Chris Columbus

Home Alone

Year: 1990
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Written By: John Hughes

When we reached this movie in the collection months ago we tried to watch and review it but it just didn’t feel right.  It can be difficult to get into a Christmas movie as Halloween season approaches so we decided to postpone this review.  The season has arrived now and with Christmas just days away the time to review this movie has finally come.  This movie has everything needed to set the tone for the holiday.  Family frustration, lights, snow, Christmas songs, and a smoking Santa are all on board here.  What gives this one an edge over others is that it also has bandits, and the most bad ass kid of all time.

I was six years old when this movie came out and at my age Kevin McCallister was practically a God.  He did something that all kids around my age dreamed of but in reality would never be able to handle.  I specifically remember my mother telling me one time that could never do this after pointing out a major mess Kevin had made and then telling me I would never have cleaned it up as he appears to have done later in the film.  To that I now say “Ha! Yeah, that’s the thing I couldn’t have handled….” Kevin McCallister was a kid with the where with all to not only survive on his own and keep his house clean, but he also thwarted criminals. They may have been two of the dumbest criminals in the world but that just made the movie more fun. The criminals may have been stupid, but Kevin had some master planning skills when it came to setting booby traps.  Something else I think all kids at my age strived for in the early 90s.  The Goonies had seen to that.

When this movie came out it was an instant hit and went on to gross over $285 million. It topped Ghostbusters as the highest grossing comedy of all time. I don’t know that this movie was better than Ghostbusters but it is a pretty awesome movie in a completely different way.  John Hughes was a great filmmaker and had a knack for making movies that made their mark on society.  What I think is interesting in this movie is how you can see John Hughes in it.  The scene where Kevin is looking at himself in the mirror and talking is so similar to the one we saw in Ferris Bueller when Ferris is getting ready. Specifically the combing of his hair while giving a monologue to himself, and singing with the comb as a microphone. It was really unfortunate to lose Hughes back in 2009, but he left us plenty to remember him for and this movie is high up on that list.

I love the cast for this movie.  Macaulay Culkin was incredible in the role of Kevin McCallister.  He had a lot on his shoulders as the center of the film and the kid handled it with what looked like all the potential in the world.  America fell in love with him in this role but things never really panned out for him.  I am aware he has an unfortunate story to his career but I do not know enough to write about it.  I do remember once hearing that My Girl was what destroyed his career.  In that movie he played a part in which he died and I remember hearing somewhere that dying in that movie turned the audience off of him.  I don’t know if that is true or not but I think it sucks that things worked out for him the way they did. I saw a couple of his efforts to come back years ago in the movie Saved and the show Kings but those didn’t get him anywhere.  No matter what happens though he will always be remembered for this film and the role he played.  He is the biggest reason for how successful this movie was really.  I honestly couldn’t imagine any other kid playing this part and having the same kind of charisma and comedy that Macaulay Culkin had.

He wasn’t alone in being great in this movie.  I think Catherine O’Hara was terrific as the mother.  She has graced so many movies I loved and given the influence this movie had on me I always tend to think of her as a mother.  That same influence made me always think fondly of John Heard as a father too but the only other thing I have seen him in was The Sopranos and his role in the show killed that image. I think Joe Pesci is awesome and respect the fact that he can star in a family comedy like this.  That man has played some of the most savage characters ever and he drops the F-bomb like nobody else, except maybe Billy Bob Thorton. Pesci was great in this movie but Daniel Stern should not go unmentioned.  He is the goofier of the two idiot criminals and he was very funny in the role.  Speaking of people who shouldn’t go unmentioned, John Candy had a role in this film.  John Candy was a great actor and a very funny personality.  He died when I was a teenager and every time I see him now I wish he had lived longer and given us more movies.

This is not my favorite Christmas movie but nevertheless it is one of the best.  I think it is right up there with A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and Die Hard. All of those movies are really old now and that says something about the Christmas movies they make these days.  If you are looking for a movie to get you into the spirit of the holidays I strongly suggest this one, or any of the others I just mentioned.  It takes a special movie to get you in the spirit for this holiday and this one does that in spades.  This was a movie that set the tone for the decade to follow and it will be remembered for all time. You don’t need me to tell you this movie is worth your time because you undoubtedly already know.  I hear that the younger generation is confused by the movie because today we are all so connected through technology that it would never happen and that is a shame.  I hope today’s youth can still find something to appreciate about this movie because it is awesome and deserves to be appreciated.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have always loved this movie. This is the first film I remember watching when I was a little girl and I remember laughing the hardest that I had ever laughed at the time. This is a classic Christmas movie and very close to my heart, along with almost every other person my age.

homealoneI actually really like this poster. It has the window in the back, with the robbers peeking through, and then Kevin is front and center in his signature hands-to-the-face scream pose. They even created a very recognizable logo for this movie. That doesn’t always happen, but I do like when it happens and it works.

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The Goonies

Year: 1985
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Steven Spielberg (story) and Chris Columbus (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

What’s funny is that Amber and I didn’t plan on watching this movie tonight.  We both had bad days at work though and this movie seemed like just the thing to salvage the day. This is a feel good movie if there ever was one and it is beloved by our generation as well as others.  It’s funny and exciting with a story that can hold the interest of anyone. It’s one of those movies where a lot of talented people came together to make something great, and it will probably live on forever.

Spielberg is a kid at heart and has an incredible ability to relate to children and get the most out of them as actors.   He has been renowned for his work with children for his entire career and movies like this give him the reputation he enjoys today.  He served as Producer for this movie after writing the story for it.  He gave the directing job and screenwriting job to Richard Donner and Chris Columbus respectively. The cast was made up of mostly children but they all brought great personalities to the story.  Sean Astin was great taking on the most responsibility he had ever had acting.  He has gone on to have a fantastic career as an adult actor appearing in many memorable films including the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This was the film debut for Josh Brolin and he was great as the older brother.  I have always thought it was weird how his career remained practically dormant for the next twenty years and then he suddenly blew up and is in seemingly everything now. This movie also sports one of the many memorable roles Corey Feldman turned in as a young child actor.  I liked many of the movies he was in throughout the 80s.

I also love all three of the Fratellis and the actors that played the parts.  Joe Pantoliano is typically great in everything he does but he specifically thrives in this kind of role.  He has a villainous quality to him but can also be really light-hearted and humorous when he needs to be.  In my mind though, no matter how many memorable characters he plays, he will always be “Guido the killer pimp.” Robert Davi has a real nasty look to him that makes him great for roles playing bad guys or cops.  Anne Ramsey as Mama Fratelli was great.  She looks the part playing a wicked and intimidating woman.  She really put on a memorable performance in this movie and instilled in me a fear of older rough looking women.

This movie takes me back because it was one I fell in love with at a really young age of 5 or 6.  It’s a movie that makes us all wish we were young again.  It fills us with unrealistic desires for what our childhoods could have been and warms our hearts by inspiring our own memories from that age.  This is a great movie that is timeless and can be enjoyed by all generations.  If you have not seen it I would suggest you check it out, it is worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The Goonies is one of the best movies and one of those movies that almost everyone I know has seen and can quote. I can’t say a bad thing about it.

The movie poster is to the left. It isn’t one of my favorites, yet it sticks to the style of the times. I think it is very much like Steven Spieldberg to do an illustration like cover and it reminds me a lot of Indiana Jones in some ways. Check out that sweet gradient in the typography.

NEXT MOVIE: Gran Torino (2008)