All the reasons 'Home Alone' is still the best, 25 years later
Every year, my husband and I watch a bevy of Christmas movies starting…well, right about now. Last week, he asked me, “When can we start watching Christmas movies?” Every year, that question comes a little bit earlier, but as long as it doesn’t ever come before Halloween, I’m not complaining. Because the truth is, there are so many great Christmas movies that are so classic (It’s a Wonderful Life), so feel-good (Love Actually), and so ridiculous (Jingle All the Way) that we have to watch them every single year – which means it’s usually wise to start as early as possible, if we want to sleep somewhere in there.
One of the movies on this list is Home Alone, which was released in theatres 25 years ago today. From its accurate depiction of the panicky-yet-elated feeling you get when things go completely awry and accompanying lessons in what to do in times of a crisis, to its unapologetic shenanigans (and, frankly, just that house), Home Alone is, without a doubt, a must-watch during the holidays.
Here are all the reasons I still love it, and why it still holds its charm 25 years later.
Its accuracy on the difficulties of dealing with family…
Who doesn’t have a jerk uncle like Uncle Frank and a cousin who wets the bed like Fuller (who, fun fact, was played by Macaulay Culkin’s real-life brother, Kieran Culkin)?
A lot of holiday movies paint a rosy picture of family life, but Home Alone doesn’t sugarcoat. And I like it.
Literally none of Kevin’s 675 siblings are nice to him. Buzz is just mean to exert his authority and tells Kevin scary stories about salt and bodies and mummies to get him all riled up. Another of his brothers calls him a disease. One of his sisters even condescends him in French (which I actually sort of admire, not gonna lie). Like, dang. Eventually they come around and see he’s an actual human, but when it takes your whole family leaving you for a few days and you putting burglars behind bars to get your siblings to treat you anything better than terribly, that’s gotta sting. But I mean, that’s life, I guess.
Its perfect description of that feeling of having an entire house to yourself
Both the good…
And the bad.
The “movie within a movie”
Did anyone else think Angels with Filthy Souls was an actual movie until like, an embarrassing number of years after this movie came out? Just me? OK, I’ll chalk it up to having been five years old when Home Alone premiered and move on. But just try to tell me with a straight face that, “Keep the change, ya filthy animal” isn’t the most recognized line in Home Alone. And let’s not forget its successor, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal” from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York / Angels with Filthier Souls.
Its lessons in stranger danger
Remember the scene in the grocery store where the cashier is like, “Who are you? Where do you live? Who is your daddy and what does he do!?” (OK, wrong movie with that last one.)
But even though the cashier probably doesn’t mean any harm, Kevin knows adults cannot be trusted and whips out his best after-school-special knowledge.
Girl, he doesn’t know you. Move along.
The booby traps we all still want to build
Let’s be real: Every single one of us who owned the game Mouse Trap asked for it with the intention of channeling Kevin McCallister in some fashion. I personally played a lot of the Home Alone NES game, which was equal parts exhilarating and frustrating. If I had a nickel for every time my heart jumped into my throat when Harry and/or Marv showed up when I was just trying to hide in the treehouse, I could probably buy a lifetime supply of cheese pizzas, just for me. But at least it allowed me to get my fix of catching bad guys with elaborate engineering feats I could never actually put together in real life.
Its commentary on how kids and adults really aren’t that much different
Home Alone is usually regarded as a comedy with a lot of slapstick humor and quotable lines, but in between the gags it’s pretty heavy. The relationship between Kevin and Old Man Marley hits me especially hard, because it bridges the seemingly wide gap between kids and older people that many are too shy or scared to explore. But the holidays are nothing if not about reaching your hand out beyond your comfort zone to make friends in places you never thought you wanted to, or could.
Plus, you never know when making friends with older, stronger people will come in handy.
Kevin also reminds us that we only live once and that life is too short to live with regret, let your fear steer you, or hold onto anger. See also: that last scene between Samantha and Crazy Pete in Now and Then. Movies that remind us that kids are just little humans are truly the best.
That flawless soundtrack
To this day, every time I’m in a busy airport and running behind schedule, Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” starts playing in my head. I also can’t hear “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” without fantasizing about setting up a bunch of random objects and mannequins (side note: why did the McCallisters have these?) behind my living-room blinds to make it look like I’m more popular than I really am.
Its depiction of unconditional love
From the story of Old Man Marley and his son to Kevin’s mom doing everything in (and maybe even a little outside) her power to get home, to the final reunion between Kevin and his family at the end of the movie, Home Alone still reminds us that nothing can replace our family – as crazy and overbearing as they might be, they’re our only one. And that is what the holidays are really all about.