2. Home Alone
“There are 15 people in this house and you’re the only one who has to make trouble.”
John Hughes is one of the only celebrities whose death felt close to home. The screenplays of his long and unparalleled career were a part of my life in the way N64s were a part of my friends’ – they were the framework with which I communicated with my family (“Pack my suitcase?” I’d wail before every family vacation), the reasons for me to be holed up in my room on a Saturday afternoon (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, Uncle Buck, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science), and the inspiration for the dreamiest of my dream careers. Hughes writes protagonists who are so believably empathetic that it’s easy to mistake them for real people we once knew and haven’t heard from in a while, and Home Alone is no exception. Kevin McCallister is the black hole at the center of a home filled with unhappy people who have various reasons for being miserable around the holidays. The parents hate the crammed house, the kids hate the parents, and Kevin McCallister hates everyone. The titular setting of Home Alone has the lived in feel of all John Hughes movies (the school is a character in The Breakfast Club, as is the city of Chicago in Ferris Beuller/Adventures in Babysitting, and the homes in Weird Science/Sixteen Candles/Uncle Buck, et al.), so as we watch Kevin revel in his newfound solitude, we believe that this is his home. And, later, we believe he feels a duty to “defend it.” Though the booby trapping is an opera of slapstick masochism, there is no blood, and the thieves are far too bumbling to be considered serious threats. (Harry (Joe Pesci) almost bites off Kevin’s finger in one of the final scenes. I think a lot of us choose to forget that.) And (again) in the end, it’s not about the conflict between Kevin and the Wet Bandits (Sticky Bandits in HA2), it’s about Christmastime being a season when we realize that, as much as we’d like to just write them off every once in a while, our homes – our families - mean the world to us. Home Alone is endlessly quotable, has what is in my opinion John Williams’ best score (and one that is as synonymous with “Christmas” as any standard carol), and features the zany-yet-lovable characters that have made John Hughes an influence to generations of moviegoers and moviemakers. Oh, and Catherine O’Hara is the closest thing we as a country have to a Queen.