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Things only adults notice in Home Alone

Home Alone has been a Christmas staple since it first hit theaters in 1990, and for those who were around the age of 8-year-old protagonist Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) during their initial viewing, the movie has always felt like pure wish fulfillment. Children watch in rapt glee as Kevin is granted an accidental vacation from his unappreciative family, spends a few days doing whatever he wants, and gets to play the role of the adventurous, innovative hero who thwarted dastardly bad guys. 

But as the audience has aged over the decades that have passed since Home Alone's initial release, it's become evident that while Kevin's solo Yuletide adventures are still tremendous fun to watch, there are a lot of things about the film that are bizarre, illogical, or even downright disturbing. From the McCallisters' questionable parenting skills to Kevin's potentially lethal booby traps, here are some of the things that only adults notice in Home Alone.

Kevin is kind of a brat

For a kid watching Home Alone, Kevin's dialogue feels almost aspirational. The things he says to his parents and family members are the kinds of things we all wished we could say when we were young, but would've never had the nerve. When his mom tells him to leave her room, he responds, "Hang up the phone and make me, why don't ya?" And then when she tells him to go upstairs after he shoves Buzz in the kitchen, Kevin's response is "I am upstairs, dummy!" Granted, Kevin is in the midst of being punished when he says this, but still, calling your mom a "dummy" and suffering zero consequences (other than the ones to which you'd already been sentenced) would've felt like living the dream for an elementary-aged theatergoer. 

However, as an adult, it's a little hard to overlook just how rude Kevin is, and how his parents either ignore it or laugh it off. To be fair, most of the other McCallister children are just as bad as he is, if not worse, so he doesn't really stand out much in comparison, making the idea of traveling to Paris with such a large brood of disrespectful kids sound more like a nightmare than a vacation. Still, considering Kevin is the protagonist of Home Alone, it's a little weird that he's characterized as being just as unpleasant to be around as the rest of the kids in his family. 

The McCallisters' entire house is Christmas themed

Putting aside the fact that the McCallisters have clearly spent a small fortune decorating every inch of their expansive home for a holiday they're not even going to be home for, have you ever taken a close look at the rest of the McCallister household? It's not just the seasonal decorations that make it feel festive; the entire interior design scheme of the house seems to have been planned around the holiday. Take a look at the green kitchen counters and red pots and pans, or the red, green, and white patterned wallpaper covering the walls of nearly every room and hallway. Check out Kevin's parents' red bedspread, or the framed red flowers on their walls, or the red and green furniture in the living room. 

The kitchen floor is red. The dining room walls are red. The upstairs walls are green. The living room has a red and white rug on the floor and green curtains framing the windows. Even the telephone is green. From lampshades to bathrobes to prominently placed teapots, it's hard to find a single surface or person in the McCallister household that isn't decked out for the holidays at all times. After living in such a festive home year-round, no wonder the McCallister children seem to be fresh out of Christmas cheer by the time December arrives. 

The McCallisters' parenting skills leave a lot to be desired

No matter what age you are, Uncle Frank (Gerry Bamman) is supposed to be unlikable, but as an adult, it's hard to overlook that he calls an eight-year-old a "little jerk" in front of the whole family, and Kevin's parents say nothing. Regardless of how bratty Kevin has been up until that point, he's still a small child, and Uncle Frank is way out of line. Peter (John Heard) and Kate (Catherine O'Hara) should have called him out on it, but instead, both of Kevin's parents just stand there as Peter's brother insults their second grader, before ultimately punishing Kevin. 

Then, when Kevin storms upstairs grumbling that "everyone in this family hates me," his mom's response is to tell him that he should ask Santa for a new family, instead of reassuring him. Even though Kate is mad and wants to get Kevin out of everyone's hair, considering that her son just expressed his impression that he's hated by his entire family, it seems a little unreasonable that she just allowed him to keep thinking that, instead of letting him know that at least she loves him. Then when he says he hopes he never sees any of them again, she tells him to wish for it again so that maybe it'll happen, once again going along with Kevin's notion that he has no place in their family instead of correcting his misperception and assuring him that he belongs. Considering that's the last thing she says to him that night, we don't blame her for beating herself up so much once she realizes she left him at home alone. 

Kevin's dad risked ruining all their passports

When Kevin shoves Buzz (Devin Ratray) for saying he ate Kevin's entire cheese pizza, Buzz falls into the cups of milk Kate asked everyone to drink, causing milk to spill all over the pile of passports and airline tickets on the kitchen counter (which is how Kevin's ticket winds up getting accidentally thrown away). The next morning, during the hubbub to get the McCallisters out of the house and to the airport in time, Peter mentions that the passports are in the microwave, where he put them in order to dry them off. (As a sidebar, no one ever seems to notice at the airport that they still have Kevin's passport, but no Kevin). 

This was probably a bad idea for several reasons. Although passports in 1990 wouldn't have had the radio frequency identification chips contained in modern passports, which could've caused the documents to burst into flames in the microwave, they still would've had plastic covers, which could have melted. Plus the passports would've contained small amounts of metal, used in the foil stamping on their covers and the inner security features, which could've caused them to catch fire. Peter's lucky he didn't cause their whole trip to get canceled — although at least, in that case, Kevin wouldn't have accidentally been left home by himself. 

Kevin's mom left out a rather important detail when calling the police

Kate realizes on the plane to Paris that she left Kevin behind, and the first thing she does when the plane lands is wrestle a pay phone away from a nonplussed French woman so that she can call the police. What follows is a frustrating series of conversations as Kate gets transferred from one department to another, conveying her story over and over to bored police officers who seem more interested in prepping for Christmas than in ensuring the safety of a child within their jurisdiction. As a kid watching this scene, it's easy to get annoyed at the police, and at the officer who later goes to the McCallister house, knocks once, then gives up and leaves when no one answers the door. Surely this police department is the height of professional incompetence, right?

As it turns out, maybe not. When Kate calls, all she says each time is "I'm calling from Paris. I have a son who's home alone." She never mentions Kevin's age, or the fact that he's not supposed to be alone. Instead, Kate comes across as an overprotective parent who'd purposefully left her teenager at home while she traveled, and now wants the police to make sure he isn't throwing a raucous party in her absence. No wonder the police didn't bother investigating further when Kevin didn't answer the door. 

Why doesn't the pizza guy call the police?

It can seem like a plot hole that Kevin never calls the police until the end of the movie, choosing instead to construct an elaborate gantlet of booby traps to protect himself, but by Kevin's logic, it actually makes sense. He thinks he made his family disappear by magic, and later when he encounters the Wet Bandits, he recognizes Harry (Joe Pesci) as the police officer who visited his house earlier. Police can't help with a magically disappearing family, and may in fact be the bad guys if Harry is one of them.

However, it's less clear why the pizza guy (D. Danny Warhol) doesn't call 911 after he delivers a pizza to the McCallister home and Kevin uses the Angels with Filthy Souls video to trick him into believing someone is trying to kill him. The ruse clearly works — the poor pizza guy falls all over himself trying to get away from the perceived gunshots coming from the house — but then nothing happens. If he's under the impression that one of his delivery customers just tried to murder him, you'd think that he'd call the police, or at least report it to his manager, who would likely pass the incident along to the authorities. But it appears that instead, the pizza guy just kept the incident to himself and went about his day, never letting it slip to anyone that the residents of 671 Lincoln Boulevard may occasionally murder unsuspecting delivery people. 

Kevin may have been rocking around the Christmas tree for hours

Unlike the break-in extravaganza at the end of the film when the Wet Bandits inadvertently tell Kevin to expect them at nine o'clock, all he knows when he sets up his elaborate fake party is that two creepy guys in a van were hanging around outside his house earlier in the day. He had no way of knowing what time they'd be coming back — or if they were even planning on returning at all — yet he somehow managed to be enthusiastically dancing precisely when Harry and Marv (Daniel Stern) drove by that night. 

Either Kevin happened to luck into putting his plan into motion at the exact right time, or he'd already been partying for hours with his cardboard friends by the time the Wet Bandits finally returned, just to make sure his bases were covered. What's even more baffling is how Kevin somehow knew when Harry and Marv made their return, and when they gave up and left, since he knew to go to the window to watch them drive away. The most plausible explanation is that he had the whole party setup ready to go as soon as their van turned onto his street, kept a close watch, and it was a lot less complicated than it appeared for him to put all the cutouts in motion — but it's more fun to think that Kevin was just rocking out with his inanimate guests all day.

It's a little weird for Kevin's neighbor to confide in a lone 8-year-old

Although the church scene between Kevin and Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom) is heartwarming, and an emotional turning point for both characters, watching it as an adult, it's hard not to notice that the scene is also a little odd. Even putting aside the fact that instead of setting up all his traps earlier in the day, Kevin is in a church an hour before the Wet Bandits are due to arrive, and has to run home in order to make his battle plan in time (hey, he's eight), there are a few elements about the scene itself that are kind of strange when you examine them closely. 

It makes sense that Old Man Marley would come over to introduce himself to Kevin and tell him he doesn't need to be afraid of him. After all, it would've been hard for Marley to miss his young neighbor fleeing from him in terror earlier in the movie. However, it's a little bizarre that Marley then proceeds to unload all of his troubles with his estranged son onto a second-grader he's only just officially met, and whose parents are nowhere in sight. Of course, we understand that Marley means well, especially when he comes to Kevin's rescue at the end of the film, but typically adults don't have impromptu heart-to-hearts with unaccompanied minors they don't know.

Kevin's lucky he didn't burn his house down

Of the many traps Kevin sets for the Wet Bandits, one that could've had disastrous consequences is the electric charcoal starter that he hangs from the front doorknob. The idea behind the trap is simple, even if the physics are a little advanced for a second-grader — he plugs in the starter inside the house, hangs it on the indoor metal knob, which conducts the heat to the outdoor knob, which ultimately sears an impression of itself into the unsuspecting Harry's hand.

However, after Harry gives up on the front entrance, Kevin still leaves the starter plugged in and hanging on the door, presumably until after Harry and Marv are arrested at the end of the night. Keeping in mind that it had already been hanging on the door for about an hour before Harry showed up, that starter (which, remember, is intended to start fires) was probably left unattended for at least a couple hours before Kevin turned it off. In that time, Kevin risked the starter catching the door on fire, and subsequently, the rest of the house. 

Kevin could have easily killed the Wet Bandits

The traps Kevin sets for the Wet Bandits at the end of Home Alone all seem like delightfully funny pranks when watching the film as a kid, but as an adult, it's easy to see the many ways that Kevin could've unwittingly killed Marv and Harry. While Harry may not have died from the blowtorch burns to his head (although it was a distinct possibility that he would've at least lost consciousness), both criminals take some severe blows to the head and body during the home invasion sequence, any one of which could've proved lethal.

First, there's the the iron dropped on Marv's face via the laundry shoot, which falls the three stories from the second floor to the basement to hit him squarely in the forehead. We can't say for sure whether it would've killed Marv, but he probably would've at least suffered severe facial trauma and bone fractures. Then there are the paint cans both Bandits take to the face, which could've taken their heads right off, and as a bonus, the crowbar Marv uses to whack Harry in the chest, which could've broken his ribs, punctured his lungs, and pierced his heart. And that's not even mentioning the severe maiming and internal injuries both men would've suffered as a result of Kevin's less lethal traps. Somehow, we doubt that the McCallisters' VCRs and jewelry were worth all of that. 

The ending is seconds away from becoming a horror movie

After successfully leading the Wet Bandits through his funhouse of horrors, the two would-be burglars finally gain the upper hand over Kevin when, instead of following him through the Murphys' flooded basement like he'd planned, they go around the front and intercept him at the top of the stairs. They then hang him by his sweater from a coat hook and begin to detail what they plan to do to him as revenge for his traps, and it is gruesome. The two bumbling criminals decide that they'll methodically do everything to him that he did to them, including burning his head with a blowtorch and smashing his face with an iron. But first, Harry announces that he's going to partially cannibalize Kevin by biting off each of his fingers. 

Fortunately, Old Man Marley steps in and stops Harry and Marv before they can inflict any physical damage. Watching Home Alone as a kid, it's easy to shrug off the horrific fate Kevin very nearly suffers, since you know that they don't actually do any of it. But as an adult, it's hard to overlook that the Wet Bandits detail their intent to torture and likely kill a child in the most grisly fashion right before they're thwarted. If Marley hadn't been there to intervene after seeing the two bandits follow Kevin into the Murphys' house, things were about to get SUPER dark. 

Maybe the police really are inept after all

While it's understandable why the police don't seem to take Kevin's plight too seriously earlier in the movie, thanks to the lack of detail provided by his mother over the phone, it's a little less easy to follow their process at the end of the film. After receiving Kevin's call that the Murphys' house is being robbed, the police arrive to discover Harry and Marv significantly worse for wear, presumably still being watched over by Old Man Marley and his shovel. Harry and Marv are arrested, and Kevin watches from the window of his house, where he then goes to bed and peacefully awaits Christmas morning.

Why don't the police ever question Kevin? They had to have wondered why Harry and Marv were so beaten up, and in such a weird way, what with the feathers and burn wounds on Harry and the iron-shaped impression on Marv's face. Even if Marley attempted to take responsibility for it, Harry and Marv were fully conscious when the police showed up, and would likely have been grumbling about the kid that did this to them. It's bizarre that no one ever comes to get Kevin's side of the story, and in the process, realize that he's home by himself. While it would've taken away from the moving family reunion at the end of the film, if the police were better at their jobs, Kate McCallister would've arrived home to an empty house and the message that her son was at the police station.