This is my finale blog post for 2016. I'm wrapping things up here and getting ready for whatever weirdness I'll bring to 2017 or whatever weirdness 2017 brings me. Figured I'd end this with a bang by making the most unabashedly ridiculous blog post of my blogging career. I'll be back on New Year's with, something, I guess.
Adult life is great on one end (i can have ice cream for dinner whenever I want), but it comes at a cost. (Many costs actually. Like having to also buy the ice cream) Christmas just isn't what it used to be. Don't get my wrong, it's still fun and wonderful. It's just, I'm more aware of things now. First off, I work alot. Days of the week are sort of irrelevant now; I have no class schedule, just one schedule, a schedule that doesn't really change. That makes the year move a little quicker than I would like, which means that every time I watch a Christmas movie, I feel like I just watched it a few weeks ago (when in fact it was an entire year ago).
This sort of Christmas movie memory retention has really opened my eyes to the absolute strangeness of many Christmas movies. You know, Scrooged, Christmas Vacation, Muppets Christmas Carol, etc. Today, however, I'm going to get deep into the oddities of Home Alone. More specifically, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. Home Alone is the far superior (which is a generous to say the least) of the two. My argument is that there is no perceptible difference between the two films other than the setting, so it all comes out to preference.
To the naked eye, Home Alone is all about a neglected child who runs into mischief, and turns out is smarter than any of the adults accompanying him in the film. It's funny, Christmas-y, and heart-warming. Perfect family Christmas film.
Before I continue, I want to stress that this isn't a critique of the Home Alone series of films (although I've only seen the first two, canonical films). Obviously this movie is meant for kids, so there are some exaggeratory touches all over this movie. What I want to talk about it the conceptual implications that the universe of Kevin McCallister represents.
What is Home Alone really about?
Could it be about the Wet Bandits doomed to some sort of Sisyphean Hell? (They seem to be repeating the same mistakes time and time again, however, they can't be killed)
Could it be about terrible parenting?
A young psychopath in training? (No sane person is capable of the booby traps that Kevin devises)
Or could it be an extremely clunky, Hollywood tale about a mother's love? (This is only indicated by the first scene with Kevin responding to his mother with his TalkBoy, and one of the final scenes when she finds him in Rockefeller Center looking at the giant tree. Other than that, you would have no idea that they even knew each other)
You probably are still unsure of my motivation to focus on the second Home Alone film. My watching of this movie is greatly enhanced by what I call the "scenario theory". The "scenario theory" is the belief that Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York didn't both happen. Home Alone went down when Kevin got left at home, Home Alone 2 happens in a world where Kevin makes it to the airport. Support for this theory comes in a small quote by his mother in the "sequel" where she tells the police "He wouldn't know how to use a credit card." If the first Home Alone happened she would know he's actually smarter than all of them put together. (it's an extremely thin theory)
Listen, I know none of this is true, but if you watch it this way, the New York one is the better of the two. Oh yeah, and Tim Curry is in it.
The most shocking realization I had in my adulthood viewing is that most of the people in this movie are bad people.
By bad people, I mean the Wet Bandits right? I mean all of them. Everyone in this movie aside from 2 people and 1 surprising reveal, are bad people.
The Parents: Clearly, these parents are terrible. I mean, should you watch the movies in the way they were intended, they had forgotten about their son 3 times. (at the end of "2" he runs out of the hotel to see the pigeon lady and no one notices) In Home Alone 2, they seem to be aware of the possibility of losing him, but still treat him like crap along the way. Then after losing him, they crack jokes to the police, instead of seeming like the devastated parents they should be.
Tim Curry and the Hotel Staff: First thing that surprises me about this interaction is Tim Curry and the entire staff's distrust the minute--no, the second, Kevin walks into the Plaza Hotel. It's as if they have never seen a kid walking around before; as if the Plaza Hotel has a sign on the door that says "No Kids Allowed". Kevin is instantly on their radar, and not in a concerned, "where are your parents, little boy?" type way, but a, "I'm going to take you down" type of way. Even the parents call Tim Curry out for his unreasonable intentions:
"I discovered the stolen credit card, it was me." Tim Curry raises his hand and smiles smugly
"And you let him run away?" Kevin's mom shouts in disbelief
Tim Curry sweats, "Um, yes."
He catches Kevin with his dad's stolen credit card, and then what? He has the police drag a ten year old boy off to the pokey? Somehow, he gets his whole staff in on this, and what they all seem to want is some sort of Old Testament style justice.
And finally, The Wet Bandits: Their intentions aren't that difficult to figure out, but they are insane to say the least. Kevin McCallister gets them thrown in jail, they escape, come to one of the most populated cities in the world, run into the kid that got them arrested, confront him once more, and then attempt to rob a toy store so they can, uh, go into hiding I guess?
It seems clear that in these confrontations with their ultimate rival, they want to kill him. In one of the most populated cities in the world. Oh yeah, in the first movie, they were so intent on robbing a house (in a neighborhood of other perfectly good houses) that they were willing to kill a child to, I guess steal some jewelry or something. Now, they see Kevin walking around NYC and decide that they need to kill him. To make their bloodlust even stronger, Kevin catches them in the act of robbing the toy store, which makes them so full of adrenaline that they can't be killed (no matter how child-focused this movie is supposed to be, the live action Tom and Jerry violence gets absurd and weirdly adult).
When I talk about bad people in this movie, I also include Kevin's siblings and his aunt and uncle (who seem to be total freeloaders on Kevin's dad's immense wealth). They are some of the most selfish cretins I've watched on film.
Let's talk about the good people (There are 3)
Kevin is not counted with the good or the bad, because he really is being pulled by either side. One minute, he's a terrorist sociopath, and the next, he's saving a children's hospital. This struggle is clearly due to the surrounding adults in the film.
E.F. Duncan: That's right, the toy man. There's really nothing to see here. He's an old man with a heart of gold that loves children. I would believe you if you told me that he was a character from an episode of Touched By Angel.
Pigeon Lady: Here we have the original Humans of New York, a seemingly homeless woman with a Facebook-caption length story to tell. Like the creepy old man with the shovel in the first film, she also appears to be quite a looming figure until Kevin takes the time to get to know her. She has much wisdom and is kind to the boy. Her meeting on top of Duncan's kindness is what drives Kevin to save the day. Also, she is the hero of the film. As Kevin is having a gun pointed at him, Pigeon Lady sends her pigeon fleets to take out the Wet Bandits piranha style.
For the longest time, I could only think of two decent adults in this movie, and then it dawned on me. Who was the only other adult that took the time to treat Kevin like a human being, if only for a moment?
That's right, none other than our President-elect of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump.
Between this cameo and the moment with the two towers, this has aged to become a truly surreal movie. I found many unexpected emotions popping up throughout. Just wait until the Trump presidency gets going and eventually ends; this small cameo could take on even more meaning.
So, what is this movie actually about? Well, I may have a different answer next year than I do this year. Let's be real, Home Alone was only every cherished because it's a Christmas movie, because both films are pretty bad. Clearly, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was about making money off a successful formula, this time containing a popular set piece and some shiny new actors (Tim Curry). Despite that, it somehow became rich with meaning only now, in 2016. Once possibly described as hands off, but acceptable parenting is now terrible and possibly even abusive parenting. An image of McCaulay Culkin staring in awe of the twin towers, and then another shot of him standing on top of one, overlooking the city is a strangely pregnant scene. An unassuming cameo of a New York billionaire has become indescribably odd. The idea that two run of the mill burglars are so willing to become child killers went from a 60 Minutes-type story to great fodder for the next great Netflix docu-series. This movie changes with time in a way that most movies don't. It's as if the creators could see the future and knew exactly what to point out for future viewers of the film.
I have a lot of fun theories about what Home Alone could be, but here's what it's actually about: a kid that is surrounded by bad people at every turn, but finds light in the most unlikely of places. That search for light is what keeps him going, and what keeps him alive. It's belief in hope, no matter what stands stands in front of you, or who leaves you behind. Really, aren't we all "home alone"? That may be sappy, but since this movie reminds us what we have gone through and what we will be going through as a nation it's so much heavier. I am Kevin McCallister, you are Kevin McCallister, we are all Kevin McCallister.
Not to be over-serious about this ultimately, stupid, but fun film, I just felt some strange things watching it this time around. It's weird to revisit things from childhood and see how truly crazy and messed up some of the stuff I watched actually was.
Being an adult makes Christmas weird.