Watch Home Alone (1990), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want to Know About a Great Movie
Home Alone (1990)
An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.
- Chris Columbus
- John Hughes
Home Alone is a 1990 American Christmas comedy film directed by Chris Columbus and written and produced by John Hughes. The first film in the Home Alone franchise, the film stars Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Catherine O’Hara. Culkin plays Kevin McCallister, a boy who defends his suburban Chicago home from burglars after his family accidentally leaves him behind on their Christmas vacation to Paris.
Hughes conceived Home Alone while on vacation, with Warner Bros. being originally intended to finance and distribute the film. However, Warner Bros. shut down production after it exceeded its assigned budget. 20th Century Fox assumed responsibilities following secret meetings with Hughes. Columbus and Culkin were hired soon afterwards. Filming took place between February and May 1990 on location across Illinois.
Home Alone premiered in Chicago on November 10, 1990, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 16, and it received positive reviews, with praise for its cast, humor, and music. Home Alone grossed $476.7 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing live-action comedy until the release of The Hangover Part II (2011), and made Culkin a child star.
Moreover, it was the second-highest-grossing film of 1990, behind Ghost. It was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Culkin, and for the Academy Award for Best Original Score for John Williams, and Best Original Song for “Somewhere in My Memory”. Home Alone has since been considered one of the best Christmas films. A sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, was released in 1992.
Home Alone (1990) Trailer
Home Alone (1990) Reviews
“Home Alone” is about an 8-year-old hero who does all of those things, but unfortunately he also single-handedly stymies two house burglars by booby-trapping the house. And they’re the kinds of traps that any 8-year-old could devise, if he had a budget of tens of thousands of dollars and the assistance of a crew of movie special effects people.
If “Home Alone” had limited itself to the things that might possibly happen to a forgotten 8-year-old, I think I would have liked it more. What I didn’t enjoy was the subplot involving the burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), who are immediately spotted by little Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), and made the targets of his cleverness.
The movie opens in the Chicago suburbs with a houseful of people on the eve of a big family Christmas vacation in Paris. There are relatives and kids everywhere, and when the family oversleeps and has to race to the airport, Kevin is somehow overlooked in the shuffle. When he wakes up later that morning, the house is empty. So he makes the best of it.
A real kid would probably be more frightened than this movie character, and would probably cry. He might also try calling someone, or asking a neighbor for help. But in the contrived world of this movie, the only neighbor is an old coot who is rumored to be the Snow Shovel Murderer, and the phone doesn’t work. When Kevin’s parents discover they’ve forgotten him, they find it impossible to get anyone to follow through on their panicked calls – if anyone did so, the movie would be over.
The plot is so implausible that it makes it hard for us to really care about the plight of the kid. What works in the other direction, however, and almost carries the day, is the gifted performance by young Macaulay Culkin, as Kevin. Culkin is the little boy who co-starred with John Candy in “Uncle Buck,” and here he has to carry almost the whole movie.
He has lots of challenging acting scenes, and he’s up to them. I’m sure he got lots of help from director Chris Columbus, but he’s got the stuff to begin with. He’s such a confident and gifted little actor that I’d like to see him in a story I could care more about.
“Home Alone” isn’t that story. When the burglars invade Kevin’s home, they find themselves running a gamut of booby traps so elaborate they could have been concocted by Rube Goldberg – or by the berserk father in “Last House on the Left.” Because all plausibility is gone, we sit back, detached, to watch stunt men and special effects guys take over a movie that promised to be the kind of story audiences could identify with.
Home Alone (1990) Credits
Home Alone (1990)
MacAulay Culkin as Kevin
Joe Pesci as Harry
Daniel Stern as Marv
John Heard as Peter
Roberts Blossom as Marley
Catherine O’Hara as Kate
John Candy as Gus Polinski
- John Williams
- Julio Macat
- Chris Columbus
- Raja Gosnell
Written and Produced by
- John Hughes
Home Alone (1990) Plot
The McCallister family is preparing to spend Christmas in Paris, gathering at Peter and Kate’s home in a Chicago suburb on the night before their departure. Peter and Kate’s youngest son, Kevin, is the subject of ridicule by his older siblings and cousins. Kevin inadvertently ruins the family dinner after a brief scuffle against his oldest brother Buzz, resulting in Kate sending him up to the attic.
Kevin berates his mother for allowing the rest of the family to pick on him and wishes that his family would disappear. During the night, heavy winds create a power outage, disabling the alarm clocks and causing the family to oversleep. In the confusion and rush to get to the airport, Kevin is accidentally left behind.
Kevin wakes to find the house empty. Thinking that his wish has come true, he is overjoyed with his newfound freedom. Later, Kevin becomes frightened by his next door neighbor, “Old Man” Marley, who is rumored by the local children to be a serial killer who murdered his own family.
The McCallister home is soon stalked by the “Wet Bandits”, Harry Lyme and Marv Murchins, a pair of burglars who have been breaking into other vacant houses in the neighborhood. Kevin tricks them into thinking that his family is still home, forcing them to postpone their plans to rob the McCallister house.
Kate realizes mid-flight that Kevin was left behind, and upon arrival in Paris, the family discovers that all flights for the next two days are booked, and that the phone lines are still down back home. Peter and the rest of the family stay in his brother’s apartment in Paris, while Kate manages to get a flight back to Scranton, Pennsylvania. She attempts to find a flight to Chicago, but all the flights are booked. Kate is overheard by Gus Polinski, the lead member of a traveling polka band, who offers to let her travel with them to Chicago in a moving van.
Meanwhile, Harry and Marv finally realize that only Kevin is in the McCallister home, and on Christmas Eve, Kevin overhears them discussing plans to break into the house that night. Kevin starts to miss his family and asks the local Santa Claus impersonator if he could bring his family back for Christmas.
He goes to church and watches a choir perform, and encounters Marley. Marley proves the rumors about him are false, and points out his granddaughter in the choir; He has never met her, as she is the daughter of his estranged son. Kevin suggests to Marley that he should reconcile with his son.
Kevin returns home and rigs the house with booby traps. Harry and Marv break in, spring the traps, and suffer various injuries. While Harry and Marv pursue Kevin around the house, he calls the police and lures the duo into a neighboring house which they had previously broke into.
Harry and Marv ambush Kevin and prepare to get their revenge, but Marley intervenes and knocks them unconscious with his snow shovel. The police arrive and arrest Harry and Marv, having identified all the houses that they broke into due to Marv’s destructive habit of flooding them.
On Christmas Day, Kevin is initially disappointed to find that his family is still gone, although Kate arrives home and they reconcile. The rest of the family soon returns after waiting in Paris until they could obtain a direct flight to Chicago. Kevin keeps silent about his encounter with Harry and Marv, although Peter finds Harry’s knocked-out gold tooth. Kevin then watches Marley reuniting with his son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. Marley notices Kevin, and they wave to each other.
Home Alone (1990) Box office
Home Alone grossed $285.8 million in the United States and Canada and $190.9 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $476.7 million, against a production budget of $18 million. In its opening weekend, Home Alone grossed $17 million from 1,202 theaters, averaging $14,211 per site and just 6% of the final total and added screens over the next six weeks, with a peak screen count of 2,174 during its eighth weekend at the start of January 1991.
Home Alone was the number-one film at the box office for 12 consecutive weeks, from its release weekend of November 16–18, 1990 through the weekend of February 1–3, 1991. It was removed from the top spot when Sleeping with the Enemy opened with $13 million. It remained in the top ten until the weekend of April 26, well past Easter weekend. It made two more appearances in the top ten (the weekend of May 31 – June 2 and the weekend of June 14–16) before finally falling out of the top ten.
After over nine months into its run, the film had earned 16x its debut weekend and ended up making a final gross of $285,761,243, the top-grossing film of its year in North America. The film is listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever and held the record until it was overtaken by The Hangover Part II in 2011.
By the time the film had run its course in theaters, Home Alone was the third-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, as well as in the United States and Canada behind only Star Wars ($322 million at the time) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ($399 million at the time), according to the home video box. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 67.7 million tickets in the United States. It was also the highest-grossing Christmas film until it was surpassed by Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch in 2018. The film made Culkin a child star.
Home Alone (1990) Critical Response
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 67% based on 61 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Home Alone uneven but frequently funny premise stretched unreasonably thin is buoyed by Macaulay Culkin’s cute performance and strong supporting stars.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 based on 9 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale.
Variety magazine praised the film for its cast. Jeanne Cooper of The Washington Post praised the film for its comedic approach. Hal Hinson, also of The Washington Post, praised Columbus’ direction and Culkin’s performance. Although Caryn James of The New York Times complained that the film’s first half is “flat and unsurprising as its cute little premise suggests”, she praised the second half for its slapstick humor. She also praised the dialogue between Kevin and Marley, as well as the film’s final scenes.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a 2+1⁄2 out of a 4-star rating and 2 thumbs down. He compared the elaborate booby-traps in the film to Rube Goldberg machines, writing “they’re the kinds of traps that any 8-year-old could devise, if he had a budget of tens of thousands of dollars and the assistance of a crew of movie special effects people” and criticized the plot as “so implausible that it makes it hard for [him] to really care about the plight of the kid [Kevin]”. However, he praised Culkin’s performance.
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly magazine gave the film a “D” grade, criticizing the film for its “sadistic festival of adult-bashing”. Gleiberman said that “[John] Hughes is pulling our strings as though he’d never learn to do anything else”. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film three out of five and praised Culkin’s “vivid screen presence, almost incandescent with confidence”.
However, he criticised his acting, calling it “a bit broad and mannered”. Ali Barclay of the BBC wrote “Culkin walks a fine line between annoyance and endearment throughout the film.” He also called Home Alone “a film which manages to capture some of the best qualities of Christmas”.
Naomi Barnwell of Roobla said that “Home Alone has all the ingredients that make for a great kids’ film”. Adrian Turner of Radio Times commented “[Home Alone is] a celebration of enterprise that captured the heart and wickedness of every child on the planet.” According to TV Guide, “[Home Alone]’s slapstick falls flat and only the pain remains.”
Marielle Sabbag of Vocal wrote “Everything about [Home Alone] is beautiful and has a realistic quality.” Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times criticised the fact that “there is a reason why this film plays better as a trailer than as a full-length film.”
Home Alone gradually became a Christmas classic. It was praised for its quotable phrases, morals, traps, and main character. Hannah-Rose Yee of Stylist called the ending “very sweet” and praised the score from John Williams, calling it “fantastic”. Christopher Hooton of The Independent also praised the film, calling the film-within-a-film Angels with Filthy Souls “a fond footnote in cinema history”.
Matt Talbot from Simcoe.com said that the Wet Bandits were “fantastic” and “never [got] old” on “repeat viewings”. Michael Walsh of Nerdist noted the church scene as “One of the best, most touching scenes [in the film]”.
Home Alone remains a highly popular Christmas movie in Poland, when it is played on Polsat every Christmas Eve. In 2010, Polsat did not play Home Alone, which caused over 90 thousand people to protest on Facebook. In 2016, over 4.44 million Poles tuned in to Polsat to watch Home Alone. Since the 2010s, its TV trailers even include a tagline that acknowledges this popularity: “Christmas without him? It’s absolutely impossible!”.
Home Alone (1990) Accolades
At the 12th Youth in Film Awards, Macaulay Culkin won Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Original Score, which was written by John Williams, and the other for Best Original Song for “Somewhere in My Memory”, music by Williams and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, but lost to Dances with Wolves and Dick Tracy respectively.
|Academy Awards||Best Original Score||John Williams||Nominated|
|Best Original Song||“Somewhere in My Memory”
Music by John Williams;
Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
|American Comedy Awards||Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)||Macaulay Culkin||Won|
|Artios Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Casting – Comedy||Jane Jenkins and Jane Hirshenson||Won|
|BMI Film & TV Awards||Film Music Award||John Williams||Won|
|British Comedy Awards||Best Comedy Film||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Most Promising Actor||Macaulay Culkin||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Macaulay Culkin||Nominated|
|Golden Screen Awards||Won|
|Grammy Awards||Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television||“Somewhere in My Memory”
Music by John Williams;
Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
|Kids’ Choice Awards||Favorite Movie||Won|
|Online Film & Television Association Awards||Hall of Fame – Motion Picture||Won|
|Young Artist Awards||Most Entertaining Family Youth Motion Picture – Comedy/Action||Won|
|Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture||Macaulay Culkin||Won|
|Best Young Actress Supporting Role in a Motion Picture||Angela Goethals||Nominated|
Home Alone (1990) Movie Info
Genre:Kids & Family, Holiday, Comedy
Release Date (Theaters):Wide
Release Date (Streaming):
Box Office (Gross USA):$281.5M
Distributor:20th Century Fox
Sound Mix:Dolby, Surround
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