Movie Critic Essay
The film I chose to critique this week is the classic family comedy Home Alone (1990) directed by Chris Columbus. Leading actors in this film is eight year old Kevin McCallister played by Macaulay Culkin, along with Peter McCallister, the father, played by John Heard, Mrs. McCallister played by Catherine O’Hara, Marv, who is the first burglar, played by Daniel Stern, and Harry, the other burglar played by Joe Pesci. Other characters in this film are Buzz the brother, mean Uncle Frank, and creepy old man Marley.
The title of the film hints to the audience that someone is home alone, but the viewer does not know what happens in the story until watching the film, which makes it more interesting. This film is about a large family who gets together for a Christmas trip to Paris, but the night before they leave there is a wind storm, which knocks out all of the power, which means their alarm clock does not go off, and they sleep in. This puts them in a mad rush to get to the airport, in turn leaving Kevin behind, and the rest continue on to a fun family adventure.
One part of a filmmaker’s goal among others is to create the right mood through a believable mise-en-scene; different settings that took place in Home Alone were McCallister’s home, the airport, inside the airplane, church, a grocery store, the tree house, and Santa exhibit. The two filming locations used in this film were in Chicago, Illinois, and in Paris, France. This film mostly consisted of realistic settings, revealing the character of each individual. In the beginning of the film, without any subjects or words, I could tell a little about the subjects and background because of the way the filmmakers arranged the scene.
They showed McCallister’s neighborhood full of snow and houses decorated in Christmas lights that told me it took place in the winter and during the holiday season. The McCallister home was also very large with several windows and rooms that told me they may be wealthy, especially as the year was 1990. I thought the actors fit this film perfect. The acting they conveyed is credible and they definitely bring their characters to life. It was not just about their acting, but I thought they each connected with each of their names too such as Marv, Harry, Peter, mean Uncle Frank, and especially Kevin.
The subject’s appearance added even more to their roles, such as Harry and Marv wearing dark color clothing, fuzzy curly hair on Marv with a beard creating a dirty look, some gloves, and Harry with his gold tooth with his beanie. They fit the typical burglar stereotype of the time perfectly. The settings and subjects were filmed with good spacing throughout the film, even with most of the film taking place at the McCallister’s home. Editing was appropriate for Home Alone (1990). I think the editing process is what will make or break any film.
The appropriate music was added where it needed to be added, such as when the family are in a hurry running in the airport trying to make their flight. The viewer can hear their steps, chattering, and the music playing “Run run Rudolph…” making the viewer believe the adventure and feel the time constraint. The time of this film was appropriate as well, long enough to tell its story and get its message across but not too long where the viewer gets bored or zones out. The camera shots and angles were all well done. Sometimes it was from the subject’s point of view to other angles facing the subject.
The scene transition to another was smooth and made sense. It was long enough to have a scene with Kevin being home alone, to what the burglars were planning to do as well as going back to the family and the parents showing what they are doing. The sounds used in this film were effective. The different sounds made by objects and people enhanced the director’s intention for every scene. These sounds make the viewer more involved in the film. In the beginning of the film, there were ambient sounds such as the wind blowing hard, tree limbs scratching on a window as well as electric pole wires breaking lose.
All these sounds led me to believe that there was a wind storm with the possibility the family was going to lose power, and sure enough they did. There were also sounds made by people other than spoken words, such as when creepy old man Marley was shoveling the snow and also scenes when Kevin walks on the snow. One scene, Kevin is being followed by the burglars, and Kevin turns around because he feels it, suddenly Harry makes the whistling sound looking around which fit the scene. Another scene, when Harry and Marv break into the Murphy’s home, Marv gets cocky putting everything in a bag with his crowbar making loud clattering sounds.
There is a scene where the camera shot is on the leather boots worn by old man Marley and the viewer can hear the boots squeak making the man more freighting, especially for an eight year old child like Kevin. The audience is led to believe that this old man is mean until the viewer discovers otherwise. Other sounds like instrumental music specifically composed for this film is great. This film’s music makes it unique, and it would be easily distinguished where it was first used if the same music is ever used again in the future.
In addition, being made to believe the film takes place around Christmas, there is a large amount of Christmas music throughout the film. In my opinion, the sounds and music used in Home Alone are great contributions to making this film a classic. This film is definitely a film that could and should watch with your family and with your kids. Especially children around the same age as Kevin who have that typical thought that family is not cool because by the end of the film, they are going have this film stuck in their head.
If something happens in the future where they want to stay home alone, the parents might even say “No, don’t you remember what happened in Home Alone? ” I grew up watching this film a lot around the holidays and I know I was excited every time it came on and as an adult, I can still look forward to watching this film with anyone, especially my son. For some reason, in December when I get all my Christmas movies out, Home Alone definitely gives me a warm fuzzy feeling like when the mother is doing everything she can to get to her son.
I know my parents would have done the same as I would do too with my son. I had feelings of joy and laughter throughout the movie, especially the scenes when the burglars fell for the traps that Kevin set up. They were hilarious! The film’s cinematography was effective, its color, and the quality of the film was good for coming out two decades ago. There were several scenes shot at night with the only lighting used seemed to be coming from the street light poles and Christmas lights.
Other scenes like those filmed outside, he daylight along with some artificial lighting was used, and the rest of the scenes seem like ambient lighting, in between soft and dim lighting. There were good camera shots and angles. There were close ups, long shots, medium shots, and under shots and the camera movement was steady from a one subject to another or onto an object. As far as the film placed in context, maybe it had the social attitude because it is more expressive in the way the characters talk to one another carelessly throughout the family whereas back then the audience would not see this in regular Christmas films and taken as “normal.
The film’s genre is comedy with adventure and a sub-genre of family comedy. I for one thought this film was very much enjoyable. I would have loved to see this film in the movie theaters when it first came out in 1990, but I was just seven years old and I was the type of child which could sit still in a movie theater for two hours. Home Alone along with its sequels will always remain as some of the best films to watch, especially for children. I would recommend anyone to watch this film.
I am not saying one will laugh hysterically, but it has a special message to it. By the end of this film, you will feel the love and will appreciate your family and I think that was the director’s intention. Without a doubt, I give this film a four star rating. It is a must watch if you have not seen it, and a must watch again if you have. This class has changed my opinion on film. From here on out I cannot take films for granted. It does not matter if it was filmed in 1950’s or a new film coming out in theaters. This class taught me to see movies different.
I think from here on out I will not be able to just sit back and enjoy a movie without starting to analyze the different aspects of the film. I just seen a new movie a couple of weeks ago in the movie theaters and I noticed I was analyzing it and learning from it. This class showed me how film is art. It is a knowledge being shared to the audience through motion picture. I have a large amount of respect for the work that is put into filmmaking now, including cinematographers, film editors, directors, actors, and more. I would recommend anyone interested in learning more about film to take this course.