Considered a holiday classic by many, Home Alone actually took awhile to receive the special edition DVD treatment. Finally in 2006 we received a “Family Fun Edition” of the film, which gave us an array of new extras, but Fox wasn’t done with the film yet. With the advent of Blu-ray, the “Family Fun Edition” once again saw a release, arriving just in time for the Holiday 2008 season. With the film arriving on home video in high definition for the first time, this family classic has never been better to enjoy.
Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) has become the man of the house, overnight! Accidentally left behind when his family rushes off on Christmas vacation, Kevin gets busy decorating the house for the holidays. But he’s not decking the halls with tinsel and holly. Two bumbling burglars are trying to break in, and Kevin’s rigging a bewildering battery of booby traps to welcome them!
I can’t tell you how much of a big film this was in my house when I was growing up. With an array of holiday movies to choose from each year, it was also Home Alone that we watched over and over. It was also one of view series on VHS that we owned, so we were always able to watch the first two films back to back (the subsequent releases came out when I was a little too old for the series, not to mention that…well, they both sucked). In a way I’m almost surprised they haven’t revisited the series, with some sort of modern update where Kevin is the father…I shouldn’t have typed that; they’ll probably toss it into production. Look for it in 2009, folks!
In all seriousness, the amount of fun families of all ages can have with this film is genuinely shocking. While the second film offered a greater landscape to play with (and I admit being a bit partial to the second one over the first film, though both are highly enjoyable), the first film kept things contained with Kevin on his own turf. It’s a genuinely entertaining film from beginning to end and the idea of being home alone and being able to do whatever you want is always a dream for a young kid, so watching this film when I was younger really was a treat. Of course I doubt any kid would have had the ingenuity to do what Kevin did in the film, so that’s a bit of a leaping point, but also part of the fun.
Something that really stood out to me when watching it again for the first time in years was how timeless the film felt. While hairstyles and technology of the 90s is prevalent in the film, nothing really feels as if it’s aged poorly in this film. The attitudes of the children and adults in this film are unchanged from what you might find in parents and kids today (for better or worse) and as unbelievable as some of the situations in the film are, it’s still a really grounded film. Not that we really watch these types of films to be reminded of reality, but the reunion scenes between Kevin and his parents are especially touching.
But the film, 103 minutes in length, is not comprised solely of touching moments and it’s in these areas where we get the most enjoyment. The torture that Kevin puts the burglars through is absolutely hilarious and while it certainly makes Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern look like very inept individuals, it doesn’t make it any less entertaining. It really was like a great trip down memory lane watching this film again and my only regret is I couldn’t follow it up with the second film immediately after (seriously, why have we not seen a new edition of that one?).
Overall this John Hughes classic that made Macaulay Culkin a household name one of the highest paid child stars in history is as enjoyable to watch today as it was back in 1990. Everyone involved did a fantastic job and my only regret is that you didn’t really see many of the stars in this film move onto bigger and better things. Still, no matter what way you cut it, Home Alone is an absolute classic. Highly Recommended.
Fox has released Home Alone: Family Fun Edition in a single disc Elite Blu-ray case with inserts advertising their releases on the format as well as a notice to keep your firmware up-to-date. Disc art mimics the cover art and menus are simple and easy to navigate, although I do have a complaint about them, which stretches across most Fox releases. The special features are stuck inside this little scroll box area that takes up about 20% of the screen, while the rest of the screen real estate is spent on…well, not much. Seems like a complete waste of a 1080p image, but oh well. As a side note, the disc (as well as most recent Fox releases) won’t play on my PC, as it states that my firmware needs to be updated. Since PC’s use software to decode it, I’m not sure what the issue as I’ve updated both PowerDVD and WinDVD and neither will play the discs, due to the BD+ encryption variant. Very strange.
Video for this film arrives in an AVC encoded 1.85:1 1080p @ 33mbps transfer. Fox consistently has some of the highest bit rates when it comes to video encoding and this transfer here really doesn’t disappoint. It may be nearing twenty years in age, but Home Alone still looks great and boasts plenty of picture detail from beginning to end. Whether it’s the fully lit houses surrounded in Christmas lights or the fuzz on the sweaters people wear, Home Alone is a great looking film from beginning to end. It also manages to sound great, courtesy of its 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track that fills the surrounds with the sounds of falling burglars and the films holiday soundtrack. Also available are English Dolby Surround and French, Spanish and Portuguese DTS5.1 tracks. Also included are English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean subtitles.
The bad news: the extras here are all the same as the “Family Fun” edition. The good news: they’re all great and well worth watching. First up is the Commentary by Director Chris Columbus and Star Macaulay Culkin, which is something I was greatly looking forward to listening. The repertoire the two have here is palpable and the two just generally seem to have a great time watching the film together. Columbus is also frequent with the bean spilling when it comes to how some of the SF/X shots were done, as well as the difficulties they had shooting the film in all. All said and done, this is one of the better tracks I’ve heard, simply because it’s clear how much fun the pair had making the film as well as watching it again after all of these years.
The rest of the extras vary in quality, although the majority are worth checking out at least once. First we have the 1990 Press Featurette (3:52) that is easily ignored as it is mostly fluff, while The Making of (19:25) is a retrospective piece interviewing cast and crew about their experiences and thoughts on the film. Mac Cam: Behind the Scenes with Macaulay Culkin (4:46) is actually quite an entertaining featurette, with Culkin going around set interviewing cast and crew alike. How to Burglar-Proof Your Home: The Stunts of Home Alone (7:04) is a brief piece on how the stunts in the film were accomplished (in the age of pre-CGI), while Home Alone Around the World (3:53) shows the film in various languages (kind of like The Simpsons clips included on the season sets). Where’s the Buzz Now? (3:03) is a rather dull piece on where the character might have ended up if he was real, while Angels with Filthy Souls (2:06), the film that Kevin watched the movie, is shown here in its entirety. Finally we have a decent array of Deleted Scenes/Alternate Takes (15:04) and a Blooper Reel (2:04) to check out.
Overall this is a jam packed release and comes Highly Recommended if you don’t already own the film. It’s a great looking film on the format and the extras are more than worth your time to check out.
Home Alone: Family Fun Edition is now available on Blu-ray.