The McCallisters prepare to spend Christmas with Peter and Frank's brother, Rob, in Paris, gathering at Peter and Kate's home in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, the night before their flight. Eight-year-old Kevin, their youngest child, finds himself the subject of ridicule from his siblings and cousins. After getting into an argument with his older brother, Buzz, he is sent to the third floor bedroom of the house, where he wishes his family would disappear. During the night, a power outage resets the alarm clocks and causes them to oversleep. In the confusion and rush to reach the airport on time, Kevin is left behind and they don't realize it until they are already airborne. Once in Paris, Peter and Kate desperately try to book a flight home.
Meanwhile, Kevin wakes up to find the house empty and is overjoyed to find that his wish came true. He takes Buzz's life savings, practices shooting with Buzz's BB gun, jumps on the bed, watches a gangster film, and eats a large amount of junk food. However, he finds himself scared by the appearance of the Chicago Police Department called by his parents to check on him, his next door neighbor, "Old Man" Marley, who was rumored to have murdered his family many years earlier, and the appearance of the Wet Bandits, Harry Lyme and Marv Merchants, who are breaking into other vacant houses on the block.
On Christmas Eve, Kevin overhears Harry and Marv discussing plans for breaking into his house that night. After conversing with a Santa Claus impersonator and watching a local choir perform in the church, he comes across Marley. They talk, and he learns that Marley is in fact a very nice man and the rumors about him aren't true. He tells Kevin he is watching the choir because his granddaughter is in it, and he never gets to see her because he and his son have not spoken in years after having had a big argument. Kevin advises him to reconcile with his son.
Kevin's own spirits lifted by encouraging Marley, he heads home and sets up various booby traps inside the house. Harry and Marv break in. After they spring every trap, Kevin flees to the second floor and dials 911. They chase him out, and he flees to Marley's house. The Wet Bandits catch him when he runs to the top of the basement stairs and hang him on a coat hook on the door. Marley sneaks up behind them and knocks them out with a snow shovel before taking Kevin home. Shortly after, Harry and Marv are arrested.
Kevin wakes up the next morning and is disappointed to see that his family is still gone. He then hears Kate enter the house, calling for him. He goes downstairs, and they meet and reconcile. Immediately after, the rest of the McCallisters, having traveled directly from Paris to Chicago, arrive. Kevin and Buzz have a moment of reconciliation. Kevin keeps silent about his encounter with Harry and Marv, although Peter finds Harry's gold tooth and wonders what it is. Kevin then goes over to the window and sees Marley greeting his son and his family. While Marley is hugging his granddaughter, he looks up to see Kevin, and waves to him (as a sign of thanking him). he waves back, grinning also, and watches as Marley heads inside with his family. However, Buzz interrupts Kevin's musings by calling out, "Kevin! What did you do to my room?"
Kevin immediately runs off probably to Buzz's room or somewhere in the house, and the film ends.
- Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister: An eight-year-old who comes from a big family and usually gets into trouble with them. One night he wishes for his family to disappear and gets his wish but later on learns that it is not really fun being all alone. He defends his house from two burglars by using booby traps.
- Joe Pesci as Harry Lyme: One of the burglars who tries to rob Kevin's house. He is the smarter of the two.
- Daniel Stern as Marv Merchants: One of the burglars who tries to rob Kevin's house. He is the sillier of the two.
- Roberts Blossom as "Old Man" Marley: An old man and a neighbor of Kevin's who is said to have murdered his whole family, causing Kevin to run scared of him every time he sees him. Kevin finally meets him at the nearby church and learns that he is not scary nor a murderer, and is actually a recluse because of a fight he had with his son many years before. He confides to Kevin that one can be a little old for a lot of things, but is never too old to be afraid of something (which Kevin agrees with). Kevin suggests that Marley call his son for Christmas, and at the end of the film, he has done just that. He waves to Kevin as his way of thanking him, and Kevin waves back, smiling proudly while watching from the living room window of his house.
- Catherine O'Hara as Kate McCallister: Kevin's mom and the mother of four more children.
- John Heard as Peter McCallister: Kevin's dad and the father of four more children.
- Devin Ratray as Buzz McCallister: Kevin's older brother. He likes to play tricks on him and getting him into trouble.
- Hillary Wolf as Megan McCallister: Kevin's older sister.
- Angela Goethals as Linnie McCallister: Kevin's older sister.
- Michael C. Maronna as Jeff McCallister: Kevin's older brother.
- Gerry Bamman as Frank McCallister: Kevin's uncle and brother of Peter and Rob McCallister. He is married to Leslie and the father of five children. He tends to have a strong dislike for his nephew Kevin.
- Terrie Snell as Leslie McCallister: Kevin aunt and sister-in-law to Peter and Rob McCallister. She is married to Frank and the mother of five children.
- Jedidiah Cohen as Rod McCallister: Kevin's cousin.
- Senta Moses as Tracy McCallister: Kevin's cousin.
- Daiana Campeanu as Sondra McCallister: Kevin's cousin.
- Kieran Culkin as Fuller McCallister: Kevin's cousin. He wears glasses, likes to drink soda (such as Pepsi or Coke), and is famous for wetting the bed.
- Anna Slotky as Brooke McCallister: Kevin's cousin.
- Kristin Minter as Heather McCallister: Kevin's cousin and daughter of Rob McCallister.
- John Candy as Gus Polinski: A member of a band who misses his flight to Milwaukee when it is cancelled so he and his band have to catch a ride in a van and he offers to give Kate a ride to Chicago, since it is on the way to Milwaukee, to which she accepts. He admits to her that he accidentally left his son alone at a funeral home once.
As with most of Hughes' films, the film was set—and most of it was shot—in the greater Chicago area. Any other shots, such as those of Paris, are either stock footage or film trickery. The scene where Kevin wades through Marley's flooded basement when trying to outsmart the burglars was actually shot in the swimming pool of New Trier High School. A mock-up of the McDonnell Douglas DC10 business class was also put together there, on the basketball courts. 20th Century Fox picked up the project after Warner Bros.'s rejection when the budget escalated from $14 million to $17 million.
The house used in the film, or more precisely 671 Lincoln Avenue, is a three-story single family detached ones used for shooting most of the scenes and the first four of the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. The kitchen was actually shot in the house, along with the main staircase, basement, and most of the first floor landing. However, the dining room, and all of the rooms downstairs (excluding the kitchen) were built on a soundstage. It is located in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, located about 19 miles (30 km) north of the city in New Trier Township. It was built in 1920 and features 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a fully converted attic, a fireplace, a detached double garage, and a greenhouse. "Kevin's tree house" in the backyard was demolished, since it was built specifically for the film. The residence is listed as a Chicago-area tourist destination, as well as being cited as an example of "How to Get Your Home in the Movies."
Following its original theatrical release, Fox Video made the film available on VHS and Laserdisc in 1991.
The film made its DVD debut on October 5, 1999. This DVD release, which contained a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer version of it, was later repackaged in a Christmas Classics box set with those of A Christmas Carol, Jingle All the Way and Miracle on 34th Street, on November 7, 2006. It was repackaged again, this time with the DVDs of the first three Home Alone sequels, in another box set released on October 14, 2008.
A new DVD release with a higher-quality anamorphic widescreen transfer and several bonus features, labeled as the Family Fun Edition, was released on November 21, 2006. A Blu-ray edition of it was later released on December 2, 2008, and later included in a 2-pack with the Blu-ray release of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in 2010. The Family Fun Edition Blu-ray was released again in 2011 as a combo pack that also contained the DVD and a Digital Copy. A 25th Anniversary Edition DVD and Blu-ray were released on October 6, 2015, both individually and in a "Collector's Edition" collection with Blu-rays and DVDs of the four sequels.
Home Alone: Official Soundtrack
Released by Sony Music Entertainment in 1990, the soundtrack contained 19 tracks consisting of the original score composed by John Williams and other Christmas songs used in the film.
- "Home Alone Main Titles" (4:53)
- "Holiday Flight" (0:59)
- "The House" (2:27)
- "Star of Bethlehem (Orchestral Version)" (2:51)
- "Man of the House" (4:33)
- "White Christmas" (2:40)
- "Scammed by a Kindergartner" (3:55)
- "Please Come Home For Christmas" (Southside Johnny) (2:41)
- "Follow That Kid!" (2:03)
- "Making the Plane" (0:52)
- "O Holy Night" (2:48)
- "Carol of the Bells" (1:25)
- "Star of Bethlehem" (2:59)
- "Setting the Trap" (2:16)
- "Somewhere in My Memory" (1:04)
- "The Attack on the House" (6:53)
- "Mom Returns and Finale" (4:19)
- "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Mel Tormé) (3:05)
- "We Wish You a Merry Christmas/End Title" (4:15)
"Somewhere in My Memory"
The film's signature tune, "Somewhere in My Memory", was actually written by Williams to "run alongside the film". It can be heard in numerous sections of the film, either in full length or fragments, forming the backbone for the soundtrack and setting an innocent, nostalgic mood, mainly depicting Kevin's struggles and his sorrow, which is reflected in the lyrics.
Today, the song is performed in many Christmas concerts in schools or professional orchestras and choirs alike across the globe. A Spanish version was recorded in Spain for the closing credits; it was performed by singer Ana Belén and is entitled "Sombras de otros tiempos" ("Shadows of Other/Former Times").
Novelization and deleted scenes
A novelization of the film was published several months prior to its initial November 1990 opening. It features chapters and pictures that showcase several large scenes that were filmed but deleted from the final film. One of the many notable cut scenes features Marv impersonating a police officer, directly after the McCallisters leave for Paris. It also includes the surnames of the burglars. Joe Pesci's character, named Harry Lyme, is a reference to Orson Welles' character in the 1949 film The Third Man.
Video games based on the film were released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Game Gear, the Game Boy, the Sega Master System, the Amiga, and personal computers in 1991. The one on the SNES system used still images and character's voices from the film in its gameplay. It also features the characters from the film as well as new enemies created for the game, including a fat gangster, ghosts, large rats, and very large tarantulas.
Another video game titled Home Alone was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2006. It was not released in the United States.
In 2007, the NES version was reviewed by the Angry Video Game Nerd as part of his crossover with Captain S.
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $17 million in 1,202 theaters, averaging $14,211 per site and just 6% of the final total. It proved so popular that it stayed in theaters well past the Christmas season. It was the #1 film at the box office for 12 straight weeks, from its release weekend of November 16–18, 1990 through the weekend of February 1–3, 1991. It remained a top 10 draw at the box office until the weekend of April 26 that year, which was well past Easter weekend. It made two more appearances in the top 10 (the weekend of May 31-June 2 and the weekend of June 14–16) before finally falling out of the top 10. It ended up making a final gross of $285,761,243, the top grossing film of its year in North America. It is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest grossing live-action comedy ever.
By the time it had run its course in theaters, the film was the third highest grossing film of all time, according to the home video box. In total, its cinema run grossed $477,561,243 worldwide.
Though it was a great success in theaters, critical reception to the film has been mixed. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt that the plot was too implausible and the entire film too contrived. Modern day review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave it a "Rotten" score of 47%. Reviewers cited that slapstick comedy has little appeal. The user section, however, on the site was positive with a "Fresh" score of 85% and a 63 out of 100 rating, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", at Metacritic. It received an Academy Award for Best Original Score nomination written by John Williams.
The film was followed by a commercially successful sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which brought back the original cast. Home Alone 3, released in 1997, had completely different actors and a completely unrelated storyline. A fourth film, Home Alone 4, followed in 2002. It features some of the same characters featured in the first two films, but with a new cast and storyline that does not fall into the same continuity. A fifth film with another unrelated storyline, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, followed in 2012.
Angels with Filthy Souls
Angels with Filthy Souls is a fictional gangster film that appears within Home Alone and was made specifically for it. To thwart the bandits, Kevin plays it to trick them into thinking there are armed, dangerous adults in his house. The title is likely a reference to the 1938 film Angels with Dirty Faces. There is also a sequel to it, Angels with Even Filthier Souls, in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which aids Kevin as well.
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