Thanks to ABC Family's perpetual rotation of Home Alone around the holidays, there's hardly a soul in this world who hasn't seen the early '90s comedy. The movie stars Macaulay Culkin as 8-year-old Kevin McCallister, who is accidentally left behind to fend off burglars at Christmastime while his family jets off to Paris.
The film might have come out 24 years ago, and Culkin has fallen far from the entertainment zeitgeist, but Home Alone is still one of the best Christmas movies around, thanks to its campy sense of humor, lessons about courage and the central theme of appreciation.
Thankfully, the gags that Home Alone pulls will be forever appreciated. One major source of laughs comes straight from the men robbing the neighborhood. The banter between the two crooks is the standard conversation you'd expect from a duo of dimwits. Additionally, the grand irony of the movie is that the whole time Kevin thinks that he's the one that made his family disappear. Audiences get to watch as his mother frantically tries to get back to the U.S. while Kevin is going grocery-shopping and applying shriekingly strong aftershave.
As much as you roll your eyes at these kinds of jokes nowadays, what keeps you laughing is understanding that this movie came out in 1990. Thinking about it in the vacuum before Britney Spears and 'NSYNC is what keeps the movie so delightful. You probably thought the flick was comedic genius when you were a kid. Nostalgia transports you back to the days when something didn't necessarily have to be cleverly written to be the only thing that makes you giggle. Coming back to Home Alone every holiday season is easy. Unlike getting a lump of coal for Christmas, Home Alone never disappoints because you already know what you're going to get.
The movie also takes the fruitcake for its message about being brave. Through the first half of the movie, there's the repeated quip that Kevin's next-door neighbor is a scary murderer whom he makes eye contact with on several occasions. But once the two formally meet and talk out their feelings, they both learn a little about each other and themselves. Largely, that whatever they're scared of, they should face straight-on. For the neighbor, that means talking to his son he got into a fight years before. And for Kevin? He sets a bunch of booby traps for the robbers he knows are going to show up at nighttime.
Perhaps Home Alone has a special place in our hearts for its reminder that it's easy to take for granted what you have. At first, Kevin's delighted that his quarrelsome family is gone. But soon the loneliness settles in and he truly does miss his parents and crew of siblings. That love is reciprocated, with his mom seeking every way possible to get back home and his whole family jumping onto the first available plane back. When Kevin wakes up to snow falling from the sky and an empty house a few days later on Christmas morning, his face lights up brighter than a tree topper when he sees his mom — and that's more magical than a pile of gifts under a pine. Albeit a bit cheesy, this is where the spirit of Christmas truly comes out.
But the movie isn't without faults. There are still some questions that haunt to this day:
Exactly how fast is that tarantula?
How does Mrs. McAllister look so good after a cross-country journey in a truck?
How did Kevin clean up the house so fast?
Other than those few light concerns, watching Home Alone is still one of the best parts about the holidays. The laughs it encourages and the messages it imparts keep the comedy relevant even after more than two decades. While its sequels might not be as good (seriously, just stick to the original), we can always depend on Home Alone when the stockings are stuffed and the tree is decorated to provide us with something more than just something to watch. It's like coming home to family every year at the holidays — a big, warm embrace and a smile to match.