John Heard

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.

The Chumscrubber

Year: 2005
Directed By: Arie Posin
Written By: Arie Posin

RYAN’S REVIEW

If you are asking yourself “what the hell is The Chumscrubber?” then I will join you.  I find myself wondering that exact same thing sometimes when I grab a neighboring movie off the rack.  This movie has survived on our shelf for years since it came out on DVD and I’m remembering why all over again now that we are watching it. This movie was recommended to us by a friend in college and we were both caught off guard when we really liked it. I can sometimes be too snobbish when it comes to movies and I rarely give these kind of B movies the time of day.  There are things I don’t like about this movie but enough things that I can relate to and appreciate that I felt compelled to own it after seeing it.

I have never been a fan of abusing prescription pills.  They will eat away at your brain and steal your soul.  Most of my experiences with them in the past have been bad and I have personally watched people get lost in the haze created by that crap.  I wish this movie had been about a different drug because I can understand and relate to the escape drugs offer during the vulnerable teenage years, but I think pills are too dangerous.  What I’m saying is if the movie had been about a simple recreational party drug I would feel more comfortable.  Prescription pills, the ones in this movie anyway, are the kind of drug that affect your emotions and change who you are. They aren’t to be toyed with or taken for granted because you can’t control them.  You might think you can but before you know it they are controlling you and you don’t even realize it.

I like the message this movie sends about the dangers of irresponsible parenting though.  This Alpha Dog-like scenario is only possible because of the inattention of the parents. The kids even continually tell their parents that they have kidnapped this kid but they don’t take them seriously and the situation progresses.  This movie highlights a serious problem in our society today because far too many parents fail to understand or pay any attention to their children.  I have mentioned before that I like to learn whatever I can from anything that I can and this movie teaches me valuable lessons about parenting.  If you fail to pay attention to your kids there are dangerous consequences, but it takes more than just attention.  You have to make a concentrated effort to understand them and support them.  These are challenges I face in the future with two girls, and I’m glad I have movies like this to remind me how important it is that I do things right.  As difficult as it might be, as parents we have to remember to put our children first.  It’s easy to get absorbed in out own problems, we are all human, but when that happens it is our children who suffer. Our children are growing, they are developing their personalities and establishing identities of their own. If we as parents ignore who they are becoming then we are equally as responsible when they turn out to have made the completely wrong choices and turned into monsters.  We can’t trust them to make the right choices because they don’t know things as we do.  Some children are better than others in making their own decisions, but when it comes to that it’s all about knowing your child again.  Understanding them well enough to know what they can and can’t handle can allow us to use the appropriate discretion when raising them, and those decisions have to be handled carefully in a well thought out manner. Parenting is no joke, it’s hard as hell and you can’t afford to screw it up because the consequences are too great.  Let’s take a lesson from The Chumscrubber, when we fail to do our part and start ignoring them, our children start getting high on pills, committing suicide, or kidnapping and stabbing each other.

I usually write an entire paragraph all about the cast of every movie but I’m really not in the mood to do that right now.  This movie has a big ensemble cast that is worth mention but I don’t want to go into all of them, there are bigger names and smaller names but they all do their job well.  I must mention Glenn Close not only because she is awesome but because I am a big fan of her work both on The Shield and Damages. I have never heard of Arie Posin and he seems to be a one hit wonder but he made a great movie too many people didn’t see.  I have always felt that movies were better and more personal when the director also wrote the script.  This is a good example of what I have in mind when I say that.

Now that we near the end of this movie that we haven’t watched in so long I am not only reminded of why we bought it but I am proud to own it.  It has truly been too long since I have seen this movie and I will have to make it a point not to wait so long before seeing it again. This is a great movie that gives the viewer a lot to think about. I think you should definitely check this movie out because it is worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I agree with everything Ryan said above. This film really is a hit at suburban American parents. They aren’t paying attention to what their children are doing, they are just too consumed with their own lives.

This movie revolves around the selling of drugs to high school kids. Most of the kids are taking prescription drugs.The ironic thing is, while the kids are the ones abusing the drugs, the adults in the film are probably the ones that should actually be taking the medications. They are all fucked up in their own way. I want to learn from this movie. I do not want to fall through the cracks and be absent-minded when it comes to my daughters, like the parents in this film.

I know Ryan mentioned Glenn Close being in this film, so I thought I would go on and mention some of the other cast-members. Jamie Bell is the main character, the one the story really revolves around. You may have seen him in King Kong (the newer one, obviously) and Billy Elliot. Camilla Belle plays the cute, popular high school girl. You may have seen her in 10,000 BC or When A Stranger Calls. William Fichtner is also in this film and plays the psychiatrist parent of Jamie Bell. He is a very well-known guy and has been in films like The Dark KnightArmageddon, and Crash. The last one I will mention is John Heard, who plays Officer Bratley. If you don’t know, he was the dad in Home Alone. Need I say more?

This film is well worth your time, and isn’t known by that many people. If you do watch it, feel free to chime in down in the comments and let us know what you think about it.

NEXT MOVIE: Cinderella Man (2005)