Most film fans, especially those familiar with early 1990s movies, will have seen the yuletide comedy Home Alone. Some people perhaps even watch it every year as part of a Christmas tradition. But sometimes it’s easy to miss interesting details when they’re hidden in plain sight. Take the mansion-like house in the movie, for example. Notice anything unusual about it?
Since its release in 1990, the Chris Columbus/John Hughes collaboration Home Alone has certainly passed into the realms of pure festive nostalgia. For those who don’t know, the main character is young hellion Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, whose parents accidentally leave him to fend for himself over Christmas. Missing the family dinner is the least of his worries, though.
Because not only does Kevin suspect that his neighbor’s a murderer, but a pair of criminals also try to enter his house. These opportunistic “Wet Bandits,” you see, mistakenly believe that the property’s empty for the holidays and so consider it an easy mark. Needless to say, though, their robbery attempts don’t quite go as planned.
That’s because Kevin is incredibly resourceful when it comes to protecting his home. So, using a selection of ingenious traps, the kid refuses to give up his property without a fight. And with the assistance of the actually friendly neighbor, Kevin eventually defeats the Wet Bandits and reunites with his family for Christmas.
The film’s stars include Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, who play Wet Bandits Harry and Marv, respectively. Harry is the shorter and supposedly smarter of the two. And both his stature and personality are in comedic contrast to his lankier and intellectually challenged partner, Marv.
Elsewhere, John Heard and Catherine O’Hara play Kevin’s parents. In the characters’ chaotic efforts to get their big family to Paris for Christmas, they subsequently lose track of Kevin. Distraught at their negligence, the frantic McCallisters then try to get back home to Kevin throughout the rest of the film.
Arguably the film’s most recognizable face is, though, Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister. His young Kevin is initially elated to find that he has the house to himself, of course, but he comes to miss his parents by the end of the film. Ultimately, then, he’s happy to have them back in time for the holidays.
It’s perhaps not a surprise to learn that Home Alone was a huge box office success when it first hit theaters. The film actually earned a total of $17 million dollars in its debut weekend alone and went on to bring in more than $470 million globally. Those figures made it the then-third-highest-grossing film in history.
The film’s critical reception, however, was decidedly mixed. So while some reviewers applauded the performances and comedic content of Home Alone, others had contrasting reactions. There were those who didn’t agree with the film’s brand of violent – albeit slapstick – humor, for instance. Regardless of those reviews, though, plenty of film fans still love the movie today.
The film’s success has even led to four further additions to the series. However, only the direct sequel – Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – featured the same cast and enjoyed similar success. Considering their popularity, in fact, the first two movies probably remain the highlights of Culkin’s early career.
For one thing, Home Alone led to Culkin being nominated for a Young Artist Award as Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture. His famous roles didn’t end there, either: he went on to star in such films as My Girl, The Pagemaster and Richie Rich.
During his time in the limelight, in fact, Culkin reportedly ranked second only to Shirley Temple in terms of box-office success for a child star. But in 1994 the young actor apparently decided to take some time away from the big screen. His reasons were simple: he seemingly just wanted to know what everyday life was like out of the media spotlight.
So, aside from a brief appearance in the video for Sonic Youth’s “Sunday,” Culkin laid low for the best part of a decade. He didn’t act again, in fact, until 2003. And since then, he’s also written an autobiography and even formed a band. He was actually the singer in the group, which was a tongue-in-cheek rock act called The Pizza Underground.
Home Alone 2 wasn’t the last time that Culkin played Kevin McCallister, though. Since he returned to acting, you see, the star has also featured in a web series named :DRYVRS, which made its debut on December 17, 2015. In the dark comedy, written by and co-starring ex-The Moldy Peaches guitarist Jack Dishel, Culkin plays an emotionally scarred adult Kevin.
In the first episode, for instance, Dishel arranges for a car to pick him up, and Kevin McCallister turns out to be his driver. And during the ensuing journey, the unstable Kevin recalls the trauma that he endured during the events depicted in Home Alone, for which he blames his heartless mother. Things then take a sinister turn when a thug tries to hijack the car at gunpoint.
Kevin naturally uses improvised weapons to apprehend the criminal. But he isn’t content with just disarming the man. Instead, Kevin ties up his aggressor with fairy lights (in an homage to the original movie), kidnaps the man and then proceeds to torture him.
And Culkin wasn’t the only Home Alone actor in on the joke; in a later clip, Stern also reprises his role as Marv. In the brief video, the Wet Bandit appeals to his absent partner Harry for help against a psychopathic Kevin. The footage then fades to black, and viewers are left with the sound of Marv’s terrified screams.
So it’s obvious that even during Culkin’s prolonged absence from silver screens, interest in Home Alone never died away completely. For instance, the franchise has spawned several fan theories regarding certain unanswered questions about the movie. Take the job of Kevin’s father, Peter McCallister. In the movie, it isn’t clear what he does for a living.
Yet reddit user “cubanesis” believes that the film contains clues that suggest a sinister answer to this question. “One of the things I noticed was that Kevin’s dad, Peter, has something fishy going on,” they wrote. “My theory is that he’s some kind of mid-level criminal for the mob or something.”
Not convinced yet? Well, the original poster (OP) had more to say on the matter. “First, the very first time we see Peter is when Harry is dressed as a cop scoping the place out,” they observed. “Peter is way defensive in this interaction.”
“Secondly, we never find out what he does,” the OP continued. “They don’t mention where he works or his background or anything. Now, in the book adaptation of the movie, they say something about him being in ‘business.’ That’s pretty vague.”
This theory would therefore explain how the McCallisters could afford such a large and expensive property. But there’s something else that cubanesis thinks is out of place and that relates to how the Wet Bandits refer to the house. Apparently, Harry calls it things such as “The Silver Tuna” and “The Big Score.”
There’s one last detail worth mentioning as well. Reports have claimed that in Home Alone’s original script, the family’s uncle Frank orchestrated the McCallister burglary. If, for the sake of argument, we assume that cubanesis’ theory is true, then there’s clearly no honor among thieves.
The OP in fact thinks that the burglars know something about the house that goes unmentioned in the script. Perhaps that it’s the home of someone with links to organized crime? In addition, cubanesis makes the argument that all of the McCallisters behave very strangely for a suburban family.
The mystery surrounding Peter McCallister’s job isn’t the only unusual quirk that fans have noticed about Home Alone, either. Twitter user Claire Reilly also spotted something that you might have missed. And she too thinks the McCallister house is a very strange place.
Reilly actually feels so strongly about the subject that she launched into an amusing rant in December 2018. “Can we talk about the McAllisters’ house in Home Alone for a second?” she tweeted. “Like, of course you’re going to be a target for Christmas bandits if your house is entirely Christmas-themed!”
It’s not that the Reilly’s against festive decorations, you understand. But she pointed out that the more you look at the mansion-like house in the film, the more obsessive the decoration scheme becomes. “Okay, yes, they have a lot of Christmas decorations up,” she continued. “But that is just the start.”
Reilly’s humorous tirade then drew attention to the property’s decor. “Look at that wallpaper. What kind of monster has red wallpaper next to a green wall?” she asked. “Offset with contrasting green house plant and red candles?”
Okay, it’s a little weird, but that’s not enough evidence to prove the influence of an unstable mind working on the decor, right? Well, it gets worse. The more you look through the house, in fact, the more Christmas-themed fashion crimes crop up. “Throw up a festive green tapestry in the green corridor on the way to your attic, why not,” Reilly added.
So not only is the interior decor excessively festive, but it also extends to every element of the house. Reilly pointed out that this extends to the electrical appliances too. “Yes, it’s the 90s, but who has a green landline phone?” she wrote.
Reilly even suggested that O’Hara was given the role as the McCallister mom because she’s a redhead. Is a conspiracy afoot? Reilly certainly seems to thinks so. “This goes all the way to the top,” she claimed.
The Home Alone fan continued her post with a droll commentary on what the characters could be thinking. A crowbar-wielding Marv is as angry as he is confused by his insanely festive surroundings, she claimed. “Why is there so much Christmas theming, Harry?” Reilly captioned an image of the bewildered burglar.
Kevin McCallister himself is the next character Reilly helped to break through the fourth wall. “I have been here for three days by myself,” Reilly’s caption stated, “and I’ve finally worked out why you let them film a Christmas movie here.”
The next screenshot Reilly chose shows young Kevin in a particularly appropriate wardrobe choice. In it, he wears a green dressing gown over red patterned pajamas. “Tell the truth,” read the caption. “Did you just decorate this place as an elaborate con to leave me at Christmas time?”
However, these interior design and fashion faux pas are nothing compared to Reilly’s biggest bugbear. She deemed the McCallister home’s kitchen to be the biggest festive offender, in fact. The tweeter even ended her post by describing everything that’s wrong with it.
“Red pots, green tiles, red teapot, crimson floors, even a green rolling pin,” Reilly wrote. “Guys. We all go to the themed sections of IKEA and get ideas, but you’re not supposed to do it in real life. Home Alone: Great movie. Decorator’s nightmare. Fin.”
To conclude her commentary, Reilly posted one more image to prove her point. It was a shot of the McCallisters’ lounge in all of its gory holiday glory. And from the tree-green curtains to the Santa-red carpet, every inch of the room is splashed with yuletide decor.
The tweets subsequently received a great deal of attention from film fans, who added their own observations to Reilly’s comments. One person, for instance, questioned why the McCallisters decorated their house for Christmas at all, since they’d decided to spend the holiday in Paris.
Other commenters claimed that the house only looks garish by modern standards. “I honestly just think it was the style back then,” Mandy Bennett wrote. “My parents owned a house in the mid-90s that was quite similar to this. And it was just the trend.”
Whatever the truth, then, fan theories surrounding the Home Alone franchise certainly spark the imagination. And it’s great to learn that the actors behind the films also seem to have some fond memories of their roles. So let’s hope that we see more of the McAllisters and the Wet Bandits in the future.