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Christmas Classic: Home Alone

Copyright 20th Century Fox

It feels strange to have to justify watching Home Alone at Christmas. In my house, it’s almost a tradition, not being old enough to qualify for that mature term but watched every year nonetheless.

Directed by Christopher Columbus (who gave us the first two Harry Potter films, in case you didn’t know), produced by John Hughes (80’s Brat Pack master and general genius when it comes to the coming-of-age genre) and with an iconic score by John Williams, this movie is family viewing gold.

Now that I’m older, I sympathise with Catherine O’Hara’s ‘Mom’ instead of Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin (though I still like him and he is adorable). This sympathy does not extend to the villains of the piece, criminals Harry and Marv (played brilliantly by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), which is why the comedy works even for adults. Watching Kevin outsmart the dynamic duo, who dub themselves the ‘wet bandits’ because they flood the homes they steal from, is slapstick genius; Kevin is resourceful, ruthless and yet naïve –at no point does he aim to maim or kill his opponents, he just wants to protect his family’s home. And we want him to succeed whether we like him or not. Audiences can laugh without guilt as Harry and Marv are tripped, whacked, and, at one point, set on fire.

But beneath the slapstick is a heart-warming message about the importance of family and love at Christmastime, and the film delivers this without becoming overly sentimental. Kevin learns to appreciate the family he had previously taken for granted, and, in particular, realises how much he loves his mother. Fans of this year’s John Lewis advert will also admire Kevin’s friendship with an elderly local resident, whom he encourages to reconnect with his estranged son.

The sequel, Lost in New York, is just as good, if not better, so also worth a watch. Just steer clear of sequels 3, 4, and 5.