12 Days Of Christmas: Day 4 Chris Faers December 13, 2021 Features 2232 The â€˜One For All The Familyâ€™ Christmas Film Home Alone (1990) If you summarise Home Alone in a nutshell, a young boy left to his own devices who lays a series of traps to protect his house from two wanted criminals, youâ€™d be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of horror film. After all, intentional or not, Wes Craven saw this potential, taking elements from Home Alone to put into â€˜The People Under Stairsâ€™. But lets face it; who hasnâ€™t seen Home Alone? It was the second biggest hit of 1990 (after Jerry Zuckerâ€™s Ghost) and has enjoyed massive longevity thanks to television and home video/DVD. Less so nowadays, but itâ€™s surprising how many people still donâ€™t class it as a Christmas film. Itâ€™s understandable to a point, especially when the first things you associate with it are Macaulay Culkin, its humour and the over-the-top slapstick. Children will always love it for the escapism it provides; what kid doesnâ€™t watch this film and imagine themselves in Kevinâ€™s shoes? Itâ€™s pure fantasy in a real world setting. Everyone seems to be charmed by Kevin, or more accurately, Culkin. He is just so damn adorable and a contender for the cutest kid in film history. Naturally charming, Culkin manages to find the balance between angelic, resilient and bratty throughout. In fact, heâ€™s outright impudent at the beginning. So much so that even as a kid I was on his parentsâ€™ side when he gets sent to bed early. It has the funny jokes and one-liners, clever set-ups and the Laurel and Hardy slapstick that would lead to death in any other genre, but all of these points have little to do with what makes it a staple in many households every Christmas. First thereâ€™s the look; it oozes Christmas: snow covered streets, endless Christmas lights and the pure abundance of green and red would charm even the most miserable of Scrooges. Secondly thereâ€™s John Williamsâ€™ score, which has to go down as one of his most underrated. Arguably down to using the established tone, style and arrangements youâ€™ll hear in every Christmas score, but Williams takes the formula and puts his stamp on it: keeping it simple, adding the whimsy you associate with the great manâ€™s works, but never going to far with it. From sombre, to eerie to outright joyous, Williamsâ€™ finger is on the pulse, creating an eclectic score with pieces that perfectly enhance the required tone of each scene, with â€˜Somewhere In My Memoryâ€™ as the obvious standout number. The obvious argument here is thereâ€™s no need for the film to be set at Christmas, and youâ€™d be right. Using Christmas can be seen be manipulative tactic. But the third and most important aspect is what Home Alone is really all about: family. We watch Kevin have a blast for the bulk of the film, but we see his heartache and regret, especially with little touches like putting everyoneâ€™s stocking out in the hope heâ€™ll see them again or that look on his face when he runs downstairs to no one on Christmas Day. We also see a real family, granted maybe an unnecessarily large one, but they are as genuine a family you will see anywhere. Theyâ€™re not all goody-goody, theyâ€™re not all horrible, they react as siblings and parents would to each other in different situations and circumstances. The whole family is on-point, with especially fun performances from Gerry Bamman and Devin Ratray as Uncle Frank and Buzz, but the obvious stand out is Catherine O’Haraâ€™s as Kevinâ€™s Mom, Kate. Played straight to begin with, Oâ€™Hara then nails the fluctuating emotions of a woman whoâ€™s left her child alone on the other side of the world. Everything comes across as genuine and sincere, showing the levels of depths and despair a mother would go to, especially with her â€œSelling her soul to the devilâ€ speech, which is funny and heart breaking at the same time. So yes, the Christmas elements may be slightly manipulative, but you could say that about any Christmas flick. â€˜Itâ€™s a Wonderful Lifeâ€™ is a classic, but only a third of that is set at Christmas with no necessary reason to be. Home Alone ticks all the boxes you associate with a holiday picture: laughs, tears, family-centric, sentimental, festive soundtrack/score, a cheerful conclusion and an overall festive ambience in look and tone. It has many, many plot holes, but it works perfectly regardless, and without the festive elements, it wouldnâ€™t be half the family film it is.