When it comes to my top 10 Christmas movies, it’s tough not to include ‘Home Alone’. From John William’s score to Kevin’s elaborate booby-traps, it’s no wonder the film has long been heralded a Christmas classic.
Thus, in the spirit of going behind the scenes1, here are three underrated life lessons inspired by ‘Home Alone’…
1. Don’t believe everything you hear
Imagine being a falsely labeled murderer for over three decades, estranged from family, frozen in accusation. Hard to relate, right? Unfortunately, for ol’ man Marley, his reputation had fermented such stains. Once an innocent family man, now a salty, suspicious loner with a checkered past.
Yet, for Kevin, who like any impressionable youngster buys the gossip initially, his fear ultimately fades when confronted by Marley at a local church service.
Posed with tangible truth, Kevin not only accepts his misunderstanding, but ‘captains’ the conversation into two of the movie’s driving themes:
- Togetherness is a vital ingredient to family life.
- Never judge a book by its cover.
By exchange’s end, Kevin reminds us not only to weigh our judging impulses, but how doing so can build unexpected bridges with people we never imagined.
2. Reconcile your differences
As an adult, it’s interesting to observe movies you frequented as a kid. For instance, with ‘Home Alone’, it’s appalling how much word cursing and finger pointing occurs within the first five minutes.
Megan McCallister: Kevin, you’re completely helpless!
Linnie McCallister: You know, Kevin, you’re what the French call les incompetents.
Jeff McCallister: Kevin, you are *such* a *disease*!
Frank McCallister: Look what you *did*, you little *jerk*.
Buzz McCallister: I wouldn’t let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my [butt].
I mean…if I had family like that, I probably would want them to disappear too. No wonder my parents started the movie after these scenes!
Of course, as we eventually find, Kevin, not realizing he’d been inadvertently abandoned, learns to value what his parents provided him while Kevin’s parents learn to press through guilt into doing whatever possible to get home.
By the finale, not only do we see Kevin’s rejuvenated appreciation of family, but Kevin’s family realizing the type of person they’d been abandoning long before leaving for Paris.
Granted, it would have been ideal had humility and forgiveness being more directly exchanged. Yet, in the world of cinema, beggars can’t be choosers so we learn to live with backhand affirmation (Buzz: “Hey, Kev. It’s pretty cool that you didn’t burn the place down.”), hugs speaking for themselves, and a mother’s ‘sorry’ covering for the entire family2.
3. Don’t just conquer your fear, stay ahead of it
Remember the scene when Kevin goes down to the basement and encounters the furnace (apparently voiced by Sauron)?
Upon further review, Kevin does right in downgrading his foreboding to imagination, but as we later see, once the furnace opens, it’s game over.
Fast-forward twenty minutes and we find Kevin, having since conquered a pestering clerk, a stereotypical police officer, and a klutzy pizza delivery man, revisiting the furnace, flexing his new found confidence (see 1:18-1:27 in the clip below).
Yet, while Kevin is able to ‘defeat’ the furnace, he knows to beat the wet bandits, he must not only brace his fear, but embrace it by tackling each hurdle in stride as evidenced by my favorite scene in the movie…
Thus, as Kevin reminds us, if we want to better confront our challenges, we need to anticipate and see ourselves rising above them. Only then can we stand strong, hold our ground, and defend the faith as we were made to.
Bonus: Be careful what you wish for.
As a kid, this line constantly sailed over my head…
…but now as a married father of two, I get the joke.
Obviously, Kevin is too young to understand the full contrast between independence and relationship, especially in a family where neither is modeled well; however, for older viewers like us, his tantrum3 can remind us to be careful what we say, what we wish for, and how we interpret hidden cries for help.
In Kevin’s case, not only did he feel left out, but ridiculed and scorned when attention was given (hence his level of frustration; see word curses above). Yet, while his comments on the surface seem to indicate a craving for solitude, his ‘when I get married‘ slip up clearly confirms a much deeper-seeded desire for meaningful/functional connection.
As for us, let’s learn from Kevin by making sure we don’t defer our hope in the face of disappointment while keeping a steady ear, eye, and hand out for those in similar struggles4.
- In more ways than one
- Though quick side note: while Kevin’s parents lived their ownership, as we’ve talked about here on His Girl Fryday, full reconciliation of relational soul/spirit hurts can only occur if repentance is confessed
- Shout out to Joe Pesci whose reaction makes this scene)
- Which interestingly Kevin does with old man Marley during the church scene
- 2 Timothy 1:7
- Romans 8:37
- Psalm 23:4
- Isaiah 41:13
- Deuteronomy 31:6
- Psalm 27:1; 34:4
- Psalm 115:11
- 1 Peter 3:13-14
- 1 Corinthians 16:13
- Proverbs 13:12
Photo cover: Film & TV Now