Day 61: My New Thoughts on Home Alone
I rewatched Home Alone recently and noticed that the creators were aiming for a specific character arc for Kevin. He goes from "helpless" to extremely capable of defending himself against professional burglars, outrunning a cop, and getting free pizza in very unique ways. He is capable. My problem with this arc is that he never appeared helpless, only a bit whiny. The only indication of being helpless was the other characters' responses to anything Kevin said. Truly, they were a bunch of assholes to a young kid for no reason that the audience was aware of. In the beginning, we only see a kid that wants help with a simple task and is asking several people politely. And they all tell him to f-off, essentially.
Look, I know this is just a movie designed for kids, so the whole character development doesn’t have as much substance, but I expected more as an adult. It was an aspect of the movie that I had overlooked for so many years.
What they should have done with that opening scene was shown Kevin trying to pack his bag by himself and failing. Perhaps, he could have tried to pack a lamp or something. I don’t know. The point is that we are told by biased characters, including his mother, that he is incapable of doing anything for himself. And instead of teaching him how to pack they choose to just make fun of him and give threats of sticking him with another kid that wets the bed. (Side note: that part of the film is cruel to children [Kevin, Fuller, and audience members] in so many ways that I don’t have time to get into it. That scene always pissed me off. Pun intended.)
The whole opening act was demonstrating how rude, abusive, and uncaring these group of people were. Is packing for a trip that big of a dilemma? Why are so many people walking around the house like they are all working on their 10,000 steps for FitBit? And who goes to another place in the northern hemisphere during the winter season and for Christmas?!
And on top of everything, the dad never seems to give a shit about anything. He is smiling the whole time, not giving two thoughts to what his wife concerns may be about when she is ruminating on the plane. He doesn’t even stay with his wife at the airport to help her in her pursuits of getting home to their son. And at the end, when they are all piling through a door, once again, he basically gives his son a pat on the back and another fucking grin. He was never worried about his son, nor seemed worried about anything at all. All the other characters seemed to change their tune a bit about their annoying little brother, but the dad never changes. He may as well have been cast as just Man #3.
Here’s the biggest plothole:
This movie was made during pre 9/11 days, which is made obvious when the woman at the gate instructs a herd of people to board the plane without properly looking at their tickets. Despite the ridiculous manner in which the family boards the plane, did that woman even count the tickets?! If she did, she would have known that there were one too many tickets compared to people. I understand the sister’s oversight while counting all the children at the vans in the beginning. The back of the neighbor's head did look similar to Kevin’s. But wouldn’t the stewardess and airline need to know how many people are boarding the plane? There are only so many seats. Even being pre 9/11, this is a major oversight in the writing.
And why does John Candy drone on so long about his polka career? I get that it is comic relief. The man is comic relief in appearance. There is no need for him to oddly name off obscure polka songs and groups for over a minute of screen time. Just take the hint: she doesn’t know who the hell you are! And no one gives a crap about polka. (No offense to polka or polka performers. I enjoy the music but do not choose to listen to it in the shower.) And then he has a conversation about how he and all his polka colleagues are horrible dads. Why do these men need to be away from their families for so long? Who the hell has ever heard of a polka tour? Again, I need to remember that this was 1990, the golden age of polka. Wait, that was 1890. The whole polka thing, I think, was an initial comedic idea that did not make sense. They should have just been a Beatles cover band with John Candy as John Lennon. That would have been funny.
The original point to this rant was to point out that Kevin was always a badass. He didn’t suddenly become extremely mature and capable of outsmarting several adults in two days. It doesn’t work like that. So, if he was smart all along, then why did Kevin need help with the simple task of packing his suitcase? Maybe because he has never been to Paris, was not informed how long they were staying there, and was completely dismissed by any question he may have about the upcoming trip. That seems to be more accurate. No one ever gave a crap about this innocent child, including his parents, so he had to fend for himself his whole life in a house full of assholes. Keven was never helpless because no one ever helped him. That explains a lot more about Kevin than the miraculous change of maturity the writers would like you to believe.
The real character development comes through with the mother when she agonizes for days about her horrible actions as a mother. Rightly so, she should agonize. She sucks. And so does the dad. What a smiling dingleberry.
Additionally, to wrap this up, another reason Kevin is already a badass before the start of this film shines through with the conversation that he has with the old man in the church. What he tells the old man about family, loss, and forgiveness is profound, which causes the reunion of the old man and his son. How many nine-year-olds can claim that?
Alright. That’s it.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.
Author's Note #1: Stay tuned for my review of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, where our now impeached president makes an appearance, along with another crazy old person that ends up not being crazy at all. The real crazy was wearing the suit in the lobby.
Author's Note #2: My favorite part of Home Alone is the part where Kevin sets up the toy soldiers on the laundry chute and then proceeds to shoot them down one by one. I always wanted to do that.