Slapstick comedy drives entertaining 'Home Alone'

August 23, 1991|By Josh Mooney | Josh Mooney,Los Angeles Times Syndicate




This surprise hit of last Christmas is the reason you'll be seeing so many comedies on screen in the weeks and months to come (Hollywood likes to replicate the latest mega-hit). Without the benefit of major stars, producer/writer John Hughes and director Chris Columbus turned Mr. Hughes' 17th screenplay into the third-largest grossing film in American box-office history, thereby silencing critics who had suggested that Mr. Hughes had run out hits.

The film is essentially a big, colorful, loud "Three Stooges" episode, minus one Stooge, and plus the enjoyable screen presence of young Macauley Culkin. It's Christmas, and the McCallister family -- mom and dad (Katherine O'Hara and John Heard) and a handful of kids -- are rushing to get on a plane for Paris. Alas, in all the excitement, they leave the youngest one, 8-year-old Kevin, back at the house. Left alone, Kevin goes through the gamut of emotions, from fear to elation, and does his best to act like a grown-up, with occasionally funny/touching results. Mr. Columbus, no master at pacing, lets the film drag along until the appearance of Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, both fine character actors, who play bungling burglars determined to get into Kevin's house.

The traps he devises to keep them out are, of course, highly improbable, but they work. The slapstick quotient picks up significantly in the second half -- the gags range from clever to obvious.

There's no reason not to see this film, unless you feel strongly that grown men shouldn't indulge in such frivolous pursuits as this kind of filmmaking. Of course there's nothing frivolous about making money.

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