So, after one of the best Christmas films of the Millennium, it’s time for a nineties classic.
And today it’s…
26th November, Day 27
Home Alone (Chris Columbus, 1990)
Home Alone 2 (Chris Columbus, 1992)
The extended McCallister family is flying to Paris for a Christmas vacation. Aunties, uncles, cousins, are all packed into one chaotic household, leaving poor Kevin (Macauley Culkin) feeling left out. All he wants is a plain cheese pizza, but when his brother Buzz eats the last piece, they get in a scrap, and Kevin is sent to sleep in the loft alone. When the family oversleeps the next morning, in the mad dash to the airport, Kevin is left behind, home alone, much to the horror of his parents (Catherine O’Hara and John Heard). They can’t get back from Paris in time, so it looks like Kevin is going to get the Christmas of his dreams.
Kevin loves his temporary freedom, living the life of Riley, until the Wet Bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) turn up. They have been surveying the McCallister’s street, and realise that this well-off suburb of Chicago, with its residents all away for Christmas, will be easy pickings for them. That is until they come across this one ingenious little boy determined to protect his castle. Will Kevin survive Christmas alone? Will he outwit the bandits? And will his mother get home to her son?
Home Alone is regarded as one of the great family films of all time, but I just don’t like it that much. Pesci and Stern are great as the comedic incompetent thieves, and Catherine O’Hara is enjoyable as ever as Kevin’s mother Kate. But Kevin McCallister must be one of the least likable protagonists of any family film. He’s selfish, ungrateful, and mean. He’s meant to be comparable to Dennis the Menace in terms of innocent hi-jinx, but he verges into mean. Why wouldn’t he tip the pizza delivery boy properly? Oh well, at least he learnt his lesson by the end. Right?
But hey, there’s John Candy as Gus Polinski “the Polka King of the Midwest”, and Angels With Filthy Souls, so I can’t be too down on this.
Overall, I give this:
Although it’s one of the most successful films EVER, Kevin McCallister is a brat, and now that I’m a grown up (in age terms at least) I can’t help but root for the Wet Bandits for most of the film. Still, it IS undeniably fun.
A year later, and this time the McAllisters are going to Florida for Christmas. (I don’t know why the year before didn’t teach them the importance of family being together at home). Again, we have a big, chaotic household the night before. Again Kevin gets in a fight with his brother, and has to sleep in the attic. Again they sleep-in and rush to the airport. But this time Kevin gets himself in the car, and makes it to the airport. BUT… he gets separated from his family, and ends up catching a plane to New York instead!
Luckily, he also has his father’s credit card and cash, so he books himself into a hotel. Mr Hector (Tim Curry) the hotel receptionist, and the bellhop Cedric (Rob Schneider) find it suspicious that they never see Kevin’s father, but that is the least of his trouble. The Wet Bandits have escaped from prison and are in New York. When they spot him they see a chance for revenge, but Kevin manages to hide himself in a building and stay one step ahead of them.
Will Kevin survive the vengeful bandits? Will Catherine O’Hara’s Kate get to see her son again? Will anyone have a Merry Christmas?
There’s a proud tradition of British sitcoms sending their characters on holiday to create a feature film. It was also a default way to generate a sequel to a film – stick the characters in a new situation, maybe somewhere iconic like say New York, and basically do the same story again. That’s exactly what happened here. Kevin didn’t learn anything from the first film. His mother went through hell the year before (and not just a van ride with a polka band), but he doesn’t give her a second thought until literally the very end. Plus, he meets a “strange woman” in the park and runs away screaming – he forgot everything he learnt about his elderly neighbour obviously.
In fact, the whole McCallister family is pretty unlikable. Suspension of disbelief only takes you so far, when people have something go horrible wrong one year, and then do the exact same thing the next year, it’s hard to have any sympathy for them. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… err.. you can’t get fooled again.
The violence is upped to such an extent that Kevin becomes quite sadistic. There are some elaborate traps like the first film, but there’s also an extended scene of Kevin throwing bricks at Daniel Stern’s head. Subtle it ain’t. The Wet Bandits – or Sticky Bandits as they want to be known – are comic relief in the first film, but here they become so inept that even Wile E. Coyote would feel sorry for them. The stuff in the hotel is entertaining (I didn’t think I would include a US President in this Countdown, but Donald Trump has a cameo), and that bit of Kevin wanting a “proper” Christmas is ok. But the latter half is just brutally violent!
Angels With Even Filthier Souls is probably the one and only highlight for me.
Overall, I give this
Ugh, this was a slog. The stuff in the hotel is entertaining enough, but the second half sees Looney Toons style violence that just makes you wince. What did the Wet Bandits do to deserve this? Part from be very, very, very stupid.
One fun film, one cash-in sequel.It’s enough to make you hate Christmas… speaking of which, tomorrow it’s Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christrmas!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2
11th November, Day 12: About A Boy
12th November, Day 13: Trapped In Paradise
13th November, Day 14: Reindeer Games
14th November, Day 15: Joyeux Noel
15th November, Day 16: Nativity / Nativity 2 / Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
16th November, Day 17: Jack Frost
17th November, Day 18: Jack Frost
18th November, Day 19: Arthur Christmas
19th November, Day 20: The Santa Clause / The Santa Clause 2 / The Santa Clause 3
20th November, Day 21: Miracle On 34th Street
21st November, Day 22: Miracle On 34th Street
22nd November, Day 23: Scrooged
23rd November, Day 24: Scrooge
24th November, Day 25: The Muppet’s Christmas Carol
25th November, Day 26: Elf
26th November, Day 27: Home Alone / Home Alone 2