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An oral history of ‘Home Alone’

For nine-year-old me, ‘Home Alone’ struck the perfect balance between schmaltz, prepubescent irreverence, and slapstick.

George Lucas on Home Alone (as recounted by the former chairman of Twentieth Century Fox):

You know you’ve got a big hit coming? The one about the kid. The movie business is binary. The light is either on or it’s off. If it’s on, there’s nothing you can do to screw it up.

Home Alone hit theaters twenty-five years ago this week. Chicago Magazine’s oral history is well worth a read. It recounts how a simple Christmas movie became a runaway success.

Home Alone remains one of my holiday favorites. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was nine years old (the same age as the film’s hero) when I first saw it. For my younger self, the film struck the perfect balance between schmaltz, prepubescent irreverence, and slapstick.

It’s easier to see the seams now (for example, we spend most of the movie waiting for the booby trap sequence). But the John Williams score still whips up instant nostalgia, and the Old Man Marley ending makes me weepy. (Don’t judge me. I’m a sucker for father-son reconciliation stories.)

What better way to waste time this Thanksgiving week than to revisit the McCallisters, the Wet Bandits, and the Sound Bend Shovel Slayer?