Home Alone fans have Chevy Chase’s famously volatile temper to thank for helping create the festive family favorite. The story goes that, several years earlier when Home Alone writer John Hughes was working on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, he personally recommended Chris Columbus to direct the project. Then he met Chase… “Chevy treated me like dirt,” Columbus told Chicago Magazine years later. While an initial meeting between the pair proved frosty, Columbus decided to give him a second chance with another face-to-face to discuss plans for the film. Then he quit.
Calling up Hughes, Columbus declared: “There’s no way I can do this movie. I know I need to work, but I can’t do it with this guy.” Feeling bad for his friend, Hughes passed him scripts for two projects he was working on: Home Alone and Reach The Rock. Reading both, Columbus quickly latched onto the wit, inspired slapstick comedy and suitable festive feel of Home Alone and the rest, as they say, is history—history we have Chase to thank for. The passing of time has allowed Columbus to look at the Chase debacle in a different light in the years since, but time hasn’t been kind to every aspect of Home Alone.
10 The McCallister's Incredible Wealth
Time can heal many wounds, but it can also open up a few new ones. On first viewing, the McCallister family home is a thing of wonder and the perfect stage for Kevin’s comedy schemes. Yet as time has moved on and everyone has become a little older and wiser, that same house has become a source of some bitterness.
It’s basically a million-dollar mansion and looking at it now with adult eyes changes the entire complexion of the movie. The McCallisters are not ordinary folk. They are the worst kind of rich people, more focused on their free first-class trip to the notoriously expensive Paris than they are the whereabouts of their own son.
9 Buzz's Relentless Bullying
Buzz McCallister might well be the worst big brother in the history of cinema and it’s a status confirmed when watching Home Alone back all these years later. He treats Kevin like dirt, demanding he knock when entering his room and, in possibly his weirdest and most disgusting move, eating an entire cheese pizza he was supposed to share with his younger brother, and then offering to regurgitate it onto a plate for his sibling.
If anything, he is the catalyst for the whole Home Alone fiasco, goading Kevin into a confrontation that ends with his younger brother being sent off to bed on the third floor. All that and he never expresses concern about his younger brother being left behind.
8 Everything About Uncle Frank
If Buzz is the worst big brother in cinema history, then Frank McCallister is probably the ultimate deadbeat uncle. He’s a terrible role model and a bully to boot, whether it’s dodging paying towards the mammoth pizza delivery that arrives at the McCallister household or not letting Kevin watch a movie in peace. Frank has a real bee in his bonnet about young Kev, and, watching back all these years later, the sight of a grown man calling a small boy a “little jerk” is a little unsettling.
All that and he steals glassware from first class on the flight to Paris and seems less than sympathetic when it is discovered Kevin was left at home, telling his brother that he left his glasses at home. An awful man.
7 All The Rampant Commercialism
Product placement was pretty common in most movies back in the 1990s, but watching Home Alone back now, it’s alarming to see the amount that features in this festive favorite.
Reeling off the incredible variety of brands that feature prominently says it all: Pepsi, American Airlines, Playboy, Junior Mints, Crunch Tators, Tide, Tropicana, Tic Tacs, Kraft, Hershey’s Syrup, Women’s Day Magazine, Wilson basketballs, the Chicago Bulls, Pampers, Emerson TVs, Budget Truck Rental, Adidas, Bellsouth, Shower to Shower, Panasonic, Nikon, Wonder Bread, Koho, Colgate, Quilted Northern, Aquafresh and JVC. That’s a whole lot of product placement.
6 The Concept of Time Itself
Let’s look at the facts, here. After a power cut disables all of the alarm clocks in the house, the McCallisters end up hurriedly leaving for the airport with about 45 minutes to spare before their flight takes off. Viewers know this because Uncle Frank says it. The closest airport to their house is Winnetka is O’Hare, the airport where the scenes in the film are shot.
Now, even if they had the perfect journey, free of any traffic or hold-ups, it would take a good 25 minutes to get to O’Hare. So, given that most airlines close their gates 15 minutes before departure, the McCallisters had roughly 10 minutes to get through security and get to their gate. No chance.
5 The Unrelenting Greed Of Ed And Irene
Ed and Irene play an important role in Home Alone. They are they kindly old couple who agree to trade tickets with Kate McCallister so she can get home to Kevin. On the face of it, they are a kind old pair. But, watching the movie back now, the sheer greed of the miserly pair really comes to the fore.
Here is a mother, desperate to be reunited with her home alone son, and yet the couple aren’t content with switching tickets or getting some money to cover their additional days away. No, they also take Kate’s watch, her pocket translator (why?) and a ring—possibly her wedding ring! It’s pure, unadulterated greed.
4 How The Police Are Portrayed
Home Alone is a scathing indictment of the police. When Kate McCallister gets in touch to explain that her son is home alone, they send a single officer to check on Kevin at the McCallister house. He ends up putting in the most minimal amount of effort to check up on Kevin. He knocks on the door, waits a few minutes, and then gives up.
At this point, Kate has established Kevin is definitely home alone, but does the officer stick around to make contact with the kid? No, he radios through advising Kate to “count her kids again." Good job.
3 The Entire Cardboard Cutouts Scheme
It’s one of those plans that looks smart on film but falls down the minute you map it out on paper. To try and trick Harry and Marv into believing the McCallister residence is a bustling hive of activity over the festive period, Kevin concocts a plan involving several carefully positioned mannequins, a lot of string and a train set or two.
Add in a bit of music and, from the outside, the place looks pretty busy with Kev pulling all the strings. But how long was he doing all that for? How did he know when the wet bandits would be driving past? That must have been torture.
2 Old Man Marley's Weird Relationship With His Granddaughter
Kevin spends much of Home Alone’s run time believing Old Man Marley is in fact’ the South Bend Shovel Slayer’ responsible for offing his entire family and half of the neighborhood. That’s obviously proven incorrect when Marley strikes up a conversation with Kev in their local church on Christmas Eve. Yet, the truth is still kind of strange.
It turns out that Marley is there to watch his granddaughter in the choir. He fell out with his son years earlier, you see, and this is apparently the only way he can see his grandchild. That’s quite a strange dynamic when you think about it. Is his estranged son cool with that?
1 The Saw-like Levels of Violence
Home Alone serves as a terrible example of how to deal with intruders. Sure, there’s a Tom & Jerry style slapstick quality to much of the film’s pain-inducing traps and tricks, but, when you tally them all up, it adds up to an alarming scenario.
Macaulay Culkin isn’t so much Kevin McCallister as he is a young John Kramer staring in his own, significantly lighter, Saw prequel. Seriously. Nails are trodden on, bricks are thrown, and hot irons are dropped. There’s even a supposed gag involving a flame thrower and the kind of slips and trips that should result in broken bones and maybe even paralysis. It’s actually kind of insane. But it’s also completely hilarious.