Around the office, Judge David Packard is known as the "Wet Bandit." Sheesh, swipe one bottle of Aquafina, and you're branded for life.
Our review of Home Alone (Blu-Ray), published January 5th, 2009, is also available.
"I don't want another family. I don't want any family. Families suck!"—Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin)
Despite the goofy subtitle (I can't help but think of the "optional rally fun pack" that Clark Griswold expected with the purchase of his Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon in National Lampoon's Vacation), Home Alone—Family Fun Edition packs some surprisingly-solid extras along with the 1990 box office smash that had kids everywhere slapping their cheeks and screaming in mock pain.
Facts of the Case
Thanks to the older brother straight from the seventh circle of Hell, eight-year-old Kevin is punished and sent to bed. Before he storms off, he makes his views on the family unit (see The Charge for a refresher of his eloquent, blunt opinions) perfectly clear to Mom (Catherine O'Hara). Due to a series of unfortunate events penned by writer John Hughes, Kevin awakens to a quiet, empty house and assumes that his wish of a family-free life has been granted. With nary an authority figure in sight, Kevin is soon indulging in square meals of towering ice cream sundaes and watching trashy television.
But Kevin soon learns that living the bachelor life is not all rainbows and unicorns. For starters, there's Marley (Roberts Blossom), the Creepy Old Guy Next Door who may or may not be a homicidal maniac. There's the Scary Thing In The Basement with fiery jaws of steel that nearly leaves Kevin soiling his tighty whities. Perhaps worst of all, a pair of bungling burglars, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), are casing the McAllister joint for a big Christmas Eve heist, threatening Kevin with the very real possibility that his mug may soon end up splashed across the back of a milk carton. As if all of this isn't enough, Kevin must confront doing the laundry, grocery shopping, and the growing feeling that he's starting to miss the family he once despised.
Home Alone was quite the smash when it hit theaters over 15 years ago, and it's pretty easy to see why: At one point or another, every kid has probably wished for the ultimate freedom from parents and their iron-fisted enforcement of household rules. Home Alone lets kids merrily flirt with that fantasy through Kevin as he indulges in raucous bed jumping, stairway sledding, and ordering pizza tailor-made for him. My six-year-old son, Sean, often howled at Kevin's shenanigans, and it took me back to when I saw this movie during its initial theatrical run. That theater was chock-full of kids who ate this up unlike anything I'd seen before, braying in unison at everything Kevin did. If I didn't find myself laughing at the on-screen antics, I was chuckling at watching the kids go berserk with glee over this flick.
The hijinks take a bit of a backseat when the reality of Kevin's situation begins to present itself. Of course, the largest threat is the Keystone Krooks portrayed by Pesci and Stern. They have a goofy chemistry that works well, and although they may appear menacing a few times during the film, the scare factor is quickly extinguished by resourceful Kevin.
All of this builds to the third act, which includes a surprisingly touching scene in a church between Kevin and Marley. But the real meat-and-potatoes of the film is the grand finale in which Kevin thwarts Harry and Marv's home invasion with a series of ingenious booby traps. In real life, some of Kevin's contraptions would result in serious injury or worse, but in director Chris Columbus' PG-rated world, the results are comical and hilarious, turning Harry and Marv's "Wet Bandits" into a live action Wily E. Coyote that repeatedly comes up short to the smarter, Roadrunner-like Kevin.
Let me mention that Macaulay Culkin does a very passable job as the precocious Kevin. I think the movie's massive popularity brought some backlash against Culkin that was truly unfair and undeserved. He may not have been Dakota Fanning in the acting department, but give him a break—he was nine. And his skills were certainly light-years from Jake Lloyd.
Rounding out the film is another fine score by John Williams (who was not the film's original composer, as you learn in the audio commentary) that often reminded me of his Harry Potter compositions to come years later. The rest of the audio is fine, although beyond a few scenes of an airliner passing overhead, you won't get much of a workout from your 5.1 system. Visually, the transfer is good, although it seems to have an overall "dark" look to it. I didn't spot much dirt, scratches, or other debris. It's not the crispest video in the world, but it's acceptable for a film not far from its inevitable 20th anniversary edition.
Now, chances are you may already own Home Alone from its prior DVD release. The decision of whether to purchase this one ultimately rests on the bulk of extras that make this the "Family Fun Edition."
• "Feature Audio Commentary by Director Chris Columbus and
Star Macaulay Culkin"
• "The Making of Home Alone"
• "How to Burglar Proof Your Home: The Stunts of Home
• "Home Alone Around the World"
• "Where's the Buzz Now?"
• "Mac Cam: Behind the Scenes with Macaulay Culkin"
• "Angels with Filthy Souls"
• "1990 Press Featurette"
• "15 Exclusive Deleted Scenes or Alternate Takes"
• "Hilarious Gag Reel"
• "Set-top Games: Battle Plan, Trivia Quiz, and Head
"Head Count" presents you with a scene from the film before asking
you a question of which you'll probably find yourself wildly guessing the
answer. "How many people were wearing glasses in the scene?"
"What color was the faucet?" My pressing question was, "How do I
make this stop?"
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Home Alone is certainly fun for the kiddies, but it's rated PG for a good reason. The youngest of children may be frightened on more than one occasion by Pesci and Stern's attempts to get to Kevin. There's also a few bits of language that, personally, I felt could have been completely omitted for this type of film. Granted, it doesn't get any worse than "ass"—and Pesci is far from Goodfellas or Casino mode—but I still found it unnecessary.
Not every extra ("Where's the Buzz Now?," some of the games) cuts the mustard. If you already own this film and extras aren't your thing, you'll most likely want to skip purchasing this edition.
Home Alone—Family Fun Edition serves up a rollicking film that both kids and adults will enjoy, and it just may make its way into your line-up of must-watch DVDs during the Christmas holiday season. The bevy of extras is nice, even if there's the odd wrinkle or two that doesn't work. And if your kid can't get enough of Kevin's world, check out the solid first sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which eerily copies the structure of the first film yet ups the fun factor as Kevin once again dishes out the pain to the Wet Bandits in an under-construction apartment building. Pretend films three and four do not exist.
The court hereby finds Home Alone—Family Fun Edition not guilty by reason of its own insane fun. The court awards Kevin McAllister his very own cheese pizza, not to be touched, eaten, spit upon, or otherwise defiled by any other person. We do, however, hold those responsible in contempt for the horrendous and completely unnecessary second (I don't care if Roger Ebert does consider the third film to be "better than the first two") and third sequels.
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Scales of Justice
• Feature Audio Commentary by Director Chris Columbus and Star Macaulay Culkin
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