BUZZ: I wouldn't let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass.
Buzz is a traditional, bullying older brother. Obviously, he's not trying to inspire any affection in Kevin, and he's one of the factors in Kevin's wish for his family to disappear.
KEVIN: I don't wanna sleep with Fuller. You know him, he wets the bed. He'll pee all over me, I know it.
Kevin's extended family doesn't exactly warm his heart either. It's hard for Kevin to sense the real bonds of love that unite them when a flood of his cousin's urine is about to soak him. It's another strike against families in Kevin's book.
KATE: My husband's brother transferred to Paris last summer and both of his kids are still going to school here and I guess he missed the whole family. He's giving us all this trip to Paris for the holidays, so we can be together.
Ironically, in trying to be together for the holidays, by going to Paris, the McCallister family leaves Kevin behind, separating the family.
KEVIN: Everyone in this family hates me!
KATE: Then maybe you should ask Santa for a new family.
KEVIN: I don't want another family. I don't want any family. Families suck!
This is how Kevin starts off in the movie—brattily attacking his family. (To be fair, they have been a little obnoxious). Throughout the course of the movie, he learns to fend for himself without a family, while simultaneously realizing that he wants his family back.
KEVIN: I don't want to see you again for my whole life. And I don't want to see anybody else either.
KATE: I hope you don't mean that. You'd feel pretty sad if you woke up tomorrow morning and you didn't have a family.
KEVIN: No I wouldn't.
KATE: Then say it again. Maybe it will happen.
KEVIN: I hope that I never see any of you jerks again!
Of course, by the time the movie ends, Kevin wants his family back—even though he's learned how to survive on his own. He's not dependent on them, anymore, but he wants to spend time with them because he actually likes them now.
KEVIN: [worried] I made my family disappear.
[He remembers the things his family members said to him.]
KEVIN: [happy] I made my family disappear.
Kevin's family really were acting like jerks—mainly because of the stress of getting ready for their big trip, but also because Buzz and Uncle Frank are jerks, though in a not very serious way. So, we can sympathize with Kevin to a fair degree.
KATE: This is Christmas! The season of perpetual hope! And I don't care if I have to get out on the runway and hitchhike! If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.
We see that Kevin's Mom really cares about him; contrary to what Kevin thinks, his family doesn't really see him as useless dead weight.
KEVIN: This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys. Nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?
This is the moment when Kevin (speaking to a guy playing Santa) admits that he really does want his family back. It's a crucial moment of dramatic reversal in the development of his character. Ironically, the Santa doesn't know that they've all gone to France, and imagines that they're dead.
MARLEY: Years back, before you and your family moved on the block, I had an argument with my son.
KEVIN: How old is he?
MARLEY: He's grown up. We lost our tempers, and I said I didn't care to see him anymore. He said the same, and we haven't spoken to each other since.
Kevin's only been separated from his family for a few days, but Marley's been estranged from his son for years. It's an example of how damaging this kind of separation and loneliness can be. Yet Kevin is able to help Marley make up with his family, since Kevin has recently learned how valuable family actually is: he can impart that wisdom.
KATE: I'm a bad parent. I'm a bad parent.
GUS: You're not. You know, you're beating yourself up there, you know. This happens. These things happen, you know. Gee, you want to talk about bad parents? Look at us. We're on the road 48, 49 weeks a year. We hardly see our families. You know, Joe, over there. Gosh, you know, he forgets his kids' names half the time. Ziggy over there, he's never even met his kid. Eddy: let's just hope none of them write a book about him.
This is played purely for laughs. It's like Gus's Polka band is Led Zeppelin or something—getting torn up by life on the road and separated from their families.
KEVIN: This house is so full of people it makes me sick! When I grow up and get married, I'm living alone! Did you hear me? I'm living alone! I'm living alone!
Kevin gets his wish sooner than he expects…but he discovers that solitude isn't the bliss he expects it to be. Although he has freedom, he needs people to share his life with.
KATE: How could we do this? We forgot him.
PETER: We didn't forget him. We just miscounted.
KATE: What kind of mother am I?
FRANK: If it makes you feel any better, I forgot my reading glasses.
Uncle Frank takes forgetting Kevin pretty easily—he's laid-back about it. It shows that he's kind of a jerk, comparing a kid to a pair of reading glasses.
MEGAN: You're not at all worried that something might happen to Kevin?
BUZZ: No, for three reasons: A, I'm not that lucky. Two, we use smoke detectors and D, we live on the most boring street in the whole United States of America, where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen. Period.
Buzz acts like he doesn't care about Kevin...but maybe behind his idiotic justification for his lack of worry, there's a hint that he really does care, and he's just trying to cover it up? Maybe?
CHECKOUT WOMAN: Are you here all by yourself?
KEVIN: Ma'am, I'm eight years old. You think I would be here alone? I don't think so.
Kevin wants to hold onto his autonomy—he's not going to let his opportunity to live freely be spoiled by some checkout girl. Plus, Kevin thinks he made his family disappear—so he doesn't realize they're still out there looking for him.
CHECKOUT WOMAN: Where do you live?
KEVIN: I can't tell you that.
CHECKOUT WOMAN: Why not?
KEVIN: Because you're a stranger.
Kevin might mean this seriously—or he might just cleverly be keeping the lady off his case, so she doesn't disrupt his freedom.
KATE: Have you ever gone on vacation and left your child home?
GUS: No, no. But I did leave one at a funeral parlor once. Yeah, it was terrible too. I was all distraught and everything. The wife and I, we left the little tyke there in the funeral parlor all day. All day. You know, we went back at night, when we came to our senses, there he was. Apparently he was there all day with a corpse. Now, he was okay. You know, after six, seven weeks, he came around and started talking again. But he's okay. They get over it. Kids are resilient like that.
This is not a comforting story to tell Kevin's mom—now, she's worried that Kevin is going to be totally traumatized by the experience. And it compounds her feelings of guilt.
FURNACE: Ha, ha, ha. Hello, Kevin. Ha, ha, ha.
KEVIN: Shut up!
Kevin finally shuts down his fear of the furnace, as easily as snapping off a life-switch: he gets over it, suddenly, through a pure act of will.
KEVIN: This is ridiculous. Only a wimp would be hiding under a bed. And I can't be a wimp. I'm the man of the house.
This is one of the first moments where Kevin realizes he needs to be courageous. The robbers are trying to bust into the house, and Kevin hides under a bed…he senses that he needs to take control of the situation. (The robbers flee when they see that he's at home).
KEVIN: Hey, I'm not afraid anymore! I said I'm not afraid anymore! Do you hear me? I'm not afraid anymore!
Immediately after Kevin says this, Old Man Marley approaches, and Kevin screams and runs inside. (The irony.) He's being deceived by appearances: Marley's not a threat, but the burglars are.
KEVIN: No offense, aren't you too old to be afraid?
MARLEY: You can be too old for a lot of things, but you're never too old to be afraid.
Kevin has to get over his own fear of the burglars—and Marley has to get over his fear: he has to meet with his estranged son and heal his family. They both help put things in perspective for each other, and Marley points out that fear isn't just for kids, but something you have to deal with throughout your life.
KEVIN: I've always been afraid of our basement. It's dark, there's weird stuff down there, and it smells funny; that sort of thing. It's bothered me for years.
MARLEY: Basements are like that.
KEVIN: I made myself go down to do some laundry, and I found out it's not so bad. All this time I've been worried about it, but if you turn on the lights, it's no big deal.
Kevin suggests, through analogy, that if Marley will go into his own metaphorical basement and deal with his own metaphorical furnace (the issue he has with his son), he'll find that the problems he's dealing with aren't really so implacable.
KEVIN: My point is: you should call your son.
MARLEY: What if he won't talk to me?
KEVIN: At least you'll know. Then you could stop worrying about it. Then you won't have to be afraid anymore. I don't care how mad I was, I'd talk to my dad. Especially around the holidays.
With his simple wisdom, Kevin convinces Old Man Marley to speak to his son again. (We see them reconciling later in the movie). Our worries and fears magnify our problems out of proportion, and the idea of confronting a problem is scarier than actually confronting it.
KEVIN: This is my house. I have to defend it.
At this point in the movie—when he's about to send the burglars through a gauntlet of booby traps—Kevin is really seizing the sword. He's become fully competent, able to buy his own toothpaste and mac n' cheese and torture a couple of burglars half to death. So now it's bloodbath time.
KEVIN: This is it! Don't get scared now.
Kevin's addressing himself and the audience here—he can't lose his cool against the burglars. And he doesn't. They're much less prepared than he is: very outmatched (except at the end when Kevin needs Marley's help to get out of the situation).
JOHNNY: I'm gonna give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, yellow, no good keister off my property before I pump your guts full of lead!
SNAKES: All right, Johnny, I'm sorry. I'm going.
JOHNNY: 1, 2, 10! [Shoots Snakes.] Keep the change, ya filthy animal.
This is from the violent movie—Angels with Filthy Souls—that Kevin's Uncle Frank wouldn't let him watch. Initially, it freaks Kevin out, but he later uses it to spook the pizza boy and the two burglars. He gets over his own fear, allowing him to inflict fear on others.
HARRY: Why the hell did you take your shoes off?
MARV: Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?
In the midst of their encounter with Kevin's booby traps, both Harry and Marv are bearing marks of physical trauma. Watching these two grown men get systematically dismantled, we realize: Kevin is straight-up ruthless.
KEVIN: You guys give up or are you thirsty for more?
Kevin is actually enjoying the process of beating the tar out of Harry and Marv. He's discovered his inner hero—and that inner hero looks a lot like a terrifying Viking warlord.
HARRY: You bomb me with one more can, kid, and I'll snap off your cajones and boil them in motor oil!
The burglars can only make threats—they've been rendered incapable of fulfilling them, thanks to Kevin's cleverness (though they almost get Kevin in the end).
MARV: I'm not going out the window!
HARRY: What're you scared, Marv? Are you afraid? C'mon, get out here!
Even though Harry's supposed to be the smart one, he's been so disconcerted and injured by these booby traps that he's making a rash and totally stupid decision. Kevin, of course, cuts the line they try to use to climb to the tree house.
MARV: What are we gonna do to him, Harry?
HARRY: We'll do exactly what he did to us: we're gonna burn his head with a blowtorch!
MARV: And smash his face with an iron!
HARRY: How about slap him in the face with a paint can!
MARV: Or shove a nail through his foot.
HARRY: First thing I'm gonna do is bite off every one of these little fingers, one at a time.
Fortunately, Harry doesn't get a chance to bite Kevin's fingers off—Marley shows up and smashes Harry and Marv over the head with his snow shovel. But would Harry have actually bitten those fingers off, though? Probably. Kevin did just torture them.
HARRY: There's always a lot of burglaries around the holidays. So we're just checking the neighborhood to see if everyone's taking the proper precautions; that's all.
PETER: Oh, yeah. Well we have automatic timers for our lights, locks for our doors. That's about as well as anybody can do these days, right? Did you get some eggnog or something like that?
Ironically, Harry—who's impersonating a cop and pretending to be guarding the neighborhood—is actually a burglar himself! He's insinuating himself into their comfortable world, getting ready to strike…
HARRY: And that's the one, Marvin. And that's the silver tuna.
MARV: It's very G.
HARRY: Very G, huh? It's loaded. It's got lots of top-flight goods. Stereos, VCRs…
HARRY: Probably looking at some very fine jewelry, possible cash hoard, odd marketable securities… Who knows? It's a gem. Grab your crowbar.
Marv and Harry are covetous. They can't admire all this prosperity at a distance. It inspires them to go for it.
HARRY: What's so funny? What are you laughing at? You did it again, didn't you? You left the water running. What's wrong with you? Why do you do that? I told you not to do it.
MARV: Harry, it's our calling card!
HARRY: Calling card.
MARV: All the great ones leave their mark. We're the wet bandits!
Beneath Marv's stupid gimmick, there's a hard streak of destructive fury. It's not enough for him to plunder these houses—he needs to physically ruin them too, by flooding them.
HARRY: You're sick, you know? You're really sick.
MARV: I'm sick…?
HARRY: Yes, you are.
MARV: I'm not sick.
HARRY: It's a sick thing to do!
Harry seems to be a somewhat more rational person—he (evidently) doesn't want to inflict damage beyond theft, whereas Marv does. At the same time, Harry doesn't really care, and might just enjoy putting Marv down.
MARV: Maybe he went in the church?
HARRY: I'm not going in there.
MARV: Me neither.
Clearly, the burglars have a strong aversion to church. It's outside their comfort zone—a sanctuary where they can't follow Kevin (who's actually disguised himself in the Christmas manger).
HARRY: Look, that house is the only reason we started working this block in the first place. Ever since I laid eyes on that house, I wanted it.
Harry's particularly obsessed with the McCallister house. And why wouldn't he be? It's practically a mansion, and Kevin's an unusually wealthy hero.
OFFICER DEVEREAUX: Hey, you know we've been looking for you two guys for a long time. You guys are always leaving the water running whenever you break in, now we know each and every house you guys have hit.
MARV: Yeah. But remember, we're the wet bandits. The wet bandits. W-E-T.
HARRY: Shut up!
The extra dash of cruelty—flooding the houses—ends up being the very thing that totally incriminates Marv and Harry. They never managed to think logically.
BUZZ: Check it out. Old man Marley.
ROD: Who's he?
BUZZ: You ever heard of the South Bend shovel slayer?
BUZZ: That's him. Back in '58, he murdered his whole family and half the people on his block…with a snow shovel. Been hiding out in this neighborhood ever since.
This is a total lie—just a dumb rumor based on Marley's somewhat austere appearance. In reality, as Kevin later learns, Marley's family is very much alive.
BUZZ: He [Marley] walks up and down the street every night, salting the sidewalks.
ROD: Maybe he's just trying to be nice.
BUZZ: No way. See that garbage can full of salt? That's where he keeps his victims. The salt turns the bodies…into mummies.
Of course, Marley is just trying to be nice. Rod is having the more natural, and humane reaction (not to mention the correct reaction), whereas Buzz's beliefs are wildly grotesque fantasies. Buzz poisons Kevin's mind—it takes a while for Kevin to realize that Marley's actually one of the good guys.
MARV: Somebody beat us to the job; they're in there. Two of them. There was arguing. One blew the other one away.
MARV: I don't know. I thought I recognized one of their voices. And I know I heard that name 'Snakes' before.
HARRY: Snakes? Snakes. Snakes. I don't know no Snakes.
Marv can't tell the difference between a voice on TV and a real life voice. Are they so hard to tell apart? His own idiocy allows Kevin to manipulate him, playing the Angels with Filthy Souls video and convincing Marv that one gangster just murdered another in Kevin's house.
HARRY: We'll get through the back. Maybe the kid will let us in, you never know.
MARV: Yeah, he's a kid. Kids are stupid.
The irony here is pretty obvious: Harry and Marv are totally underestimating Kevin based on his appearance. He's actually a lot smarter than they are.
MARLEY: You live down the street from me, right? You know, anytime you see me you can say hello; you don't have to be afraid. A lot of stuff has been said about me, none of it's true.
Marley's aware of the ridiculous rumors the kids have been concocting about him. After a few seconds of talking with him, Kevin realizes how kindly Marley actually is.