With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “Home Alone”
Before he started partying with Michael Jackson and making bad movies with Ted Danson and enraging men the world over by somehow dating Mila Kunis, Macaulay Culkin was winning America's heart as Kevin McAllister, the precocious eight-year-old (is there any other kind of eight-year-old in Hollywood movies?) who liked plain cheese pizza and foiling idiot burglars. "Home Alone" grossed $476 million worldwide and stands as the last classic movie in director/producer John Hughes' filmography. In fact, you can blame "Home Alone" for inspiring Hughes to spend the rest of his career producing lowbrow kiddie fare like "Baby's Day Out".
But let's not go piling on. "Home Alone" may have foisted Chris Columbus upon the world and, in hindsight, ruined Culkin's childhood. But it's also a fine holiday perennial, beloved by audiences for its perfect blend of slapstick comedy and weepy Christmas sentimentality. Let's see if it's okay for your little ones to watch by considering a few factors":
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Yes. One of the reasons that "Home Alone" was so successful was, thanks to Hughes' deft touch, the kids in the movie look and act like real kids, which never happens in modern movies. All of that goes out the window toward the end, when Culkin is able to set up elaborate Rube Goldberg traps for his would-be assailants. But in the beginning, there's enough rancor and petty arguing to make the McAllisters a convincing real-life family. That's what gets you rooting for Culkin once all the goofy hijinks begin.
The Dead Parent Factor: None, though "Home Alone" does introduce issues such as parental abandonment and neglect. It's Catherine O'Hara as Kevin's mom that serves as the emotional linchpin of the whole thing, going through the familiar parental cycle of being frustrated with your kid and then being overwhelmed with guilt afterward. Her reunion with Culkin at the end will have you BAWLING, especially with that John Williams score blaring in the background. Stupid John Williams. Must you tug on my heartstrings so?
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: None.
The Scare Factor: Minimal. Director Columbus goes out of his way to make Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern the least imposing burglars in the history of cinema. In David Fincher's hands, this would have been a horror movie, with Pesci putting Culkin's head in a vice at the end. The only minor scare in the movie comes from that old man Marley next door. But he turns out to be a sweetheart, natch.
The Violence Factor: "Home Alone" is basically a Looney Tunes short come to life. Pesci gets shot in the groin. Stern gets an iron to the face. Pesci burns his hair. Stern gets a tarantula on his face. Again, in another director's hands, this is all terrifying. In this movie? HILARIOUS.
Age Range: 4 and up. You don't want your little ones thinking it's okay to nail each other with paint cans. But otherwise, "Home Alone" is a fairly inoffensive movie. Also, it'll make them hug mom at the end. She'll like that.