"Home Alone" is so much better if Kevin McCallister is dead
December 26, 2017 7:00 AM   Subscribe

"Home Alone" is so much better if Kevin McCallister is dead. Ever wonder why Macaulay Culkin's family hated their cute little 8-year-old so much in the Christmas classic? Here's why.
posted by gudrun (58 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a wonderful read.
posted by curious nu at 7:07 AM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


I tried to watch this movie years ago and gave up because it made no sense. Until now.
posted by JanetLand at 7:12 AM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Maybe he's afraid of the furnace because it ate him
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:22 AM on December 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


Kevin has a plane ticket that gets destroyed and accidentally thrown out while they’re eating pizza in the first act. If he’s a ghost, that’s an expensive ritual to appease it.
posted by dr_dank at 7:25 AM on December 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


Also it kind of glosses over this:

Kate McCallister is the only person who reacts to forgetting Kevin the way a normal person would to forgetting a child.

She's literally trying to think of the things they forgot and then sits up, screaming her son's name. Everyone else later tries to comfort her, and no one says "Kate, you didn't forget Kevin, he's dead."

The only scenario that fits the facts here is that the McCallisters are horrible, horrible people who frankly could stand a little oversight by child protective services.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:36 AM on December 26, 2017 [15 favorites]


Kevin has a plane ticket that gets destroyed and accidentally thrown out while they’re eating pizza in the first act

As seen here.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:37 AM on December 26, 2017 [9 favorites]


The ghost from that movie that haunts me is 'easy-on-the-Pepsi' Fuller.
posted by Namlit at 7:38 AM on December 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I mean, the article isn't called "Kevin McCallister is totally dead in Home Alone and here's why", it's called "Home Alone is So Much Better if Kevin McCallister is Dead". The author is clearly aware that Kevin McCallister isn't actually dead in the movie. She just thinks it would be better if he were.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:47 AM on December 26, 2017 [61 favorites]


It’s probably a better movie if the audience is dad, too. Or at least dead drunk.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:55 AM on December 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


Can Haley Joel Osment see Macaulay Culkin?
posted by Construction Concern at 8:07 AM on December 26, 2017 [9 favorites]


as someone who has always been way too old to ever appreciate what everybody else seems to love about Home Alone, I find it works so much better if I'm dead, and maybe not in hell, but definitely stuck in some kind of purgatory.
posted by philip-random at 9:11 AM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Home Alone is part of my Christmas Canon. I don't understand why people hate it so much.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:19 AM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


It’s probably a better movie if the audience is dad, too

If Kevin's dad is someone who'd rather be in Paris than dealing with Kevin's nonsense, then aren't we all dad?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:21 AM on December 26, 2017 [15 favorites]


I know good people should be irritated by gritty ~fan theories~ of childhood movies, but I'm not a good person. Ghost Kevin rules my heart now, thanks!
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:34 AM on December 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


Home Alone is part of my Christmas Canon. I don't understand why people hate it so much.

Simple over-exposure. Especially when the sequels started landing.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:35 AM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


The jokes on us. It's the audience that is dead, and the movie killed us.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:39 AM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Maybe the real Home Alone is the weirdly non-lesthal traps we met along the way...
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:45 AM on December 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


Dumbass suburban white folks is what. They must’ve been neighbors to the Buellers.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 AM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Home Alone is part of my Christmas Canon. I don't understand why people hate it so much.

I hate it because I detest John Hughes with a pure blue flame of loathing, largely (but not entirely) because of the repellent Sixteen Candles, which was so vile in every way that when I saw it at the age of 19 or so, my friends had to restrain me from charging at the screen and punching poor Molly Ringwald in the face (it wasn't her fault that the movie was repellent).

Don't even get me started on Ferris Bueller.
posted by holborne at 9:58 AM on December 26, 2017 [13 favorites]


Is it the pasty skin and general weird head on him?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 10:09 AM on December 26, 2017


Maybe I finally have a reason to see this movie.
posted by Coventry at 10:10 AM on December 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


The second one was on tv yesterday...good lord, what a horror movie. Hard to believe it’s supposed to be for kids.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:18 AM on December 26, 2017


WHY DOES HE SLAP THE STINGING AFTERSHAVE ON TWICE
posted by gottabefunky at 10:35 AM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Maybe I finally have a reason to see this movie.

This thought appeared in my mind. It was strangled, wrapped in a blue tarp and buried in a shallow grave.
posted by Splunge at 10:41 AM on December 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


The second one was on tv yesterday...good lord, what a horror movie. Hard to believe it’s supposed to be for kids.

The first one is just a slapstick comedy where the bad guys operate on Wile E. Coyote rules, but the second is straight-up torture porn.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:50 AM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


In a similar vein, the Santa Clause franchise is darker than you may have realized.
posted by 3zra at 10:55 AM on December 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


> Home Alone is part of my Christmas Canon. I don't understand why people hate it so much.

Simple over-exposure. Especially when the sequels started landing.


I loved it as a kid, and I like John Hughes movies just fine. For me it was going back and being surprised at how awful these people are to each other. I showed it to my kids, and my son wanted to bail on it about 30 minutes in because he's a pretty tender-hearted dude and he could not stomach watching how this family spoke to one another. I had to keep assuring him to hang in there, there's some Bugs Bunny-level fun coming, but that part was a lot shorter than I'd remembered. He enjoyed that part, but it didn't feel worth the slog beforehand when it was all done.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:00 AM on December 26, 2017 [12 favorites]


Home Alone is part of my Christmas Canon. I don't understand why people hate it so much.

I wasn't aware most people hate it. For a mindless family comedy, it's actually pretty good. Same with the equally mindless sequel.
posted by Beholder at 11:00 AM on December 26, 2017


It wasn't Wile E. Coyote, which I loved, though. It was Tom and Jerry. Which I loathed, because it was so fucking cruel, as Simpson's Itchy and Scratchy made clear. They didn't have to up the violence much.

I had a hard time watching this as a kid, also, because of the violence, however fake. And because of his terrible family.

So I prefer the ghost version, honestly.
posted by emjaybee at 11:14 AM on December 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


I vaguely recall some of kind fan theory that posits that Casper the Friendly Ghost is a dead Richie Rich. If this Home Alone ghost tangent needs a boost, check out who played Richie Rich in the film adaptation....
posted by dr_dank at 11:20 AM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


One thing explains Home Alone: crappy writing and no interest by anyone else in the production to fix the crappy writing. Because they know that (not always but frequently) American audiences love crappy writing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:33 AM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Never saw it, since it came out after my seeing Planes, Trains and Automobiles and She's Having a Baby convinced me that John Hughes had devolved to doing movies that tried to redeem themselves with last-reel plot twists. I was also not sure why I'd want to see a movie with an oddly red-lipped boy re-enacting Munch's The Scream.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:50 AM on December 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Home Alone is Die Hard for kids. There I said it.
posted by FJT at 12:08 PM on December 26, 2017 [29 favorites]


Kevin McCallister can't be dead, and here's why: Because he has to grow up to become Jigsaw.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 12:10 PM on December 26, 2017 [9 favorites]


I am going to M. Night Shyamalan Home Alone for you.

This is the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ad version of speculative film criticism.
posted by chavenet at 12:11 PM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Home Alone is Die Hard for kids. There I said it.

At what time on New Years Eve do you have to start the movie so you get the ball drop at midnight?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:46 PM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


I vaguely recall some of kind fan theory that posits that Casper the Friendly Ghost is a dead Richie Rich

Martin, Jeff. "Three Men and a Comic Book." The Simpsons. 9 May 1991.
Lisa: If we don't get to the convention soon, all the good comics will be gone!
Bart: Ah, what do you care about good comics? All you ever buy is Casper the Wimpy Ghost.
Lisa: I think it's sad that you equate friendliness with wimpiness, and I hope it'll keep you from ever achieving true popularity
Bart: Well, you know what I think? I think Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich.
Lisa: Hey, they do look alike!
Bart: Wonder how Richie died.
Lisa: Perhaps he realized how hollow the pursuit of money really is and took his own life.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:09 PM on December 26, 2017 [35 favorites]


Maybe the real Home Alone is the weirdly non-lethal traps we met along the way...

Amusingly, I caught a horror movie on either Netflix or Amazon recently (Better Watch Out) about a precocious tween with a vicious streak, and a plot point is an argument as to whether Kevin's swinging paint-can trap would be a KO blow or a lethal head-cave-in shot.

(He tests it. The recipient is not happy.)
posted by delfin at 1:12 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


I am totally NOT buying "The Plane Ticket Got Thrown Out" bullshit. Those things used to be transferable, and you could resell them directly. They go in the hidden pocket along with the traveler's checks.
posted by mikelieman at 1:15 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


Marv and Harry should have died eight times collectively in that film from injuries that were applied to them. They may not be ghosts, but they certainly are zombies, or revanants.

And I never liked it. Both because of Kevin's privilege (like Ferris Bueller, it is White Privilege: The Movie) and luxury, but also because I couldn't stand the cruelty. Unlike cartoons, I could imagine the scar tissue, the keloid, the sheer and chronic injury of each mutilation done to Harry and Marv. I compulsively cleaned my house for a month, as a child, because I become so afraid of stepping on a nail, a stray ornament, a loose toy.

There are darker films that I'd be willing to show to kids (Labyrinth, Nightmare before Christmas). But not this one. None of the lessons of this film are good ones.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 1:25 PM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


He was always a figment of Cameron's imagination.
posted by boo_radley at 1:38 PM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


The true meaning of Christmas is watching people smugly dunk on Home Alone like they didn’t just throw a wiffle ball through a plastic four-foot Fisher-Price basketball hoop.
posted by invitapriore at 1:54 PM on December 26, 2017 [15 favorites]


the true meaning of christmas is metadunking
posted by entropicamericana at 1:56 PM on December 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


In a similar vein, the Santa Clause franchise is darker than you may have realized.
posted by 3zra at 1:55 PM on December 26


I covered this in another thread.

Can we at least agree that The Santa Clause was a body horror movie?
posted by Splunge at 3:48 PM on November 23

posted by Splunge at 2:05 PM on December 26, 2017


Can we at least agree that The Santa Clause was a body horror movie?
You mean like how that photo in the link shows Tim Allen turning into Data
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:29 PM on December 26, 2017


I'm in the hate camp and it's not even because of over-exposure, because I don't believe I saw this film more than once. It is the horrible over-acting. I mean, I'm no mind reader, but I can infer from the situation how you feel. Roughly. No need to peel your eyebulbs at me, Kevin.

Also, this move came out when I was 14, and it's been insulting my intellect since. I was probably too old for it.

Making Kevin dead does not solve anything - there are still too many plot-holes.
posted by Laotic at 2:45 PM on December 26, 2017


You mean like how that photo in the link shows Tim Allen turning into Data

Well if you've seen the movie, and I'm sad to say I have, it's a thing. Part of the Tim Allen character's becoming Santa entails turning in to Santa. And the physical changes really freak him out. So yeah.
posted by Splunge at 3:44 PM on December 26, 2017


Oddly when I was a kid and saw this at eight or nine, the part that I really disliked was the scare-the-pizza-boy with the Old Gangster Movie. When I was older, though, the sheer meaness of this family started to annoy me. So I started to think of it as a satire on how people in rich families are just mean to each other, for no good reason I could see. I thought it had to be satire because a lot of the movie isn't straight-up slapstick. Unlike the horrendous sequels. Almost, I took it as a comment on the state of the growing dissassociation between people in the 90's, especially among family members. After that the only parts of the movie I truely liked were the way Marley loved his granddaughter, and the stray tarantula. In keeping with the satire/comment idea, he doesn't get to see her much or have a relationship with his son. So in a subtle way the movie is kind of about family ties. The other part I still like is the bit with the loose tarantula. That look of horror and that scream shouldn't make me laugh, but they do.

As far as the violence-without-visible-injuries thing, I believe movie screeners figured out that audiences find this sort of thing funny until they see actual blood, even just a drop. No citation, sorry.

I can't quite go with Kevin-is-actually-dead, but I enjoyed reading this.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 3:49 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


I could even recite the gratuitous scene in which Kevin, as played by Macaulay Culkin, fear-shoplifts a toothbrush that may or may not be approved by the American Dental Association.

It's not gratuitous. The purpose of that scene is to explain why Kevin doesn't go to the police immediately upon discovering the Wet Bandits' plan to rob his house: because he believes he's a wanted criminal.
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:16 PM on December 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


I believe movie screeners figured out that audiences find this sort of thing funny until they see actual blood

In America. Super shockingly not true in Japan, apparently. Ricky-O is supposed to be a comedy?!?
posted by straight at 7:17 PM on December 26, 2017


The author is clearly aware that Kevin McCallister isn't actually dead in the movie. She just thinks it would be better if he were.

Well, I think Home Alone II would be better if Kevin gnawed the flesh from Donald Trump’s bones and put his head on a pike, too. It’s an imperfect world. Screws fall out.

My own pet theory is that the whole movie is a delusion of Kevin’s father, locked in the madhouse for feeding Kevin to the furnace in furtherance of his blasphemous rituals.

(I’ve never actually seen any of them all the way through, so they can be anything I want them to be.)
posted by octobersurprise at 8:32 PM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Kevin has a plane ticket that gets destroyed and accidentally thrown out while they’re eating pizza in the first act. If he’s a ghost, that’s an expensive ritual to appease it.

No one ever sees, acknowledges, or remarks upon the milk-sodden ticket--it gets tossed out with a handful of wet paper towels. Given that the rest of the movie is shot from the perspective of the poltergeist, why should we think that the ticket is anything but a figment of the tortured imagination of a housebound spirit desperate for attention?

This movie came out when I was 7 and I loved it ferociously and now I will take up the mantle of defending Ghost Kevin until my last breath
posted by Mayor West at 6:15 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


Cracked: Die Hard and Home Alone are the exact same movie.
posted by Melismata at 7:51 AM on December 27, 2017


Nah, more like Home Alone and Funny Games are the exact same movie.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I had a different take - Home Alone is best understood in the conservative political context of the late 80s / early 90s, when everyone was in an uproar over working mothers and latchkey kids. (See also, a year or two later, Dan Quayle getting upset over Murphy Brown)
posted by naju at 11:23 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Amusingly, I caught a horror movie on either Netflix or Amazon recently (Better Watch Out) about a precocious tween with a vicious streak, and a plot point is an argument as to whether Kevin's swinging paint-can trap would be a KO blow or a lethal head-cave-in shot.

Highly recommended, by the way - the entire film plays like a wicked inversion of Home Alone.
posted by naju at 11:31 AM on December 27, 2017


> "'Home Alone' is so much better if Kevin McCallister is dead."

Well, obviously, but I don't see why that's a particularly new idea or --

Oh, you meant dead but still in the movie anyway.
posted by kyrademon at 12:53 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


This movie came out when I was 7 and I loved it ferociously and now I will take up the mantle of defending Ghost Kevin until my last breath

Why stop there? There are probably whole Ghost Forums dedicated to this sort of thing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:56 AM on December 28, 2017


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