Let’s just pretend, hypothetically speaking, that everyone reading this has seen at least some amount of Home Alone during this holiday season. Now let’s stop pretending. It’s as much a reality as the fact that the Sun is bright. This has always intrigued me, but it was not until days ago that I actually got to watch this film in full. Now I think I understand what makes it such a holiday classic.
This is one of the those rare films that reverts me to a stage in my childhood when I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be, and basically, I wanted to be someone like Kevin McCallister. I wanted to be Bugs Bunny too, and Spider-Man, and sometimes even Lizzie McGuire’s brother Matt, but the important thing was never the species, the age, or the powers. It was always the competence. I loved the idea of a character who could always come up with brilliant ideas and creative solutions to problems, and because of this, he approached every situation with a delightful sense of humor and a touch of nonchalance. This movie shows Kevin McCallister taking initiative, fending for himself, conquering his fears, protecting that for which he is responsible, cleverly taking advantage of everything at his disposal to use for creative purposes, and even knowing when to call authorities. There’s much to like about this kid, and I think everybody wants to be him.
I think there are other reasons why this is considered a classic, and much of this is due to the brilliant writing by John Hughes and charming directing by Chris Columbus. While it would be easy to make a film that only focuses on the values of caring about family, this movie takes advantage of everything that can be done with a story of this nature. It makes the family seem really difficult to live with, and it makes the struggle for the mother to get back home seem really difficult, and it makes Kevin thwarting the bandits with household objects seem really clever, while also packing on a bunch of great messages for a Christmas film. Everything about it feels right for a children’s Christmas movie, and I approve of its status as a classic. It may not be Muppet Christmas Carol or Gremlins, but I always knew I could count on Hughes and Columbus to blow Elf out of the water.