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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Children > Slapstick > Home Alone – Family Fun Edition (DVD-Video)

Home Alone – Family Fun Edition (DVD-Video)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



John Hughes was at the end of his teen cycle that included several hit record soundtrack-driven hits.  The 1980s was over, New Wave was dead (some felt Hughes helped to kill it with his films) and the formula had grown thin.  However, he was doing other kinds of comedy and with Home Alone (1990) was going for a new generation of potential customers.  The film was originally offered to Warner Bros., who had hits with the Chevy Chase Vacation films (including a third just the holiday before), yet despite the money that made, the studio turned this script down.  Fox picked it up and it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes in Warner history.


Macaulay Culkin had previously appeared in the amusing John Hughes/John Candy comedy Uncle Buck where he stole every scene he was in.  He became the star and with Chris Columbus accepting the directing chores as his career was in trouble, the cameras rolled and the film was a hit.  They simple premise is that a dysfunctional family accidentally leaves their son behind when going on holiday vacation.  Little did they know that two criminals (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) have been planning on breaking into their house.  With their youngest and most hyper child Kevin (Culkin) lefty behind, he will defend the house with honor and drive the would-be crooks crazy.


Well, Panic Room it ain’t, though a permanent feature of the panicked TV news took hold when real-life cases of bad parents leaving their kids behind for too many bad reasons to go into is a legacy of this film.  It also launched Culkin as the biggest child star in years, though that got ugly when his manager/father drove Hollywood nuts and it eventually all imploded.  However, Culkin was onto a good run of hits until the underrated Richie Rich (a Warner Bros. release, ironically) did not work out and even did the first sequel to this film.


Catherine O’Hara and John Heard are the amusingly clueless parents, though looking at them through a PC-glass makes them look comparatively more callous than expected.  One of our critics even suggested a second sequel with the original cast could have involved the police and been subtitled “The McCallister’s Get Busted For Neglect” – an idea that actually has its possibilities.  Too bad that time has come to pass.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is softer than it should be, even when slightly diffused to represent Christmas.  Having seen 35mm of this film, this transfer is just not right.  Not that Cinematographer Julio Macat did anything spectacular with the look of the film, but it was clear enough like a T sitcom to enjoy and this is just not quite right.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is fair, showing the age of the film’s sound fidelity, which was a Dolby analog A-type theatrical release.  The surrounds that are here are old and John Williams’ score is the other prominent highlight in the mix.


Extras include feature-length audio commentary by Director Chris Columbus and an older Macaulay Culkin, the 1990 Press Featurette, The Making of Home Alone, Mac Cam: Behind the Scenes with Macaulay Culkin, How to Burglar Proof Your Home: The Stunts of Home Alone, Home Alone Around the World, Where's the Buzz Now?, Angels with Filthy Souls, Deleted Scenes/Alternate Takes, Blooper Reel and Set-Top Games: Battle Plan, Trivia Game, & Head Count.


Oddly, the original theatrical trailer is not here, reminding me that a friend pointed out one time that he was amazed at the film’s success because everything you needed to know about the film was in its few-minutes length.  Maybe that is why Fox dropped it here.  Either way, the film remains popular, enough so that three sequels were made and it will be a catalog favorite for a long time no matter how silly or dumb.  That was the point, after all.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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