This article is about the 1990 version. For the just-announced reboot, see Home Alone (reboot).
The McCallisters prepare to spend Christmas with Peter and Frank's brother, Rob, in Paris, France, gathering at Peter and Kate's house in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, the night before their flight. Eight-year-old Kevin, their youngest son and the protagonist of the film, finds himself the subject of ridicule from the other children. After getting into an argument with his oldest brother, Buzz because he ate Kevin's cheese pizza on purpose, he is sent to the third floor bedroom of the house, where he wishes that his family would disappear. The family accidentally leaves Kevin asleep in bed, as a power outage resets the time and causes them to wake up late. A neighbor boy named Mitch Murphy is mistaken for Kevin in the head count, and the family hastily departs to the Chicago O'Hare International Airport, for a flight to Paris-Orly Airport. During the flight Kate realizes that they have left Kevin behind, and once everyone is in Paris, she immediately tries to book a return flight back to Chicago. Kate manages to fly into Dallas and Scranton, but the flight from there to Chicago was out of order. However, she does manage to hitch a ride with a man named Gus Polinski and his polka band, the Kenosha Kickers, who are driving to Milwaukee after their flight was cancelled in a blizzard.
Meanwhile, Kevin wakes up to find the house empty and is overjoyed to find that his wish came true. He gets away with Buzz's life savings, practicing shooting with Buzz's BB gun, jumping on the bed, watching a gangster film that his uncle wouldn't let him watch the night before, and eating 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 via payphone from Paris-Orly, 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 robbing other vacant houses along the block. They are aware of which house are vacant, as Harry impersonated a police officer in the beginning of the film doing wellness checks on families before the holidays.
On Christmas Eve, Kevin manages overhear 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 in hopes to have his family return, he runs into Marley. They talk, and he realizes that Marley is in fact a very nice man and that none of the rumors about him are 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.
His own spirits lifted by encouraging Marley, he returns home to prepare a series of various booby traps around the house. Harry and Marv, who were initially fooled by Kevin's illusions that the house is occupied, now realize that he is home alone and attempt to break in, running into the various traps. After the two spring almost every trap in the house, Kevin flees to the second floor of the house and dials 9-1-1 from a landline. Harry and Marv manage to chase Kevin out of the house; he flees to the vacant neighboring home, which was unlocked and unoccupied. They trap Kevin when he runs to the top of the stairs connecting the basement and the first floor and hang him on a coat hook on the door. They decide to do the same things that Kevin did to them and Harry decides to bite Kevin's fingers one at a time first, but Marley sneaks up behind them and knocks them out with a snow shovel before taking Kevin off the hook and take him home. Shortly after Kevin is safely returned home, Harry and Marv are arrested. Additionally, the police were aware of every house that The Wet Bandits have hit because of their habits of leaving the household's water running to leave their mark.
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 family, having traveled directly to Chicago from Paris, arrive. Kevin and Buzz have a moment of reconciliation. Kevin keeps silent about his encounter with Harry and Marv, but Peter finds Harry's gold tooth and wonders what it is. Kevin and Buzz have a moment of reconciliation. Kevin then goes over to the window and sees Marley greeting his son and his family and discovers that Marley took his advice. While Marley is hugging his granddaughter, he looks up to see Kevin, and waves to him (as a sign of thanking him), and Kevin waves back, grinning, and watches as Marley heads inside with his family. However, Buzz interrupts Kevin's musings by suddenly calling out, "Kevin! What did you do to my room?!" Kevin immediately runs off (probably to Buzz's room) before fading to black.
- "Somewhere in My Memory"
- "Star of Bethlehem"
- "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - performed by Mel Torme
- "Please Come Home for Christmas" - performed by Southside Johnny Lyon
- "White Christmas" - performed by the Drifters
- "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - performed by Brenda Lee
- "Run Rudolph Run - performed by Chuck Berry
- "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (from How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)
- "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"
- "Carol of the Bells"
- "O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noël")
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, 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. "Somewhere in My Memory" has since been 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").
Released by CBS Records in November 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)
|Macaulay Culkin||Kevin McCallister|
|John Heard||Peter McCallister|
|Roberts Blossom||Old Man Marley|
|Catherine O'Hara||Kate McCallister|
|Devin Ratray||Buzz McCallister|
|Gerry Bamman||Frank McCallister|
|John Candy||Gus Polinski|
|Larry Hankin||Officer Balzak|
|Michael C. Maronna||Jeff|
|Jedidiah Cohen||Rod McCallister|
|Terrie Snell||Aunt Leslie|
|Jeffrey Wiseman||Mitch Murphy|
| Ralph Foody|
|Gangsters in Angels with Filthy Souls|
|Ray Toler||Rob McCallister|
|Billie Bird||Woman in airport|
|Bill Erwin||Man in airport|
| Gerry Becker|
| Porscha Radcliffe|
|Clarke Devereux||Officer Devereux|
|Dan Charles Zukoski||Pizza boy|
|Lynn Mansbach||French woman|
|Alan Wilder||Scranton ticket agent|
|Hope Davis||French ticket agent|
|Dianne B. Shaw||Airline counter person|
|Tracy Connor||Check out girl|
|Jim Ryan||Stock boy|
|Kenneth Hudson Campbell||Santa|
|Sandra Macat||Santa's Elf|
|Ann Whitney||Drugstore Clerk|
|Richard J. Firfer||Store manager|
|Jim Ortlieb||Herb the drugstore clerk|
|Kate Johnson||Police operator|
| Michael Hansen|
|Jean-Claude Sciore||French gate agent|
|Monica Devereux||Flight attendant|
| Edward Bruzan|
Frank R. Cernugel
|Polka band members|
|Irene Columbus||Woman with baby on flight to Paris|
|Quinn Culkin||Girl at airport|
|Raja Gosnell||Murphy's answering machine voice|
|James Huffman||Kid at airport|
|Earl Hundt||Airport patron|
|Larry Nazimek||Airline pilot|
|Paul Ruffino||Polka van driver|
|Yuri Rutman||Sailor in O'Hare Airport|
|Luciano Saber||Airport traveler|
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 DC-10 business class was also put together there, on the basketball courts. Twentifith Century Fox picked up the project after Warner Bros.'s rejection when the budget escalated from $14 million to $17 million.
The Home Alone house, or more precisely 671 Lincoln Avenue, is a three-story single family home detached ones used for shooting most of the scenes in Home Alone and the first few scenes of the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. The kitchen in the film was actually shot in the house, along with the main staircase, basement, and most of the first floor landing. However, the house's dining room, and all of the rooms downstairs (excluding the kitchen) were built on a soundstage. It is located in the village of Winnetka, Oak Park, which is 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.
Novelization and deleted scenes
A children's novelization of the film was published several months prior to its initial November 1990 opening. This adaption 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 Harry impersonating a police officer. This particular scene takes place directly after Kevin's family leaves for their vacation in Paris. The novelization also includes the burglars' surnames. Joe Pesci's character, Harry Lyme, is a reference to Orson Welles' character in the 1940s film The Third Man.
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 movie won two 1991 Young Artist Awards for Most Entertaining Comedy Movie and Best Actor Macaulay Culkin, portraying his lead role as Kevin. It also won the 1991 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie. The film was also nominated for two 1991 Oscars for Best Score and Best Original Song.
The film was followed by a commercially successful sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which was the only Home Alone follow-up to bring back the original cast from the first film.
Home Alone 3, released in 1997, had completely different actors and a completely different storyline. It was also the only film in the series to not be set on or around Christmas--it is set in January.
A fourth film, Home Alone 4, followed in 2002. This film 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. It was the first film in the series to be made for television instead of theatrical release.
A fifth film with another unrelated storyline, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, followed in 2012 and was also made-for-TV.
Angels with Filthy Souls
Angels with Filthy Souls is a fictional gangster film that appears within Home Alone and was made specifically for the film. When the pizza delivery guy comes to deliver Kevin his cheese pizza, Kevin plays the movie and fast towards through Snakes' parts to make the pizza guy believe that Johnny lives in the house and run off when Johnny fires at Snakes. To thwart the antagonists, Kevin later plays it to trick them into thinking there are armed, dangerous adults in his house and uses fireworks to make things more believable. The title is likely a reference to the 1938 film Angels with Dirty Faces. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York shows that there is a sequel, Angels with Even Filthier Souls, which aids Kevin as well. The original clip was also used in the 2019 film Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.
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