Home Alone: Family Fun Edition Chris Columbus

Home Alone was John Hughes’s last significant contribution to the pop conversation. As a script, it proved surprisingly airtight; his usual dose of upper/middle-class discomfort was combined with a Rube Goldberg meets Ferris Bueller selection of traps and low cunning that held together better than a movie set at Christmas had any right to. And its hero — the redoubtable Kevin McAllister, played with verve by the subsequently doomed Macaulay Culkin — proved riveting in his mission to protect his home from thieves after being forgotten by his vacationing family. Still, Hughes foolishly chose not to direct this effort, deciding instead to hand it off to Chris Columbus; thus the film is constantly fighting between the acid wit of the writer/producer and the po-faced sap factory of the director. It’s an uneasy fit and it’s a testament to Hughes’s writing skills that it holds together as well as it does. Still, the gooier elements of the film are a little much to take, especially after the final onslaught when burglars Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern play their hand and invade the McAllister house. It’s worth noting that Catherine O’Hara knocks it out of the park as Kevin’s remorseful mother (she has a nice interlude with John Candy as a travelling polka player), though it’s not enough to keep this film from leaving a saccharine aftertaste. Auteurists take note: the road to Harry Potter begins here, believe it or not. Extras include a convivial commentary with Columbus and Culkin, six surprisingly thorough featurettes with some not-too-bright remarks from crew members, 15 deleted scenes and alternate takes, a gag reel, a 1990 promo featurette, and three set-top games that aren’t worth mentioning. (Fox)