In the run-up to the big tinselly bang, our writers check out some celluloid classics. For Daisy Leverington, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Kevin and Kate McCallister.
Home Alone is a whole 26 years old now. If its parents accidentally left it at home while they flew to Paris it would probably be fine, have a few mates round, drink some hipster gin from a jar, that sort of thing. But not Kevin. Kevin is the sort of child I hope my daughter grows up to be. She already loves plain cheese pizzas and answers back like a pro, so we just need to work on self-sufficiency and then we’ll book our plane tickets.
I adore Home Alone. It’s my warm-up to Christmas movie of choice and it’s been on my telly every December since I was small. I’m roughly the same age as Macaulay Culkin, so I grew up knowing that a child our age would be totally fine to take on two burglars and reunite an old scary man with his estranged family. Easy.
I never thought through the logistics of booby-trapping a mansion, nor would I have had the smarts to disguise an iron as a light switch or attach a blowtorch to a door frame. These things were JUST WHAT YOU DID. Never mind the social services shitstorm and trial by tabloid that would accompany this situation in 2016, back in 1990 we were all waaaaay more relaxed about leaving a minor to defend himself against two hardened criminals.
My absolute favourite character is Catherine O’Hara as Kate McCallister, Kevin’s mum. I’d pay good money to see the entire film retold through her eyes. Finally, a break from her little shite of a youngest child and she has to trek the entire way home to collect him. I’d have stayed on holiday.
The film is an utter masterpiece in storytelling. In the simpler days before mobile phones and internet, the hapless police dispatch team are as much use as Harry and Marv’s ‘wet bandits’.
“If you’re a kid you root for Kevin. If you’re a grown-up you appreciate the heart-tugging family reunion story. And if, at whatever age, you don’t laugh at a grown man having a tarantula placed on his face and squealing like a little girl then bah humbug to you.”
Kate is forced on a crappy journey home, in which John Candy steals the entire show with a few lines about that one time he left a child in a funeral parlour. (“Yeah, it was awful. The wife was distraught and we left the little tyke there in the funeral parlour all day. All day. You know, we went back at night and apparently he had been alone all day with the corpse. He was OK though, after two, three weeks he came around and started talking again…” I have never not laughed at this.)
Home Alone is the ultimate Christmas movie. Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) are just the right amount of hilarious to make them non-threatening to a younger audience. The perfect slapstick routines as they try to break into Kevin’s home are modern clowning at its finest.
If you’re a kid you root for Kevin. If you’re a grown-up you appreciate the heart-tugging family reunion story. And if, at whatever age, you don’t laugh at a grown man having a tarantula placed on his face and squealing like a little girl then bah humbug to you.
Kevin’s ultimate wish to make his family disappear may well be the key to the film’s enduring popularity. Maybe it’s also the secret truth behind Christmas whether you’re eight or 38: I’d definitely spend a week eating pizza and ice-cream in an empty house given half a chance.
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Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.