Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Mike of Screenkicker!. Thanks for the review, Mike! Let’s see his true thoughts on Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. 🙂

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Home Alone 2 – The original torture porn movie?

In 2006 the phrase ‘torture porn’ was coined. Torture porn is films that focus on the minutae of torture and violence in a completely gratuitous way. The title was first applied to the movies of directors like Eli Roth (Hostel) and James Wan (Saw) who shocked audiences with a different kind of violence. However there was a famous director who was making what could be interpreted as torture porn as far back as the early 90s. The director – John Hughes, the films – the Home Alone movies. Let me explain:

Home Alone 2 tells the story of psychopathic child Kevin McCallister, a precocious little shit with a fascination with methods of hurting other humans. Kevin knows he can’t perform these atrocities with his family around so he steals his father’s credit cards and cash, slips away at the airport and heads to the big apple. Here he commits fraud, associates with a crazy pigeon lady, and attempts to murder two petty crooks.

The movie climaxes with a final showdown between Kevin and the two burglars. If you’ve seen The Raid or Dredd you’ll have some idea what happens next. The burglars attempt to ascend a tower block to catch the bloodthirsty child. Things go very bad and here’s where the torture porn comes in. Among the sick ways that Kev tries to kill the unlucky victims are:

– repeatedly smashes Marv in the head with bricks
– fires staples into Harry’s testicles
– drops an iron on Marv’s face
– sets Harry on fire
– electrocutes Marv with an arc welder

There are many more forms of stomach-churning torture that really gives Hostel and Saw a run for their blood money. If you think about it Kevin is like a peer of other horror movie bad guys like Freddie Krueger and Jason Voerhees. Essentially he’s the original Jigsaw from Saw. Don’t get me wrong, Home Alone 2 is a great, Christmassy, fun, wish fulfilment fantasy and I watch it every year. My point is if you look really closely the movie becomes the perfect companion piece to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

Which in my book is a good thing. So remember – John Hughes invented torture porn with a children’s movie which makes him a subversive genius.

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**FYI: Mike is still accepting entries for a Blogathon he’s planning over at Screenkicker. All you need to do is “a piece about a movie and/or actor from where you live or where you’re from”. You can find the full details of this Blogathon HERE. Sounds like good fun, Mike! 🙂

Home Alone (1990) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rob of MovieRob. Thanks for the review, Rob! Let’s see what he thinks of Home Alone. 🙂

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“Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.” – Kevin McCallister

Number of Times Seen – 1 (3 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis –An 8 Year old kid gets left at home by accident when his family travels to France for Christmas. He must try to find a way to fend for himself and to keep 2 bumbling burglars from robbing his house.

My Take on it – Surprising, I have never seen this whole movie from start to end before I sat down to watch it for CPD’s amazing John Hughes Blogathon.

I have never been the biggest fan of Macaulay Culken and didn’t really think this movie would be enjoyable on a whole. Some of the clips I had seen in the past were funny, but I didn’t believe that they could keep it up for 100 minutes.

I put all my negative thoughts aside when I sat down with the hope of giving this one a chance.

In retrospect, I can now say that this movie was enjoyable to watch, but I don’t see myself wanting to watch it again in the near (or maybe even distant) future.

Hughes does a great job placing all the puzzle pieces at the beginning of the movie to make most of the plot seem plausible. I can conceivably believe that two large families traveling together and in a rush to catch a plane (yes, post-9/11, they wouldn’t have a chance of getting on that plane to France) would forget a kid. No parent, myself included would admit to having such a thing happen to them, but Hughes’ writing makes it at least seem plausible if not possible.

The burglars staking out the place dressed as cops and the lax security systems of the late 80’s also helps move the idea of the plot along.
When I think about it, the last few comments that I made actually prove that the concept of this movie and the way it was done is so timely and only worked up until 1990 or so because of all the technological advances since then. This is one of the few Hughes movies that I can currently think of that isn’t timeless and couldn’t be re-made well enough today. (I’m not advocating Hughes remakes or any remakes for that matter.)

Being the parent of a 9 year old and an 8 year old, I can’t imagine either of them or any of their friends for that matter being able to survive like Culken did over 4 days all alone. I’m not sure if this says something about today’s youth or something about the implausibility of a young kid being able to fend for himself so well.

I’m aware that I’m a strong advocate for suspension of disbelief when watching a movie, but I usually refer to unexplained science in a movie or things that might be plausible in certain movie worlds, but here I’m referring to the fact that very few (if any) 8 years olds could act as independent as Culkin does here and that actually somewhat disappoints me.

Besides that, the slapstick humor in this movie is great whether it be the ways Culken fends off the burglars, the way he can perfectly use a VCR remote to get a pizza or even the way he searches the house for things to do worked well.

This movie also has its sentimental parts, but I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with the mother and her quest to get back home and also with the caricature of the neighbor Old man Marley (perhaps a reference to Jacob Marley since this takes place around Christmas????) who is used as a plot device similar to the furnace to show us that even though he can fend for himself, he is still a kid who fears things only a kid would be able to fear. His character tho is not developed at all and his appearance at the end is strange if not inexplicable.

Nice cameo by John Candy here.

Bottom Line – As enjoyable as this was, I think Hughes was much better at creating teenage characters as opposed to younger ones and I’m quite glad he didn’t make too many from a kids perspective. Recommended!

Rating – Globe Worthy

CPD Classics: Big (1988) Review

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A note before I start the review:

Since starting this blog, I’ve only reviewed movies I’ve just recently watched instead of attempting to review old favorites of mine. This felt too difficult for me as I’m not always great with words & feel like I won’t do these movies justice. I’ll attempt to do very SHORT reviews (probably on Fridays) where I talk briefly about what I like about some of my favorite films or films I think deserve a bit more recognition than they get (be warned: there will probably be a lot of 80’s movies because of my age). In most cases, I won’t be re-watching them as I know them so well. I’m starting with Big as I did re-watch that recently.

Big (1988)

Directed by Penny Marshall

Starring:
Tom Hanks
David Moscow
Elizabeth Perkins
Robert Loggia
John Heard
Jared Rushton
Jon Lovitz
Mercedes Ruehl

Running time: 104 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
12-year-old Josh Baskin makes a wish to be “big” on an old carnival fortune telling machine after he’s embarrassed in front of a girl he likes when he’s told he’s too short for a ride. To his surprise, he wakes up the next morning as a 30-year-old man.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

I was in my early teens when this came out & remember going to it in a group with several relatives as it was such a hugely successful family film at the time. I feel like there are very few “family” films like Big these days. Nowadays it would star an Adam Sandler-type instead of someone like Tom Hanks and the humor would be so dumbed down and immature that only the youngest members in the audience would enjoy it while they’d throw in an occasional “dirty” joke to try to entertain the bored adults. The family would walk away from the film (after it’s predictably sentimental ending) with maybe the kids thinking it was okay but the adults just glad that they got to rest for a couple hours while their kids were entertained.

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Big appeals to everyone between the ages of 8 and 108. I liked it as a (moody) early teen, my mom liked it, my aunt liked it, my grandma liked it. Everyone liked it in 1988, right? It was a nicer time. The film is wholesome without being annoyingly so (I mean, there’s even some PG boobies-in-bra action). Tom Hanks is on top form as a 12-year-old stuck in the body of a 30-year-old and I can’t imagine anyone else nailing that role the way he did. He’s brilliant and totally believable. We don’t get a bunch of stupid high jinks – we get a young boy who at first is very scared then slowly starts to do his best to adjust to his new life as an adult. We never forget that he’s 12, though, even as we see him mature after getting his first job and “girl”friend – Hanks plays the role perfectly from start to finish. And how loveable was he as we watched this “big kid” playing with toys & spending his paychecks on all the stupid things a 12-year-old boy would and getting the pretty but uptight female co-worker to loosen up & jump on his trampoline?? And then there’s the big piano scene! You have to love Hanks & Robert Loggia dancing on the big piano and playing Heart & Soul. If you don’t love that, I want to hear from you in the comments below! That scene is an all-time classic.

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Big is a heartwarming coming-of-age comedy with a character who behaves in a very realistic way to an unrealistic situation. We never forget that we’re watching a 12-year-old boy and the movie doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. It appeals to all ages by telling a simple story in a simple way and having a lot of heart and soul. That’s why it’s a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 8/10

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