Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Home Alone

And we're back on Fishing in the Discount Bin!  You know how this works, I watch one of the movies I own and blog about it.  I was away there for Christmas vacation, but now I've returned.  And I'm thinking it might be time to wrap up this blog for good.  I used to be able to work a good six months ahead on this blog, but now, I'm lucky if I can work three weeks ahead.  I still pay for cable TV, and between that and streaming services, I barely have the time to keep watching DVDs!  Maybe I should just turn this into a weekly blog about what I'm binging.  But until then, I've still got a a couple of entries in the chamber.  So let's take a look at Home Alone.  I originally watched and wrote this on November 27, 2019.

Well, the holiday season is upon us once again.  I used to question the logic of buying my favourite Christmas movies on home media.  As I said before, the one time you want to watch them is the one time of year they're on TV non-stop.  But, as this modern age marches on, people don't shell out for conventional TV anymore, you may be busy working when they're on TV.  Or, you might not find them on your favourite streaming services.  Hell, a few years ago, Netflix had to issue a public apology for not having what I'm watching tonight, Home Alone

When it hit theatres for the holiday season of 1990, Home Alone quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, peaking at #3 on the list of highest-grossing movies of all time.  Macaulay Culkin became the hottest child star of the 1990s.  And as next year will mark the film's 30th anniversary, it has become a bonifide Christmas classic. 

This film marked a real turning point for writer/producer John Hughes.  Back in the 1980s, he became famous for teen comedies, giving us such classics as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueler's Day Off.  But with Home Alone, he started veering more towards family comedies, and it became his primary output for the rest of the 1990s. 

It was also a star-making vehicle for director Chris Columbus.  Columbus got his start working in Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, where he wrote such classics as Gremlins and The Goonies.  He started his directing career just three years earlier with the beloved Adventures in Babysitting.  And just 10 short years after Home Alone, he'd launch the Harry Potter franchise, directing Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.  Here's an interesting fact I recently learned:  Columbus was originally scheduled to direct another Christmas comedy written and produced by John Hughes, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  But, Columbus quit quite early on, as Chevy Chase is a legendary asshole and Columbus just couldn't get along with him.  Still liking Columbus, though, Hughes offered him another Christmas comedy he was working on...Home Alone

I'm sure you remember the plot.  The McAlister family is getting ready to spend Christmas in Paris.  In all the hustle and the bustle, youngest son Kevin is feeling rather put-out and neglected.  It eventually leads to him throwing a tantrum, fighting with his mother, and making a fateful wish that his family would disappear.  Well, thanks to some freak accidents in the night, the family rushes off to the airport the next morning...and Kevin sleeps though it all, waking up to discover he's now home alone.  It's time for him to grow up real fast as he needs to fend for himself, and protect his home from a pair of burglars who are raiding the neighbourhood. 

Of course, it's that climax that the film is best remembered for, as the two burglars, Harry and Marv, finally raid Kevin's house, only to find that Kevin has rigged the place with tons of booby traps.  It turns into cartoonish, slapstick comedy of the highest order as Kevin repeatedly pummels the two. 

And let's not forget our main subplot as well, as Kevin's mother tries desperately to get home from Paris.  Eventually, a polka playing good Samaritan played by John Candy shows up to help out.  I still maintain that John Candy popping up has to be one of the greatest movie cameos of all time.  Man, I remember seeing the film in the theatre back in the day.  You could hear the whispers throughout the audience, "Is that John Candy?"  I recently found out that John Candy filmed all his scenes in a day...as in, he was literally on set for 24 hours to make sure they got everything they needed. 

Yeah, I saw this in the theatre back in the day.  It was the Christmas season of 1990...the final days of Christmas vacation, as I recall.  We saw the film, and even though it was the middle of the Christmas break, West Edmonton Mall was unusually quiet.  With no line at the submarine rides, my family went on the submarines.  My first time on that ride.  Actually, in its entire lifespan, I only did the submarine ride twice.  It was truly a magical evening. 

And before I wrap this up, let's not forget the legendary score from legendary composer John Williams.  The composer behind the Star Wars films truly brought his A-game to what could have been just a standard family comedy. 

Home Alone is still a spectacular family comedy that remains much beloved.  It's about to be on TV ad naseum again.  Or, if you're looking for a streaming service, thanks to Disney's buyout of Fox, it's on Disney+. 

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