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Alone again, naturally
I just saw Home Alone, for the first time since I saw it when it first came out, when I was a kid. I remembered the main beats of the movie: since it was such a cultural reference point in the decade since, I’ve seen clips of Joe Pesci being whacked in the face with a paint can or falling over, probably dozens of times.
But I’d forgotten the subplots entirely. I had no recollection that John Candy is in this film.
What struck me most, watching it now was how adulthood was presented back when I was a kid. The McCallisters had the kind of boomer existence that meant owning a large house (and being married with a bunch of kids) by 34: the age Catherine O’Hara was when the film was made. It’s a portrait of suburban, Catholicaffluence, the white-collar family life that seemed to be standard (at least for my parents’ generation).
It’s also a time capsule of adulthood. When we first see her, Kate McCallister is in her bedroom, packing. She is wearing a blazer and a blouse.
For their flight to Paris, she wears this. (I wish everyone who flew made such an effort).
All the grown-ups are dressed as grown-ups. Nobody is in jeans (let alone sweatpants). Notice how in Seinfeld - hardly a world of elitism, but of the same vintage - we regularly see Jerry and George wearing ties to go to restaurants. That’s how adults dressed when I was a child.
It marks the distinction between adults and children, in a way that many adults try to blur now. It’s clear in the world of Home Alone, because from a child’s perspective, adults are a distinct class of people. Kevin doesn’t turn to any adults for help, because he believes he would be in trouble. Adults are the source of discipline (and in the case of the burglars, an actual threat). Adults will send Kevin to his room.
I’m an adult (but not the owner of an elegant four-bed colonial revival with a 2-car garage). But it’s strange to be transported back to a time when grown-ups were different.
An assumption based on an Irish surname and 5 kids.