Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Yes, it has been 30 years since the cheeky mug of ‘Kevin McCallister’ (portrayed by Macaulay Culkin) changed the face of Christmas and got a lot of young boys into a sack full of seasonal trouble.
30 years later, Home Alone remains the highest-grossing comedy in movie history, but what made it so great, what happened on the set and where are the cast 30 festive years later?
Written by Gareth Hughes, who, more or less invented the teenage comedy scene of the 1980s with ‘Vacation,’ the buddy road/air/track trip ‘Planes, trains and automobiles’ and finally, his blockbuster ‘Home Alone.’
Home Alone redefined the genre of ‘Christmas films’ by blending a seasonal nostalgia with comedy, EXTREME violence, family and festive spirit. Kevin, abandoned by his family, at first celebrates their absence but soon comes to realise that the very essence of Christmas is family and although the one he has is vast and annoying, it is his alone. All while fending off a vicious attack from strangely polite, invincible home invaders.
It is no wonder then, that 30 years later, it remains at the top of our Christmas flick charts.
Becoming a signpost to Christmas itself, following its first annual airing and inspiring endless tributes, one of the most disturbing and hilarious being the ‘Deep fake’ tribute that switches Culkin’s face with that of Sylvester Stallone.
It is such a festive focal point that the generations that grew up with this film as part of their Christmas canon have come of age, and are now applying ‘adult logic’ to their own rite of passage. The guys at Vsauce took physics to the festive fantasy to see if you ‘Could survive Home Alone’ in the real world...short answer, no, it would end in multiple homicides but...let science explain that to you with moving pictures…
It wasn’t just the violence that we related to in this box office hit, as we quaffed baileys either as adults or children behind our parent's backs, it was the loveable face and rough, rogueish innocence of young Kevin that kindled the seasonal heart. The part was actually written for Macauley Culkin who had impressed Hughes in his previous film ‘Uncle Buck’ but still Christopher Columbus (actual name) interviewed 200 other boys for the role. Unnecessarily some might say, but hey ho ho ho.
Culkin got the role that was written for him and the troubles began. Due to child labour laws, he wasn't allowed to work for more than 5 hours a day or past 10 pm, something of a problem when you're producing a multi-million dollar movie, especially when there are night scenes.
It wasn’t just the cast and plot that extended the film’s shelf life to thirty plus years, the score produced by John Williams afforded an Academy Award nomination and the song ‘Somewhere in my memory’ won an Oscar for both Williams and lyricist Leslie Bricusse. Participate in our Christmas Songs World Cup 2020 for a GENUINE CHRISTMAS high.
The film was so successful, in fact, that it even entered the Hollywood lexicon, as a verb being ‘Home Aloned’ means to have your success suffer at the hands of a greater success, as screenwriter William Goldman explains in his book Who killed Hollywood? And other essays.
Still not done with success in the box office, the film went on to spawn the sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York featuring President Donald Trump and filmed in the Trump hotel, four more sequels, three video games, two board games, a novel and a whole host of merchandise.
The influence spread throughout the US with the house used in the film becoming a tourist attraction, although it sold in 2015 $1.5 million. Success made it overseas, it is, like in many countries, a tradition to watch Home Alone at Christmas in Poland, where it is the most watched show to air during the Christmas season.
The influence resonated deeply with the members of the cast as well, Macauley Culkin who was 10 at the time of filming recalls his time on screen with Joe Pesci, famous for his more serious violence in films like Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. He recalls in one interview “in the first Home Alone, they hung me up on a coat hook, and Pesci says, ‘I’m gonna bite all your fingers off, one at a time...and during one of the rehearsals, he bit me, and it broke the skin.”
“Mac is not like a 9-year-old. He’s an old man already.”
- Joe Pesci
In a world where kids get left home alone and gangsters spend Christmas getting hit in the head with paint cans, it is no wonder a film inside a film like ‘Angels with filthy souls exists.’ Except it doesn’t, not in real life anyway. The film was invented as an insert for the scene. Here’s the full scene uninterrupted by shenanigans.
If films in films weren't enough to keep this cult classic in rotation, there’s also the conspiracy theory that Elvis Presley made an appearance, despite being…dead.
Nowadays Macauley Culkin, the biggest child star of our time has returned to the screens. Most recently to revive his Christmas character in an ad for google assistant.
And later to feature in DRYVERS Episode 1, a youtube series of short episodes based around a fictional ‘Uber’ taxi service. Culkin plays a ‘real-life’ version of his character Kevin, apparently suffering from a lifetime of post-traumatic stress after having been abandoned at Christmas as a child. Viewer discretion is advised, contains strong language and violence.
“You guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?” – Kevin McCallister, aged 30-something