The many extraordinary events that ultimately led to a botched crime spree and a Christmas classic.
This is for Mr. and Mrs. McCallister. We’ve all heard many an internet critic go about shaming Home Alone’s parents for leaving their 8-year-old behind for the Holidays. However, upon thorough examination, I believe the premise of Home Alone, through great screenwriting from John Hughes, delicately lays out a ballet of specific, chronological events that make leaving Kevin McCallister home alone during the Christmas of 1990 not only believable, but in no way the fault of parental negligence alone.
Spoiler: These guys don’t even factor into it
I’d even go so far as to posit that the film takes child endangerment very seriously, which is why it quietly unspools a near impossible series of details that solidly justify the act of accidentally leaving a child behind during the Holidays. Were any tile in this beautiful mosaic removed, the whole premise would crumble, and Kevin McCallister could very well have successfully boarded that plane to Paris. (Or at the very least, his disappearance would’ve been noticed, causing the whole family to merely miss the flight.) Being generous, I’ve uncovered found SIXTEEN crucial details that go down before the Wet Bandits even show up!
1. The McCallisterS Have Too Many Children
This is not only the root of many of society’s problems, it’s the very foundation of the McCallister’s oversight. Kevin McCallister alone has four siblings (Linnie, Megan, Jeff and Buzz), truly an unthinkable number in today’s economy. Complicating matters further, there are also six McCallister cousins (Heather, Sondra, Rod, Tracey, Brooke and Fuller.) Combine that with four parents, and yes, you “have fifteen people in this house.” The McCallisters have enough family members to stack an NFL team with a few subs on the bench. And without a couple of competent coaches, the McCallister house is always a mouse fart away from absolute chaos at any given time. I don’t need to tell parents that having more than one kid raises your prospects for inevitable calamity, but the McCallisters’ situation is exponentially worse. And that’s just setting the stage…
2. Nobody Packs Kevin’s Suitcase
Kevin is self aware enough to know he’s too young to pack his own suitcase, and his siblings all, rather dickishly, refuse to help. They claim his mother will eventually pack it for him, but since we never see her do it, it’s safe to assume she never does, which is one of many minor threads in this carefully woven tapestry that leaves Kevin unaccounted for: If his luggage arrived at the airport without him, that’d require an explanation and Home Alone’s jig is up.
3. Kevin Doesn’t Sleep Where He Normally Sleeps
Obviously, I’ve seen this movie a billion times, as have many of you. I’m seriously trying to only bore you with only the details pertinent to leaving Kevin McCallister home alone (in Home Alone.) But let it not be said the whole opening is rich with hidden clues and wonderful mystery. Mr. McCallister establishes that Micro Machines can be lethal when left on the floor. Is Angels with Filthy Souls the movie Uncle Frank won’t let Kevin watch? Kevin’s mother hints at a kenneled family dog we never see (and provides yet another subtle reason why nobody is regularly checking on the house AND why they have a doggy door.) But perhaps my favorite enigma is WHERE IS KEVIN’S ROOM?! I’ve always assumed he slept on the bunk bed with Big Pete, but we’re never told for certain, and the only bedrooms we see Kevin in later in the film belong to Buzz and his parents. But where exactly Kevin isn’t sleeping tonight, is far less important than where he is. Which for tonight, is on a floor above everyone else, on hideaway bed in the attic.
4. Buzz Is An Asshole
This may not seem important, but it foreshadows so very much for our purposes, to say nothing of also presenting Chekhov’s B-B Gun and other pieces of Kevin’s arsenal we’ll see later in the film. The latter isn’t relevant to this article’s purpose, I’m just pointing out that the early scene in Buzz’s room is the furthest thing from inconsequential.
5. The McCallisters Didn’t Order Enough Cheese Pizza
Yes, kids are born stupid. But I can certainly remember wanting to eat only plain cheese pizza before I discovered the glory of toppings (Pineapple 4 Ever!) So, yeah, I feel ya, Kevin. And a kinder sibling probably would’ve felt for him too. Perhaps even offered to pick the toppings off another pie so Kev could enjoy a slice of plain cheese! But since we’ve established that Buzz is a dick, he torments him, spits chewed food at his youngest sibling and…
6. A Fight Ensues
Kevin rushes Buzz, plunging the home into further chaos. If that weren’t enough, the two brothers knock over a couple of drinks. Why is this its own entry? I’d like to think if it were anyone other than Buzz, (again, see entry 4) the damage would’ve been lessened. But this isn’t even as important as…
7. The McCallisters Are Drinking Milk With Pizza
I hear you: Milk sucks and the thought of washing down pizza with it makes me want to puke. But what should’ve come off as merely odd and disgusting is actually a vital detail. Kevin’s mother stating “Drink the milk, I want to get rid of it.” is not a throwaway line. Any other dinner beverage, soda, water, etc., would’ve shown the contents underneath the spilled liquid. But the horrific choice of milk is a purposeful one, since it’s opaque and viscous enough to hide yet another piece of the puzzle…
8. Kevin’s Plane Ticket Is Accidentally Thrown Away
This is a relatively recent discovery to most of the internet, yet it’s importance to The Alonening cannot be understated. In a desperate attempt to save the passports and other flight details the family is (for some reason) eating over, Mr. McCallister accidentally chucks Kevin’s ticket in the garbage.
Most of us couldn’t even see this during our repeated sub-200p VHS screenings, but it’s yet another small detail laid forth to eliminate further doubt from the movie’s premise. “Didn’t the parents notice Kevin didn’t claim his ticket at the gate?” No, wrote Mr. Hughes, it was discarded the night before, smartass. Presumably, the same goes for Kevin’s passport.
9. Fuller Is A Bed Wetter
The whole McCallister clan is aware of Fuller’s propensity for pee pee. Even though Kevin is punished as the sole aggressor for the fight with Buzz, his mother grants him one last reprieve before his banishing upstairs: She finds Fuller another place to sleep. But since we’ve already established Kevin is not sleeping in his normal room, we now also know he’s sleeping in a different room alone. With nary a temporary nor a permanent roommate on this night, the buddy system fails Kevin. There is no one left to casually see if he’s awake, or even alive, amidst the morning chaos, as he resides an entire floor above the rest of this house.
BONUS ENTRY: Kevin Wishes His Family Would Disappear
You’d think this’d be irrelevant, since it’s this didn’t necessarily cause anything to happen. However, it does explain why Kevin McCallister makes zero effort to reconnect with his family. To Kevin, his wish simply came true. His parents aren’t on a plane to Europe, they’ve magically disappeared. And given how shitty the entire family has treated each other so far, I don’t blame him for basking in some Me Time. As Macaulay Culkin himself pointed out recently, the little guy didn’t even call the cops on a coupla bandits because this was the life he wanted.
11. There Is A Storm, Power Lines Go Down
Christmas decorations scatter, tree branches tickle the house, and we see a powerline explode. I think it’d be pushing it to make “THEY SLEPT IN” a separate entry, but you know, what working parents of five have ever slept until 8am ever?! I give the screenwriter so much credit, I have to believe there’s a deleted scene showing Buzz and Kevin spilling NyQuil into everyone’s drinks.
Whatever the case, the power goes out, thus none of the McCallisters’ alarms sound off and everyone oversleeps. Not only does this make an already chaotic household even more disorganized, nobody notices Kevin is not around or even awake in the morning. (Side Note: This also explains why the phone is out later. Neat!)
12. The McCallisters Have A Mischievous Neighbor
A lot of this is Mitch Murphy’s fault. He’s the nosy kid with the total lack of boundaries from across the way who wanders over to bother they airport shuttle drivers. That, in and of itself, provides yet another mild distraction, but once this snot-nosed punk jumps in the van to poke through the McCallisters’ luggage (seriously, Mitch?!), his noggin is mistaken for Kevin’s during Heather’s headcount. Giving a 12a Award here for this being Chicago, thus cold enough to merit an identity-concealing winter hat (this wouldn’t have been an issue in Orlando) and a 12b Award for Buzz still being an asshole and creating further distraction during his cousin’s important body count.
13. Heather McCallister Splits The Kids Randomly Between Two Vans
As a bonafide adult, Cousin Heather begins to emerge as a minor villain in Home Alone. Having already botched the head count, Heather assigns half of the kids into one van and half into the other. RANDOMLY. This certainly accounts for why no one in either van would be concerned with Kevin’s absence, but… there’s simply no reason for it. Kevin’s immediate family accounts for 7 people, and 8 people for Uncle Frank. That’s about as half as you’re gonna get with an odd number, so why not make the proper parent responsible for their respective children? “McCallister Prime in this van, McCallister Cousins in this van!” That way only Heather herself, a McCallister floater and child of the Parisian Uncle, would be the only one who could’ve possibly been left home alone. If there were any justice in the world, that’s what would’ve happened, instead of her infuriating dereliction of duty.
14. The McCallisters Are Late
This is an obvious one, but it’s worth emphasizing the “Run, Run, Rudolph” airport scene. Being this late for an important flight is obviously very stressful and distracting. But the McCallisters are running through O’Hare at full speed, which entails a manic breathlessness and keeping your eyes ever forward. How many of us have been running late to the airport and forgotten a phone charger or something? I was once running so late for a flight once I left my belt, keys and laptop at security. Speaking of…
BONUS ENTRY. It’s 1990
Cell phones, with which to call or text back and forth, were not only far less prevalent during the Bush Senior years, the McCallisters are also at the mercy of downed phone lines in need of service during the Christmas Holidays. Furthermore, uh… 9/11 is over a decade away. Kevin’s ID and ticket would’ve been much more of an issue after the towers fell, where even carrying an extra passport could’ve likely earned Mr. McCallister a full-on cavity search from the TSA. But alas, back in those days, before we sacrificed our collective dignity in the name of the catching terrorists with metal detectors, anybody who wanted to could breeze through airport security and just hang out at any gate. I don’t believe it either and I was there!
15. The McCallister Kids Are Seated Randomly Throughout The Plane
With that pre-9/11 context out of the way, you now know why the McCallisters are so easily able to haul ass from drop-off to their gate. Plus, you can also better understand how a ticket agent would wave the whole brood onboard without so much as glancing at their passes. Trusting, yes, but his was also a time before a billion ridiculous seating hierarchies and 24 hour pre-check-ins, so the kids are told to take whatever seats are available while continuing to run at full speed. With none of the McCallister children sitting together, or presumably even within eyeshot, Kevin’s absence doesn’t raise any eyebrows. Which brings us to our final entry, and perhaps the most far-fetched and/or egregious…
16. The McCallister Parents Are In First Class
This, I suppose, you can’t forgive the McCallister parents for. And please, try not to think about how wealthy the McCallisters are… because I couldn’t! Oh yes, I calculated it: $240 dollars worth of pizza alone, adjusted for inflation, and still no cheese for Kevin! The Home Alone house last sold for $1.5 million dollars in 2012. I doubt I’ll ever be able to fly myself and a loved one out to Paris, but the McCallisters managed to swing FIFTEEN seats during the Holidays. Checking the prices on flights from Chicago to Charles Charles De Gaulle, economy tickets averaged around $2700 each, making for a ballpark total of $40,000 (not including the emergency flights back after they realize Kevin is missing) Estimating conservatively, The McCallister’s initial Christmas travel expenses fall ten grand short of what the average American makes ALL YEAR. And these bourgeoisie pricks still put themselves in first class, and the kids in coach, including Fuller who was somewhere between 6 and 7 around the time of filming. I wish I didn’t look into this, but with everything under a microscope, how could I not share? Because with this entry, we’ve finally arrived at the final piece of the Home Alone puzzle.
So to recap
11 KIDS + JERKASS BUZZ – KEVIN’S LUGGAGE + KEVIN SLEEPING IN A DIFFERENT ROOM – FULLER – CHEESE PIZZA + MILK – KEVIN’S PLANE TICKET + A WISH – ELECTRICITY + MITCH MURPHY – HEATHER’S DUTIES + 1990S TECHNOLOGY + TARDINESS x 2 RANDOM SEATING ARRANGEMENTS =
That’s it! But if you wanna hear more, Dave Rudden and Chris are going even further in depth on Home Alone on an upcoming podcast!
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