I don’t know about anyone else, but as a kid, there were many times I wanted the house to my self. No annoying sibling or mean parents. Just me and the house. With everyone gone, every meal could have consisted of Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I could have stayed up as late as I wanted, and woken up whenever I wanted. And of course, I could watch television anytime I wanted. I could watch cartoons all morning, flip back and forth between game shows all afternoon, and even watch scary movies at night. But while all that sounds fun, I don’t think my younger self would have wanted the entire house to himself for a week like Kevin in the 1990 movie Home Alone.
For those that haven’t watched the movie, MacCaulay Culkin played young Kevin McCallister, a kid who was mistakenly left behind by his family while they jetted off to Paris for Christmas vacation. Initially, Kevin is excited, but things quickly go downhill when he has to fend off a home invasion. There was a sequel in which-guess what-he was forgotten again (his father and mother will never get an award for Parents of the Year). Both movies captivated audiences with the creative Rube Goldberg-style traps designed by Kevin to thwart the would-be thieves. Unfortunately, while some of the traps were creative and relatively harmless, some were downright vicious. I realize Kevin is the protagonist and the audience is supposed to cheer on his efforts to defend himself and his home, but even though the comedy is slapstick, several of the gags are cruel. More than once, Kevin seems to take some measure of glee from the pain he inflicts on the thieves. Viewers are clearly meant to empathize with Kevin, to root for him as he defends himself, and cheer him on as he continually eludes the thieves. In the process though, the methods he uses become more and more extreme and sadistic. And that’s where my problem lies. It’s one thing to do what you have to in order to survive or defend yourself, but devising complex booby traps to stop criminals and taking glee in their pain is quite discomfiting. The suffering of others isn’t really funny to me, even when those others are criminals and even when the movie is clearly not meant to be taken seriously.
In contrast, this short film featuring Macaulay Culkin (reprising his role as Kevin, years after the events of the first two Home Alone movies) doesn’t bother me as much as the Home Alone movies. The audience is clearly not meant to laugh maniacally along with Kevin as he details what he’s going to do to the would-be thief. A big difference between Home Alone and this clip is tone. Home Alone is, first and foremost, a comedy. This film is more of a drama/thriller and one that [mostly] treats the subject matter with seriousness.
(btw, this probably isn’t suitable for work)
I can totally see how the events in his childhood might have done lasting emotional and psychological harm to Kevin and I think Culkin’s performance here is really quite good.