One of the most pure examples of a simple concept done superbly, "Home Alone" has certainly become a holiday classic over the years. While the sequels are a little questionable (although the second film isn't too bad), the first film still remains beloved more than a decade after its release. The film opens in a Chicago suburb as a family prepares to leave for their Christmas trip. Aunts, uncles, children and parents scatter about, leaving poor Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) in the dust. After accidentially making a mess after being teased, Kevin is unfairly sent up to the attic for punishment. As he goes up the steps, he wishes that he'd never see his family again.
After a power out overnight, the family rushes to make their flight the next morning after waking up late. When Kevin heads downstairs in the morning he finds that his wish has come true - everyone is long gone. Not long after, it dawns on Kevin that he has all the freedoms that every kid wants: the freedom to eat whatever he wants, stay up as late as he wants and to watch whatever he wants on TV. Meanwhile, somewhere over the ocean, Kevin's mother (Catherine O'Hara) feels as if she's forgotten something.
Kevin won't have it easy, though: a pair of burglars (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci) are lurking about the neighborhood. When Kevin becomes aware that someone's trying to get in, he sets up an impressively elaborate security system. Meanwhile, Kevin's family remains in Paris, unable to find a flight home and unable to contact anyone.
The film was Culkin's first, and the picture had to be carried by the young actor. Thankfully, despite the young actor's inexperience, his performance remains fun and enjoyable throughout, as he perfectly portrays a kid who suddenly finds himself ruling over of an enormous house. Culkin handles the emotional moments and the comedy well, as does the film: "Home Alone" remains a nice blend of comedy and adventure, with some sentimental moments here-and-there.
It's been ages since I've seen "Home Alone" and I'm pleased to say that the film still holds up fairly well, as Culkin's performance is solid and the film's blend of comedy, adventure and sentimentality still remains engaging and uplifting.
VIDEO: "Home Alone" is presented by Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. While this is the best the film has looked at home, there are still certainly some concerns. Sharpness and detail varied throughout the show, as while some scenes appeared crisper than others, the film looked rather soft overall.
Other issues included some slightly smeary colors in a few scenes and a couple of instances of minor artifacting. On a positive note, no edge enhancement was seen, the print appeared clean and colors usually looked warm and nicely saturated.
SOUND: The film's new Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation opens out the film's audio slightly, using the surrounds to provide some minor ambience and reinforcement of the score. Otherwise, this is largely a front-heavy presentation. Audio quality is perfectly pleasing, with clear dialogue and effects, as well as a score that sounded full and rich.
EXTRAS: The main extra is an audio commentary from director Chris Columbus and actor MacCaulay Culkin. Given that's it has been years since the film's release, I didn't expect a whole lot from the commentary track. Thankfully, two surprised me with a lively and fun track that provides a great overview of the film's production (how composer John Williams came aboard, casting a group of talented adults who wondered what they were doing in this sort of film, sets and working on a smaller budget, among other topics) and gives a feeling of what it was like to see the film suddenly turn into a massive hit upon release.
Additionally, we get a series of promotional featurettes: "The Making of Home Alone", "The Stunts of Home Alone", "How to Burglar-Proof Your Home", "The Stunts of Home Alone", "Home Alone Around the World", "Where's Buzz Now?", "Mac Cam", "Angels With Filthy Souls" and the 1990 press featurette. The DVD also includes a gag reel, 15 deleted scenes or alternate takes and a trio of set-top games.
Final Thoughts: "Home Alone" remains a holiday classic that stands up rather well years later. The DVD presentation does offer enjoyable audio/video quality, as well as a solid selection of supplemental features. Recommended.
The Film A-