Sunday, December 5, 2010

12 films of christmas: home alone

In popular culture, Christmas is full of misfits and outcasts (Rudolph, Charlie Brown, the Grinch).  Twenty years ago (!), Home Alone brought us Kevin McAllister: eight years old, a little bratty and lost in the shuffle of his family's chaotic holiday plans.

When the movie came out my own little brother was not much older than Kevin and the film was in pretty steady rotation in our house.  We watched, of course, to laugh at the bumbling burglars falling prey to Kevin's booby traps. 

Today I still catch myself chucklying over the absurdity but I also see the poignancy in the film.  Like all John Hughes films, it has staying power because amid the pratfalls it has heart: Catherine O'Hara's desperate attempts to reunite with her little boy, old man Marley next door who's also dealing with being home alone and Kevin's mix of exhilaration and terror as he comes to terms with being all alone.  (A feeling that doesn't go away when you are a grown-up.)

It's a fun holiday movie but it's the emotional pull that earns it a spot on my list.  As well as John Williams score:  the minute I hear it, I can picture settling with my little brother under afghans for our umpteenth viewing of the movie.

(If it seems the soundtrack is foreshadowing another boy going it alone, JW also composed the soundtrack to Harry Potter)

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