The Timelessness of Home Alone


Marifel Miguel, Chief Editor

The Home Alone franchise is a beloved Christmas movie that has touched  many hearts and made people laugh for over 30 years. From the deathly shenanigans the robbers endured, to the misdirected villains, the Home Alone franchise has been able to capture the imaginations of people of all ages: but the real question, is why? How has this movie been able to stay so relevant after 30 years? Well to answer this question I think we need to look at the basics. 

First, the plot. A kid who doesn’t like his family is left home alone on Christmas, it’s every kid’s dream! Kevin’s antics of going through his brother’s room, watching inappropriate movies, and eating ice cream for dinner touches the inner child in all of us.

To top it all off, 2 robbers decide to rob the house thinking no one is in it and get outsmarted by an 8-year-old. Although the plot is far-fetched, the reason why it has stuck so many is because of the underlying message. Our protagonist Kevin is essentially the underdog character. He is shunned, ridiculed, underestimated and in the end, forgotten. But he comes through and shows the audience the extraordinary things he can do when no one is around. Although the family never finds out about the robbers, he still proved to his family that he could survive without them and is worth more than they imagined. 

Another reason for the success of Home Alone is that it’s not a typical Christmas movie. Yes, it’s set during the holidays and has some of the “Christmas movie components” but how many other Christmas movies have the dark edge that Home Alone has? The near-deathly pranks Harry and Marv endured while simply trying to rob a house are all sorts of messed up. Since then, many doctors have been interviewed and revealed that in real life Harry and Marv would have died from all those dangerous pranks.

In a 2012 article from The Week, Dr. Ryan St. Clair of Weill Cornell Medical College was asked about the extent of their many injuries and found Marv and Harry would probably not have been left alive, let alone standing, at the end of the film. Fun fact: none of the stunts used were CGI. The New York Times even dubbed Home Alone, “the first Christmas black comedy for children.” 

Going back to Home Alone touching hearts, the movie was made with that purpose in mind. Clay Routledge, an associate professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, explained that holidays share “a common theme of nostalgia, and Home Alone’s emotional complexity echoes the bittersweet feelings nostalgia invokes, the protagonist of the film is a child and the movie is about his journey which may lead viewers to feel nostalgic for their own childhood experiences.”

Now the big question is how is this movie still so popular after 30 years? Well for starters Home Alone had a huge opening weekend. Despite the movie coming out during November of 1990, the movie quickly became a box office success, going on to earn $476.7 million globally and staying in the top ten movies charts for six months after it’s release. The success even triggered a new verb in Hollywood called “Home Aloned.” This was a term that referred to other movies that suffered at the box office because of Home Alone’s long-lasting success. But going into the more technical aspect of the movie, the soundtrack is an absolute masterpiece from Christmas classics such as, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, White Christmas, and Run Rudolph Run to the remixes and the score. The use of chimes, Christmas bells, and strings adds to the festive feeling. If you look closely at the movie you will notice that there is not one shot that doesn’t have the Christmas colors of red and green. The iconic quotes, lessons, relatable moments, acts of kindness and most importantly the comedy, is timeless. There’s a reason why this movie earned the Guinness World Record as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever domestically. 

Now here we are in 2021 and Home Alone has been out for 31 years and it continues to be a classic, such a classic that the house where they filmed Home Alone is now a must-see if you ever visit Chicago and it was announced in 2021 that the house would be rented for one night only, with one person picked randomly from a raffle.

The movie’s soundtrack was also a huge success: it was nominated for Best Score and Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and it also began a seasonal show in 2013 called Home Alone in Concert. At this concert, a live orchestra performs the score from the film usually accompanied by the movie playing at the same time. 

Some fun facts about Home Alone:

  • Daniel Stern(Marv) quit the movie due to him getting upset over not getting an appropriate paycheck but was asked to come back when the other actor they hired wasn’t working out.
  • The movie almost never existed! The film was originally supposed to come out with Warner Brothers studio with a 10 million dollar budget. Due to the budget being a little higher than expected(almost 15 million dollars) Warner Brothers shut down the movie. But they were luckily saved by 20th Century Fox.
  • They originally wanted Robert De Niro for the role of Harry, but he turned it down.
  • Actor Joe Pesci(Harry) would avoid Macauley Culkin(Kevin) on set so he would appear more afraid of him on screen.
  • The tarantula on Marv’s face was real, but to not scare the tarantula, they pre-recorded the actor’s scream so all he had to do was mime the scream during filming.
  • The only injury that occurred on set was during the scene when the robbers hang Kevin on the hook, actor Joe Pesci accidentally bit Culkin’s finger too hard to the point that it broke the skin and he still has the scar. 
  • The iconic scream and face that Kevin makes in Home Alone and is featured in all of the posters was an accident. For the scene, Culkin was only supposed to pat his face and scream, but he ended up keeping his hands on his face while doing the scream, and director Chris Columbus loved it so much that he decided to keep it. 
  • In a 2018 interview, the Home Alone protagonist Macaulay Culkin revealed that he doesn’t watch the movie anymore since he “can’t watch it the same way other people do. The actor even admitted that he goes out less during the Christmas season when the movie’s popularity is at its peak so he doesn’t get crowded. 

No one could have expected Home Alone to have the success and the popularity it does today, even the wonderful team of people who created this film were shocked by the success it had at the time of its release and are still being shocked for 30 years later.

 “Home Alone, this low budget movie starring a kid had made its mark on the world”