Boy, 20th Century Fox is getting really creative with their Blu-ray releases, between the Die Hard Nakatomi Plaza set and the Home Alone paint can set. It is the 25th anniversary of the original Home Alone. God, has it really been 25 years? Macaulay Culkin must be older than me now.
The big appeal of this collection for me was actually the made for TV sequels Home Alone 4 and Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, previously unavailable to view, and still only on DVD in this set. After lowering my expectations considerably, I have to say I enjoyed both. Home Alone 4 has recast the McCallister family and gone to a dark place. The parents are divorcing! Spending Christmas with his dad’s new fiance, Kevin (Michael Weinberg) has a new high tech house to use against Marv (French Stewart) and his new partner/lover Vera (Missi Pyle). In some ways, Home Alone 4 is truer to the original than Home Alones 2 and 3, despite its dated Home Improvement style TV scene transitions.
Holiday Heist is more of a stretch, making the Home Alone 3 mistake of thinking we’d care about a different family leaving their kid home alone. And how in five movies did no one think of leaving a girl home alone to fight burglars??? But, Holiday Heist saves it all for the finale and has a pretty big climax for a TV movie. Also a reference to Munch’s The Scream makes it very meta, given Culkin’s trademark move in the original.
As a kid, my big issue with the original Home Alone was always that the McCallisters treat Kevin (Culkin) so poorly, I didn’t believe he would ever want them back. I watched the original again to see if I had matured any, and now I see it’s not quite as harsh as I remembered. It’s the night before the extended McCallister family is traveling abroad, so it’s just a case of travel stress and no one having time for one kid. Still, the fact that Kevin experiences remorse and self-reflection is a big thing for anyone, let alone an eight-year-old. I think the real problem is that the film never establishes the McCallisters as a loving family, hence my harsh childhood judgement.
I also get that the excitement of having the house to yourself wears off and you do need contact with other people. It’s actually only three days Kevin is home, I realize now. We see three mornings and nights, plus the parents establish that the first available flight home is two days from now. Three days is an eternity to kids. The finale is still a slapstick masterpiece.
I always liked Home Alone 2: Lost in New York for its sheer sequelness. It’s so blatantly transposing the big set pieces of Home Alone to New York, it’s fun. That took the sting out of the original’s more saccharine moments for young Franchise Fred too.