‘Home Alone’ Became a Christmas Classic With These Five Minutes

The Big Picture

  • Home Alone is a timeless Christmas classic complete with a charming story and plenty of laughs.
  • The scene in which Kevin is reunited with his mom, is emotional and beautiful, and epitomizes the Christmas spirit.
  • Home Alone is not just about Kevin defending his home against burglars, but also about him realizing the importance of family.


It can be hard to narrow down a favorite Christmas movie, but there’s no denying that certain ones are certified classics. Home Alone is one of those classics, and because of that, it is a staple watch during the holiday season for many. It’s for good reason too. Despite being released in 1990, Home Alone has stood the test of time, and never fails to bring the Christmas season into full effect. With a charming story and plenty of laughs, Home Alone appeals to viewers of all ages, making it the perfect choice for a family movie night or just a cozy night in. Many moments stand out in the film, from Catherine O’Hara’s iconic screaming of “KEVIN!”, to Kevin’s (Macaulay Culkin) countless pranks and booby traps. But the scene that has always stood out to me happens towards the end of the film, after all the traps have been set and the bad guys have been defeated. And though it’s brief in length, it’s a scene that is chock-full of warmth and Christmas spirit.

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Home Alone

An eight-year-old troublemaker, mistakenly left home alone, must defend his home against a pair of burglars on Christmas eve. 

Release Date
November 16, 1990

Runtime
103

Main Genre
Comedy


‘Home Alone’ Is a Timeless Classic

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister decorating a Christmas tree in Home Alone
Image via 20th Century Fox

Home Alone follows the extended (and rowdy) McCallister family the night before their big family trip to Paris. Kevin McCallister, however, isn’t having the best time, and after a series of mishaps that ruin dinner, he’s punished by his mom and sent to bed early. To make matters worse, he has to sleep in the attic for the night due to the full house! In retaliation, Kevin storms up the stairs, yelling that he wishes his family would just disappear. As fate would have it, a winter storm knocks out the power, causing all of the alarm clocks to reset and send the family into a frenzy. As the family rushes to gather their things, a head count is done to make sure all the kids are accounted for. But unbeknownst to the family, one of the kids they counted is not actually Kevin, just a friend who’d come to say bye and is not accompanying them on the trip. And so the McCallisters set off in a rush without a clue as to what – or rather who – they’ve just forgotten. Kevin awakens to find the house empty, but the garage still filled with the family’s cars. This can only mean one thing to him: he made his family disappear. Kevin does as any kid would do with a parent-free household and indulges in ice cream for dinner, and movies that he’s not usually allowed to watch. But his newfound freedom is suddenly jeopardized when he discovers that a pair of burglars have targeted his home. Kevin is forced to defend his home and sets up an elaborate array of booby traps to thwart the burglar’s plans, with hilarious succession.

After he’s successfully saved his home, Kevin makes a Christmas Eve wish that his family will come back. This perfectly coincides with the film’s secondary plot, that of Kevin’s mom trying to make it home to him by any means necessary. She makes it with the help of John Candy and Co., and though her way of getting home is rather unique, she makes it home just in time. On Christmas morning, Kevin excitedly runs down the stairs, checking everywhere in the house, and even checking outside for his family, but only finding an empty house. But just as he disappointedly retreats inside a van pulls up — his mom has made it home! She races inside, finds Kevin and with a big smile tells him “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.” Though he teasingly feigns mad, he eventually sports a broad smile and runs to her, leaping into her arms as John Williams’ score swells. To make it even better, the rest of Kevin’s family soon piles in, having caught a flight home just in time. It’s pure joy on film, and to me, epitomizes Christmas as a whole.

‘Home Alone’ Perfectly Captures the Magic of Christmas

kevin-mom-reunion-home-alone
Image via 20th Century Fox

I’m just going to say it, Kevin’s reunion with his mom is my favorite scene in any Christmas movie. Perhaps it’s simple, or an easy choice, but it never fails to bring a tear to my eye. There’s so much about Home Alone that makes it a beloved Christmas movie, but it’s these final few minutes that truly solidify the film as a classic. Home Alone could very easily be a surface-level film about a kid playing wacky tricks on some bad guys. In fact, the sequels (aside from Home Alone 2) do feel more in that vein. But the original film takes a different approach, and it’s the family dynamic throughout the film that really ties it all together.

It’s pretty clear from the get-go that Kevin doesn’t always get along with his family — he’s an eight-year-old kid. What do you expect? His wish that his family would just disappear isn’t a far-fetched or overly dramatic line for him to deliver, it’s a typical kid tantrum and one that he’ll be over by morning. But then all of the unfortunate events take place, and he’s left to believe that he really did wish his family away. This, of course, isn’t true, but Kevin doesn’t know that, and so he simply adapts to a life without his family, only to realize pretty quickly how lonely that life is. As much as the film is about Kevin fighting off the bad guys, it’s about him realizing the importance of family. That’s why his reunion with his mom is so poignant. Kevin and his mom may bicker, but they love each other deeply and nothing can change that. Catherine O’Hara’s performance helps give this moment an extra layer. Her reaction to Kevin’s decorations, and the milk and cookies he’s left out for Santa, is so subtle yet so bittersweet. You know she feels incredibly guilty for what happened, but when she finally reunites with Kevin all feels right again, and she holds him tight as she fights back tears.

Christmas is a time to be grateful for those you love and to hold them just a little bit tighter. And Home Alone, as silly as it may be at times, really drives that point home. Though there are many moments like it in other Christmas movies, there’s just something about Home Alone’s rendition that does it the best. It’s not over the top, but it’s just effective enough to thaw even the coldest of hearts. Perhaps it’s the score on top that completes the whole package, but Home Alone truly encapsulates the magic of Christmas. It feels like a warm hug. Like for 103 minutes, all your worries can be forgotten, and you can just get lost in the whimsical world that Chris Columbus has created. And for that, Home Alone is rightfully a Christmas classic.

Home Alone is available to stream on DISNEY+ in the U.S.

WATCH ON DISNEY+

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