Home Alone review – 1990 Christmas cracker resurfaces

Macaulay Culkin is nearly incandescent with confidence in the yuletide rerelease of Chris Columbus’ box-office smash

The well-known 1990 Christmas romp from screenwriter John Hughes and director Chris Columbus gets a yuletide rerelease. For me, it is a cutesiness overload, but it was a phenomenal box-office smash and made a megastar of angelic 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin doing his famous “Aaaaaaaah!” face as he slapped his palms to his cheeks. His face was, in fact, stinging with the cologne he was putting on, a symbol of his unwonted grownup audacity and jeopardy.

Home Alone film

A harassed extended family head off for France to celebrate Christmas, and in all the mad rush, impish little Kevin (Culkin) gets left behind. At first he thinks it’s a magical fulfilment of his wish that his annoying folks would disappear, but then a couple of burglars try to invade his house. Kevin ingeniously repels boarders, and he also finds time to provide a Christmas-miracle redemption for a local old guy with the Dickensian name of Mr Marley.

The two crooks are played by Daniel Stern and, startlingly, Joe Pesci – a light comedy role that was atypical for him, doing a big “pain” face as he gets shot by a small child in the balls. Culkin’s acting style is a bit broad and mannered, especially in the wacky speeded-up scenes where he whooshes madly about the house, but there’s no doubting the confidence with which the doe-eyed moppet carries this film. Nine years later, in M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment pioneered a very different kind of child acting and child stardom: understated, with a tiny, thoughtful little voice. Well, that wouldn’t have worked for Home Alone. Perhaps it is impossible to see this film without thinking of Culkin’s melancholy adult career, but he is a vivid screen presence, almost incandescent with confidence.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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