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Home Alone

Home Alone
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Columbus
Produced by John Hughes
Written by John Hughes
Starring Macaulay Culkin
Joe Pesci
Daniel Stern
John Heard
Catherine O'Hara
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Julio Macat
Edited by Raja Gosnell
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • November 16, 1990 (1990-11-16)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18 million[1]
Box office $476,684,675[1]

Home Alone is a 1990 American Christmas family comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. The film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. Kevin initially relishes being home alone, but soon has to contend with two would-be burglars played by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. The film also features Catherine O'Hara and John Heard as Kevin's parents. As of 2009, Home Alone was the highest-grossing comedy of all time.[2] It spawned a successful franchise, with four sequels and three video games, and with the main cast reprising their roles for the sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Music 3.1
  • Reception 4
    • Box office 4.1
    • Critical response 4.2
    • Accolades 4.3
  • Sequels 5
  • Novelization 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The night before their flight to Paris for a Christmas holiday, the McCallister family gather at the Winnetka, Illinois home of Peter (John Heard) and Kate (Catherine O'Hara) McCallister. Their eight-year-old son, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), is ridiculed by his siblings and cousins. After a fight with his older brother, Buzz (Devin Ratray), Kevin is sent to the third floor of the house, where he wishes that his family would disappear. During the night, a power outage resets the alarm clocks and causes the family to oversleep. In the confusion and rush to reach their flight on time, Kevin is left behind and the family is unaware until they're already airborne. Once in Paris, both Peter and Kate desperately try to book a flight home, but find all the flights booked for the next two days. The clerks put Kate on standby for any possible seat opening. The rest of the family goes to their relative's home in Paris.

Meanwhile, Kevin wakes up to find the house empty and is overjoyed with his new freedom. The Chicago Police Department arrive to check on Kevin but are unable to locate him. Kevin's joy soon turns to fear as he deals with his next door neighbor, "Old Man" Marley (Roberts Blossom), (who is rumored to have murdered his family in 1958) and two burglars, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) (the "Wet Bandits"), who are burglarizing the neighborhood's vacant homes and have targeted the McCallisters. Kevin keeps the duo at bay by tricking them into thinking the house is still inhabited, but they eventually realize that Kevin is home alone.

Kate gets a flight to the United States, only to end up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She tries to book a flight to Chicago but they are, again, all booked. Kate refuses to accept the situation, and she is overheard by Gus Polinski (John Candy), the lead member of a traveling polka band, who offers to let her travel with them to Chicago on their way to Milwaukee in a moving van, which she happily accepts.

On Christmas Eve, Kevin overhears Harry and Marv discussing plans for breaking into his house that night. Kevin goes to church and watches a choir perform. Marley sits beside Kevin and the pair talk; he learns that Marley is actually a nice person and that the rumors about him are false. He tells Kevin he is watching the choir because his granddaughter is in it, but he never gets to see her because he and his son had a major falling out many years ago, and have been on non-speaking terms since; Kevin suggests that he try to reconcile with his son.

Kevin returns home and rigs the house with numerous booby traps. Harry and Marv break in, springing the traps and suffering various injuries. While the duo closes in on Kevin, he calls the police and escapes the house into a neighboring vacant home. Harry and Marv manage to catch him and discuss how they will get their revenge, but Marley sneaks in and knocks them out with his snow shovel before they can do anything to Kevin. Harry and Marv are arrested and connected to multiple other burglaries because of Marv's habit of flooding the houses that he and Harry have burglarized.

On Christmas Day, Kevin is disappointed to find that his family is still gone. He then hears Kate enter the house and call for him; they reconcile and are quickly joined by the rest of the McCallisters, who waited in Paris until they could get a direct flight to Chicago. Kevin keeps silent about his encounter with Harry and Marv, although Peter finds Harry's missing gold tooth. Kevin then observes Marley reuniting with his son and his family. Marley notices Kevin and the pair acknowledge each other before Marley and his family go home. Buzz suddenly calls out, "Kevin, what did you do to my room?!" at which point Kevin runs off.


  • Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an energetic eight-year-old boy who is the youngest son of the McCallister family. He can be obnoxious and annoying, but he is proven to be extremely clever and resourceful.
  • Joe Pesci as Harry, the short leader of the Wet Bandits. He is intelligent but short tempered and ruthless.
  • Daniel Stern as Marv, the tall member of the Wet Bandits. The dimmer of the Wet Bandits, he has a childlike enthusiasm for toys and likes to leave the water running to 'mark' the houses they have robbed.
  • John Heard as Peter McCallister, Kevin's father.
  • Catherine O'Hara as Kate McCallister, Kevin's mother.
  • Roberts Blossom as Kevin's elderly neighbor Old Man Marley.

The rest of the McCallister family is portrayed by: Devin Ratray as Buzz and Mike Maronna as Jeff, Kevin's brothers; Hillary Wolf as Megan and Angela Goethals as Linnie, Kevin's sisters; Gerry Bamman as Uncle Frank; Terrie Snell as Aunt Leslie; and Kevin's cousins are portrayed by Jedidiah Cohen as Rod, Senta Moses as Tracy, Daiana Campeanu as Sondra, Kieran Culkin as Fuller, Anna Slotky as Brooke, and Kristin Minter as Heather. The cast also includes: John Candy as Gus Polinski, "the Polka King of the Midwest"; Ralph Foody as Johnny, a gangster who appears in the fictional film "Angels with Filthy Souls"; Larry Hankin as Larry Balzak, a police sergeant who works in family crisis; and Ken Hudson Campbell as a man dressed as Santa Claus.


Home Alone house in Winnetka, Illinois

Home Alone was initially a Warner Bros. production; when 20th Century Fox took over the project, the budget grew from $14 to $17 million.[3]

Home Alone was set—and mostly shot—in the greater Chicago area. Other shots, such as those of Paris, are either stock footage or film trickery. The Paris-Orly Airport scenes were filmed in one part of O'Hare International Airport. The scene where Kevin wades through a flooded basement when trying to outsmart the burglars was shot in the swimming pool of New Trier High School. A mock-up of the McDonnell Douglas DC10 business class was also put together in the school, on the basketball courts.[4]

Some scenes were shot in a three-story single-family house located at 671 Lincoln Avenue[5] in the village of Winnetka,[6] The kitchen in the film was shot in the house, along with the main staircase, basement and most of the first floor landing. The house's dining room, and all the downstairs rooms (excluding the kitchen) were built on a sound stage.[7] The house was built in 1921 and features five bedrooms, a fully converted attic, a detached double garage and a greenhouse.[8] "Kevin's tree house" in the backyard was built specifically for the film and demolished after principal photography ended.

In May 2011, the house was listed for sale at $2.4 million;[9] it sold in March 2012 for $1.585 million.[5] The house is promoted as a tourist attraction[10] and cited as an example of "How to Get Your Home in the Movies."[11]


The film score of Home Alone was composed by John Williams. Christmas songs, such as "O Holy Night" and "Carol of the Bells", are featured prominently in the film, as well as the film's theme song "Somewhere in My Memory". The soundtrack was released by Sony Classical in 1990.


Box office

In its opening weekend, Home Alone grossed $17 million in 1,202 theaters, averaging $14,211 per site and just 6% of the final total. Home Alone proved so popular that it stayed in theaters well past the Christmas season. It was the No. 1 film at the box office for 12 straight weeks, from its release weekend of November 16–18, 1990 through the weekend of February 1–3, 1991.[12] It remained a top ten draw at the box office until the weekend of April 26 that year, which was 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.[13] The film ended up making a final gross of $285,761,243, the top grossing film of its year in North America.[14] The film is listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever.[2]

By the time it had run its course in theaters, Home Alone was the third highest-grossing film of all time, according to the home video box. In total, its cinema run grossed $477,561,243 worldwide.[15]

According to William Goldman the film's success prompted the creation of a Hollywood verb: "to be Home Aloned, meaning to have film's box office potential affected by the impact of Home Alone. Examples of movies that were Home Aloned include Three Men and a Little Lady and Kindergarten Cop.[16]

Critical response

Home Alone holds a 54% approval rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 41 reviews with an average rating of 5.2/10.[17] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, it has a rating score of 63/100 based on 9 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a 2 12 out of 4-star rating. He compared the elaborate booby-traps in the film to Rube Goldberg, 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.[19] 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 conversation between Kevin and Marley, as well as the film's final scenes.[20] 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."[21] Variety magazine praised the film for its cast.[22] Jeanne Cooper of The Washington Post praised the film for its comedic approach.[23] Hal Hinson, also of The Washington Post, praised Chris Columbus's direction and Culkin's acting.[24]


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.[25]

American Film Institute Lists


The film was followed by a commercially successful sequel in 1992, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which brings back the first film's cast. The film within a film, Angels with Filthy Souls, had a sequel in Home Alone 2, Angels with Even Filthier Souls. Both Angels meta-films featured character actor Ralph Foody as stereotypical 1930s mobster Johnny.[28]

Home Alone 3, released in 1997, has completely different actors, and a different storyline with John Hughes writing the screenplay. A fourth made-for-TV film followed in 2002, Home Alone 4. This film features some of the same characters who were in the first two films, but with a new cast and a storyline that does not fall into the same continuity. Hughes did not write the screenplay for the TV film.

On November 25, 2012, a fifth film, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist premiered during ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas programming event.[29]

The 1995 comedy film Bushwhacked was originally planned to be a spin-off film with Daniel Stern reprising his role as Marv giving up his life of crime only to be framed while working at his new job.


Home Alone was novelized by Todd Strasser and published by Scholastic in 1990 to coincide with the film. ISBN 0-590-55066-7

In the book the McCallisters live in Oak Park, Kevin is seven years old, Buzz's tarantula is named as Axl and the Wet Bandits are named as Harry Lyme and Marv Murchens.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Home Alone (1990)".  
  2. ^ a b Home Alone - Movie Review, retrieved August 7, 2009 
  3. ^ Teather, David (November 30, 2007). "Fade to red".  
  4. ^ "Remembering Home Alone". Retrieved September 26, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Lucido, Gary (March 9, 2012). House Sells For $1.585 Million"Home Alone". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Home Alone filming locations". Retrieved June 13, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York Filming Locations". Retrieved June 15, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Facts about the Home". jamielynnphillips. January 3, 2006. Retrieved June 21, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Home Alone house for sale". RTÉ News. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Chicago - Things to do". Retrieved June 15, 2008. 
  11. ^ "How to Get Your Home in the Movies". June 16, 2007. Retrieved June 15, 2008. 
  12. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (January 14, 1991). "Home Alone in 9th Week as No. 1 Film : Movies: 'Godfather Part III' takes dramatic slide from second to sixth place in its third week out. 'Awakenings' is in second.".  
  13. ^ "Home Alone (1990) - Weekend Box Office Results".  
  14. ^ Movie box office results for the top 50 movies of 1990
  15. ^ " Movie box office results for the top 50 movies of 1990". Retrieved December 24, 2007. 
  16. ^ William Goldman, The Big Picture?: Who Killed Hollywood and Other Essays, Applause, 2000 p 49-50
  17. ^ "Home Alone Movie Reviews".  
  18. ^ "Home Alone Reviews".  
  19. ^  
  20. ^ James, Caryn (November 16, 1990). "Movie Review - Home Alone".  
  21. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (July 25, 2007). "Home Alone Review".  
  22. ^ "Variety Reviews - Home Alone".  
  23. ^ Cooper, Jeanne (November 16, 1990). "Home Alone".  
  24. ^ Hinson, Hal (November 16, 1990). "Home Alone". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Home Alone search". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  26. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  27. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
  28. ^ [1]
  29. ^ "What's on tonight". ABC Family. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  30. ^ Sragow, Michael (December 23, 2010). Home Alone' is the Charles' post-Christmas gift for kids, parents and hipsters"'".  

External links

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