that “Home Alone” came out in 1990, but let’s be honest it took a good half decade to shake off the awesome fashion debacles of the 80’s so I consider this film part of the remnants of that era. Anyway a pointless tangent aside, this movie actually lives up to everything I remember and is still just as fun to watch now as an adult.

Although watching it now makes me question a few things… tweak a few details and this could be a social commentary about wealthy parental neglect and the struggle between the poor and rich classes in our society. Kevin’s parents forget their youngest son at home when they fly to Paris, not Maine or Ohio, but Paris!! Don’t even get me started on Home Alone 2, how do you lose your kid twice? They should be nominated and winners of the “Worst Parents of the Decade Award.” And maybe in an alternate film these cat burglars worked for Mr. McCallister’s company and got layed off this year due to “budget cut-backs” that really were just ways to get enough company money so the greedy Mr. McCallister could give himself a Christmas bonus and fly first class to Paris, because even in 1990 flying first class internationally wasn’t cheap. So I propose that maybe the burglars are the good guys, like modern day Robin Hoods and Kevin is the bad guy, turned into a sadistic little monster by years of neglect. What normal kid thinks to torch someone’s head, pummel them in the face with paint cans and irons, stab them with nails and broken glass; the list of horrors goes on and on. This is one deranged kid. So like I said, if Darren Aronofsky had directed this we would have a very intense social commentary, but instead we have a holiday slapstick classic.

In all seriousness though, this movie will make you laugh and give you just the right amount of nostalgia from when you first saw it and may even bring a tear to some of the more sentimental eye when the old man and his son are reunited at the end. This movie has a great sense of humor mixing slapstick and clever jokes, with a dash of heartwarming moments that never verge on “cheeseville.” This is one of my favorite holiday movies of all time and owning it on Blu-ray doesn’t hurt, because I’m convinced that everything looks better in HD, even family classics like this. So do yourself and your family a favor and swing by the store and pick up this awesome family flick before the season passes you by, a really great movie for the generations young and old.

Special Features:

Feature Commentary with Director Chris Columbus and Macaulay Culkin – if you want to delve more into the minds of this holiday cheer-fest here’s your ticket


-1990 Press Featurette- the press kit EPK package when the film came out, about three minutes and chock full of fun interviews and behind the scenes footage

-The Making of Home Alone- a 20-minute feature looking back at Home Alone with the filmmakers, including interviews with John Williams, who is awesome!! The cast and director, the DP and producers all have something to say, a really great little retrospective

-Mac Cam- Behind the scenes on set with Macaulay Culkin as your guide, cute little mini-doc and also has Macaulay now looking back and talking about the day they let him run around with a camera and how big that was for an 8 year old kid.

-How to Burglar-Proof Your Home- 7 minutes on the stunts of Home Alone and how much pain was involved. Those were real cement steps and walls, so no matter how much padding they had it had to still hurt they crazy. The micromachines stunt was real and had to hurt.

-Home Alone Around the World- a hilarious 4-minute featurette showing Home Alone dubbed in every language from German to Mandarin to French to Thai.

-Where’s the Buzz Now? – The filmmakers and cast give their ideas as to where the character of Buzz is now as an adult, since as a kid he was such a monster, general consensus is the military… funny little feature, nothing earth-shaking

-Angels With Filthy Souls- the filmmakers talk about how fun it was to shoot a mock-noir film and let the entire scene play out uninterrupted

-Deleted/Alternate takes- 15 minutes of mainly extended scenes with a few more moments of Kevin shopping and some other extraneous scenes, but I definitely appreciate the effort here

-Blooper Reel- I have said it before and I will say it again, I LOVE BLOOPER REELS!! Nothing makes me happier than seeing actors mess up and this one made me laugh for sure.

The picture quality is amazing in 1080p resolution, so you can finally see Home Alone as close to the theatrical release as humanly possible. As far as I know there are no added Blu-ray features that I could tell, but the disc utilizes the smart menu technology so you can access other menus during the film. The main draw would be to watch one of your favorite holiday movies in HD.




Overall – A

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