259. Home Alone

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Movie: Home Alone

Release Date: November 16, 1990

Director: Chris Columbus

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, John Candy.

Tag Lines: “Holy cow!”

“Bring Home The Laughter This Holiday Season!”

“When Kevin’s family left for vacation, they forgot one minor detail: Kevin. But don’t worry… He cooks. He cleans. He kicks some butt.”

“A family comedy without the family.”

Relevance: I warned you that John Hughes would be back (see 285. Weird Science for that warning). Although he did not direct ‘Home Alone,’ he did write and produce it and his signature style is well represented. The directing credit goes to Chris Columbus. This is his third movie to show up on my most influential movies list. (See 317. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and 305. Adventures in Babysitting for his first two.) With these two gentlemen involved, it’s no surprise that they struck box office gold with this holiday classic.

You couldn’t escape ‘Home Alone’ during the 1990 holiday season. There was so much talk and buzz surrounding the movie you had to be living under a rock to miss it. It was quite the phenomenon. It was the number one movie in America for twelve straight weeks. In fact it remained in the top ten movies in North America through April 26, 1991. It’s the second highest grossing film of 1990 with over $476 million world wide. ‘Ghost,’ a movie that will most definitely be watched this year was first with over $505 million world wide.

One would think that a movie with that much talk and longevity in theaters I would have had the chance to see it. I didn’t. You can blame Madonna, the rock I was living under. In June of 1990 I saw Madonna’s “Blond Ambition World Tour” where she smiled at me during her performance of “Sooner or Later.” It took me months to recover from that. Then on November 6 of that year she released a new single “Justify My Love.” I get very giddy when there is new music. The release of her first greatest hits album, “The Immaculate Collection” was then released on November 9. Then the video for “Justify My Love” aired for the first time at the end of the month and pretty much all hell broke loose. It was a huge controversy and I was both riveted and ecstatic. If people weren’t talking about ‘Home Alone,’ they were talking about “Justify My Love.” For me, because Madonna was, is and always will be “Queen of Everything,” I’m not even sure I knew what “Home Alone’ was.

Madonna news stayed around right through the summer of 1991 including a show stopping performance at the Oscars, where she was escorted by none other than Michael Jackson and the release of her movie ‘Truth or Dare.’ That kept me very preoccupied throughout the summer. By the time I went back to college in the Fall of 1991, things were starting to calm down in the world of Madonna, although she never really left (leaves) my psyche. Only in my life does a ‘Home Alone’ story revolve around Madonna.

Visiting some friends off campus late in that fall semester of 1991, I finally got the chance to see the movie that everyone was talking about. The one friend whose apartment we were at loved the movie a lot. He had a VHS copy, so with drinks in hand I finally watched it. And I was thoroughly entertained, which surprised me a bit. Many times when a movie is so hyped up like this movie was, I am left underwhelmed after finally seeing it. It was not the case this time. The movie made me laugh, a lot. The crazy cast of characters and the adorable performance by Macaulay Culkin would make the meanest of Grinch’s at least smile a few times. Not only did I finally got to see what the world was talking about but I agreed with them wholeheartedly.

I can’t count the number of times I have watched ‘Home Alone.’ Hundreds? Absolutely. I own the DVD and it gets played at least once (probably more) during the Christmas season at my house every year. Plus I watch it almost all of the time when it airs on numerous television channels throughout every November and December. It never gets old. I love the Christmas season and this movie has been a part of it for years and will continue to be for many, many more to come.

Today’s Thoughts: I just watched ‘Home Alone’ a few months ago, but here I am in the middle of April watching a Holiday classic. I think the universe knew I would be watching it because when I woke up this morning, there was snow covering the ground. “Sometimes It Snows In April” is one of my favorite Prince songs, but I’m not always a fan when it actually happens. But because of what movie was on the horizon, I was okay with it today. I bundled up with a blanket and a hot cup of coffee and celebrated Christmas in April with ‘Home Alone.’

I don’t know why but the movie still makes me laugh. Funny is funny I guess, right? Yes Macaulay Culkin is adorable, but for me Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are the true comic geniuses in the film. So many of their lines as well as the high jinks they endure throughout amuses me immensely.

“I think we’re getting scammed by a kindergartener.”

“Why the hell you dressed like a chicken?”

Some of the facial expressions and looks, especially by Joe Pesci, are priceless and are alone worth the watch. I do still have to look away when Daniel Stern steps on the nail. Every time.

‘Home Alone’ is a great family, holiday film. Even its sequel, which is not on this list, is a fun movie to watch. With mostly the same actors and creative team, how could it not? But there is nothing like the original. It is the perfect movie to watch to celebrate Christmas, whether that is in December, July or April.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Somewhere in My Memory,” John Williams, Leslie Bricusse (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, John Williams (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a MOtion Picture – Comesy or Musical, Macaulay Culkin (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, DVD availability.

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