Study Guide

Home Alone

Home Alone Summary

As the McCallister family packs for the trip to visit a relative in France, the youngest family member, eight-year-old Kevin, whines about not being able to pack his own suitcase. His siblings pick on him, and things get testy when his brother Buzz devours a pizza set aside for Kevin. Kevin attacks Buzz, causing his mother, Kate, to banish him to the attic bedroom. Kevin grumpily wishes that he didn't have a family and that they would all disappear.

Classic kid drama.

In the morning, the McCallisters leave in a huge hurry (how else would a family vacation start?), and a miscount at the van taking them to the airport causes them to forget about Kevin. Yup, he's still hanging out at home.

Alone.

The entire family (sans one) is on a plane to France by the time Kevin's mother finally realizes the terrible mistake they've made.

And we thought forgetting our toothbrush was bad.

Meanwhile, Kevin lives it up at home—eating ice cream, watching violent movies, and riding a toboggan down the stairs. It's a kid's fantasy.

  

He also has to contend with his fear of the basement furnace, and two robbers named Harry and Marv who keep attempting to break-in (Harry posed as a policeman checking in on the family during the movie's first scene, before they left for France). Kevin successfully scares them off, multiple times.

But they're like Wiley E. Coyote—they don't know when to quit. They'll be back.

Building on his newfound self-reliance, Kevin transforms himself into a regular man of the house, even as his mother journeys back from France to make sure he's okay. He even befriends an elderly neighbor who he formerly thought was a serial killer, encouraging the old man (named Marley) to make up with his estranged son.

Kevin's become like Oprah—helping people heal and spreading the love.

Finally, after realizing that he wants his family back, Kevin fends off the burglars as they wander through an intricately violent series of booby traps Kevin's constructed inside the house.

Thanks to the final intervention of Marley—who smashes the burglars over the head with his snow shovel—Kevin survives unscathed, and Harry and Marv are arrested. All is well...except that Kevin's still home alone.

The next day, Kevin's mom makes it home by receiving a lift from a friendly polka bandleader. The rest of the family suddenly shows up, having taken a flight Kevin's mother didn't want to wait for. They're all impressed by Kevin's newfound competence, though he doesn't mention the whole beating-the-pulp-out-of-burglars thing.

The McCallisters get to spend Christmas together, after all. In the end, we also see Marley making up with his estranged son and hugging his granddaughter. Families are getting together all over the place. It's enough to give you a holiday-themed case of the warm fuzzies.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • As the Christmas-y soundtrack music plays, we see an ominous moon floating in the sky.
    • The opening credits roll, as the illustrated image of a house and the title "Home Alone" appear. A window in the house clicks on.
    • Now, the movie starts for real: in a large house full of crowded family members, a man who appears to be a police officer tries to get someone to pay attention to him. The family members ignore him, distracted by the general hubbub in the house.
    • Upstairs, eight-year-old Kevin McCallister complains to his mother Kate, telling her that his Uncle Frank won't let him watch a violent movie. She tells him his uncle's probably right.
    • Kevin acts like a nuisance, bothering his parents while they try to pack and get ready for their extended family's trip to visit relatives in France.
    • Like the rabbit-killing crazy lady in Fatal Attraction, he "will not be ignored"—but in a nicer way.
    • Kevin is daunted by the prospect of packing his own suitcase, demonstrating his lack of self-sufficiency. He's also worried that he'll have to sleep in the same bed as his cousin. His cousin still wets the bed. Ugh. We'd be worried, too.
    • Downstairs, the (alleged) cop continues trying to find the homeowner, but the kids he talks to tell him that they're just cousins.
    • Kevin's brother Buzz chats with one of Kevin's cousins. Kevin comes in, and Buzz acts like a jerk—he won't let Kevin sleep in his room.
    • Outside, they see an old man from the neighborhood, Marley, salting the roads and shoveling sidewalks. Buzz claims that he's a serial killer who murders people with his snow shovel and mummifies them with salt—this freaks Kevin out.
    • A pizza delivery boy arrives, knocking over a statue in front of the house by accident.
    • After waiting around, the pizza boy and the cop both finally get to talk to Kevin's Dad, Pete, who tells the cop about the precautions he's taking to make sure the house will be safe from burglars when gone.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • Kevin arrives in the kitchen to discover that Buzz has already eaten the plain cheese pizza that was ordered for him (Kevin). Kevin attacks Buzz, causing soda to spill on his uncle and turning the rest of the family against him.
    • Again, we're 100% on Kevin's side: nobody has the right to stand between a boy and his pizza.
    • Kevin's Mom sends him to bed, dragging him upstairs.
    • In the hall, they're stopped by the cop—Kevin's Mom tells him that they're taking a trip to Paris to visit relatives. When the cop smiles at Kevin, we see that he has a sparkling gold tooth.
    • Upstairs, Kevin's Mom banishes him to an attic room. Kevin snottily says that he wishes he didn't have a family, and doesn't want to see his mother or anyone else ever again. He openly wishes that he never has to see "any of you jerks" anymore.
    • In the night, outside, we see the wind pick up. It knocks a branch off a tree, severing the phone and power lines with a blast of sparks.
    • Next morning, a van driver waits to take the family to the airport. Inside, Kevin's parents realize that they slept in, due to the power outage. In fast-motion, the family gets ready to go.
    • Meanwhile, a neighbor kid pesters the van driver while he tries to load the family's luggage.
    • This kid is the fly in the ointment—he messes everything up.
    • The family members file out. When one of the older girls, Heather, counts the heads of all the kids, she accidentally counts the neighbor kid, and they don't realize they're missing someone.
    • In a hectic rush, they make it to the airport on time and board their plane for France.
    • Back at home, Kevin wakes up and heads downstairs.
    • We see the plane take off.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • Kevin heads to the kitchen and turns on the TV. He starts to wonder where everyone is, looking concerned.
    • Back on the plane, Kevin's Mom chats with his Dad.
    • Kevin wanders around the house, calling out to his different family members. He even heads down to the basement, where the creepy furnace freaks him out.
    • He runs outside and sees the cars are in the garage, and thinks his family didn't go to the airport (he doesn't realize they took a van).
    • Back inside, he thinks he made his family disappear—and he feels pleased.
    • Kevin celebrates: he hops on his parents' bed, eats junk food, and zooms around the house.
    • He breaks into his brother Buzz's secret stash, taking out firecrackers and chucking a copy of Playboy over his head (Kevin's not interested...yet.) Then, he uses his brother's BB Gun to shoot action figures down a laundry chute.
    • Soon Kevin will be exchanging those action figures for human targets—but in a justified way.
    • Next, he watches the movie his uncle wouldn't let him watch—Angels With Filthy Souls. But its violent death scene, in which one gangster shoots another, scares him. He covers his eyes.
    • On the plane, it's nighttime: Kevin's mother tells his father that she has a feeling they forgot something. His dad says he forgot to close the garage…but Kevin's mother says that's not it. Suddenly, she realizes, shouting, "Kevin!"
    • Back at the McCallister house, Kevin rides a toboggan down the stairs and directly out the door.
    • Cutting back to the plane, Kevin's mother consults with the airplane staff about trying to call home. She feels guilty.
    • It's just like losing your car keys in the couch cushion—except your car keys are your kid.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Outside the McCallister house at night, two burglars show up in a van—one of them, Harry, is the fake cop from the first scene.
    • He pretended to be a police officer in order to ask the McCallisters and other families what security precautions they were taking—thus allowing himself to break into the homes of people who will be gone.
    • He demonstrates to the other burglar, Marv, how certain houses have automatic lights timed to come on at a specific hour.
    • They go to break into the McCallister house through the basement, but Kevin turns on the basement light, making the burglars think someone's still home and scaring them off.
    • Kevin, equally scared, hides under a bed.
    • After arriving in France, the McCallisters immediately move to call home, forcing a French lady away from a pay phone.
    • Kevin decides to stop being a wimp, and come out from under the bed. He runs outside, yelling, "I'm not afraid anymore!" But when Marley, the snow shovel guy, steps in front of him on the sidewalk, Kevin screams and runs inside, jumping into bed and hiding under the sheets.
    • Instead of discovering the hero within, Kevin discovers the wimp within.
    • Meanwhile, Kevin's mother calls the police back in America, asking them to go check on Kevin.
    • The police think she's "hyper" and keep transferring her. Finally, they tell her they'll send someone over.
    • But when the cop knocks on the door, Kevin's still hiding in bed and won't answer the door. The cop thinks no one's at home.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • Now, the McCallisters try to find a flight back to America, but everything is booked until Friday (two days from the present).
    • The airport staff agrees to let Kevin's mom stay at the airport on standby—they'll let her know if an earlier seat opens up.
    • Back at home, Kevin goes through an involved bathroom grooming routine. When he puts aftershave on his face, he screams.
    • Next, Kevin attempts to climb shelves in Buzz's room, causing the whole thing to collapse. But he gets what he set out for, breaking into Buzz's life-savings…and inadvertently setting Buzz's tarantula free in the process.
    • (But the tarantula's moment to shine hasn't yet come.)
    • Outside, he notices someone is in a neighbor's house. He thought they went to Florida…
    • Kevin doesn't realize it, but it's the burglars.
    • While they're looting the house, Kevin's dad leaves a message on the neighbors' answering machine. Marv hears it and realizes the family is in Paris, though he doesn't realize that they left Kevin home.
    • Kevin goes to a local store to buy a toothbrush…but when Old Man Marley enters, Kevin is terrified and runs away—accidentally taking the toothbrush with him. A clerk chases after him, siccing a nearby cop on Kevin.
    • Kevin eludes the cop, sliding through an ice skating rink on his knees at high speed, darting through the legs of skaters. The cop falls in the process.
    • But plaque and tartar must be defeated—like the burglars.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Walking home, Kevin feels guilty about the toothbrush—like he's a criminal.
    • In the house the two burglars were burglarizing, we see Marv leave the water on, intentionally flooding the house. Harry thinks this is sick, but tolerates it.
    • As they drive away, they almost hit Kevin with their van. They tell him to be more careful and wish him a Merry Christmas—but Kevin notices Harry's gold tooth, recognizing him.
    • Harry doesn't like how Kevin looked at him, and decides to follow him. Kevin notices the van and starts to run. He evades the robbers by hiding in the nativity display of a church. Nice tactic.
    • He vows to be ready when these guys come up—he's realized they're robbers, apparently. Pretty smart for an eight year old.
    • At night, the robbers pull up outside his house—but Kevin has orchestrated a fake party in the house with a cardboard cutout of Michael Jordan and a mannequin in the windows. It tricks Marv and Harry, and they leave.
    • In France, the McCallisters (except the Mom who's at the airport) are watching It's a Wonderful Life in French, and look bored. Buzz says he's not worried about Kevin, giving an idiotic explanation why.
    • Back at home, Kevin orders a pizza, but uses the death scene from Angels with Filthy Souls played on the TV to mimic a gangster menacing the pizza boy. Kevin pays the pizza boy under the door but doesn't tip him—the pizza boy runs away, thinking the gangster on TV was a real person shooting at him.
    • At the airport in Paris, Kevin's Mom tries to bribe an elderly American couple with her watch and jewelry, to let her take their seats. They cave in and agree.
    • At home, Kevin watches TV and feels lonely—he wants his family back!
    • Families improve the TV watching experience, apparently.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • Next morning, Kevin lip syncs "White Christmas" and burns his face with aftershave, screaming again. He never learns.
    • Kevin heads to the grocery store. When he checks out, the checkout lady is suspicious, thinking he's there by himself (because he is). But Kevin claims his mother is waiting outside, after she quizzes him.
    • Kevin has become a master of deception—a future James Bond in the making.
    • As he walks home, the grocery bags break, spilling their contents on the ground.
    • When he gets home, he does laundry in the basement. The furnace freaks him out again, but he gets over his fear, realizing it's just a furnace and not some sort of evil being.
    • Outside, Harry and Marv are back. Harry orders Marv to check out the house and see if anyone's really home.
    • Kevin notices Marv trying to break in, and he flips on the Angels with Filthy Souls VHS. Marv, being a moron, thinks that two gangsters really are arguing, and that the one kills the other one. Kevin makes the gunfire sound more realistic by blowing up Buzz's firecrackers.
    • (Who among us can't tell the difference between late 80s VHS audio and actual humans speaking?)
    • Marv runs away, telling Harry what happened. But Harry wants to wait, to see if they can see who committed the murder, in case they end up getting questioned about it.
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • Meanwhile, Kevin's mother arrives in the United States—in Scranton, PA, to be specific (she's been relayed their from Dallas after leaving Paris). She's trying to get a flight to Chicago, where the McCallisters are from.
    • The airline can't get her a seat, but a guy named Gus Polinski steps up. He leads a polka band and he invites her to travel with the band in a rental van, since they're headed to Milwaukee—Chicago is on the way and they can drop her off.
    • Back in the Chicago area, Kevin leaves his house and Harry and Marv spot him cutting down a pine tree in his yard. As he decorates the tree, Harry looks in the window.
    • Kevin sees Harry reflected in an ornament, and yells for his Dad, trying to fake Harry out. But Harry realizes it's a trick—he knows Kevin's home alone.
    • Kevin hears Harry and Marv talking outside, saying they'll be back to rob the house at nine p.m.
    • On her way home, Kevin's mom rides in the van with the polka band, which is playing Christmas songs.
    • It's every polka lover's dream—and ever polka hater's hideous, unending nightmare.
    • Later at night, Kevin heads to a local Christmas display with a fake elf and Santa. Kevin believes the imitation Santa works for the real Santa, and asks him to tell Santa to give him his family back. The Santa (thinking they're dead) grimly says he'll see what he can do. He gives Kevin some Tic-Tacs as a gift.
    • Kevin's got to keep his breath fresh for the ladies, after all.
    • On his way home, Kevin sees a happy family getting ready for Christmas together.
    • He goes to church, and Old Man Marley sits next to him, wishing him a Merry Christmas. Kevin looks scared at first, but Marley tells him that there are silly rumors going around among the kids in the neighborhood about him (Marley). Turns out, he's a nice guy.
    • He and Kevin chat. After Kevin tells Marley about how he feels guilty over how he treated his family, Marley's says he's at church to see his granddaughter sing in the choir, but he's become estranged from his son (the granddaughter's father) over an argument they had years ago.
    • He tells Kevin that, for this reason, he (Marley) and his son won't spend Christmas together as a family.
    • Kevin explains how he conquered his fear of the basement, urging Marley to conquer his fear of contacting his son. Marley seems uncertain, but says they'll see what happens.
    • Before they leave, they shake hands.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • Kevin races home and prepares for the burglars, crafting an elaborate series of booby traps. He maps it all out: there are toy cars to slip on, ice on the steps, a flaming hot doorknob, a nail on one of the stairs, a fan ready to coat a burglar in feathers, and more.
    • It's like a game of Mousetrap—just life-size, and capable of killing you.
    • Kevin says grace and is about to eat a microwaveable macaroni and cheese dinner—but the clock strikes nine and the burglars arrive.
    • Kevin pumps his BB gun and waits.
    • Harry and Marv knock on the door, claiming they're Santa and an elf. Through the dog door, Kevin shoots Harry in the crotch. He reacts in pain (obviously).
    • Kevin is ruthless, and no one to mess with.
    • Marv puts his head through the dog door, and Kevin shoots him between the eyes.
    • The burglars decide to split paths: Marv goes down to the basement, while Harry goes around the front.
    • Harry immediately slips and falls on the icy steps, while Marv does the same around back, crashing to the bottom of the stairs leading to the basement entrance.
    • Cue a sarcastic slow-clap.
    • Harry tries to mount the stairs, falling a second time, while Marv struggles to even get up. Using a crowbar, Marv tries to open the door—before realizing that it's (ominously) unlocked.
    • He enters the basement and tries to turn on a light—but the light cord is actually attached to a clothes iron, which flies down the laundry chute and smashes him on the head.
    • Harry forces his way to the top of the steps—and then burns his hand on the hot doorknob.
    • Climbing up the stairs inside the basement, Marv loses his shoes on the sticky tar that's Kevin's spread on the stairway. Then he steps with his bare foot on a nail and falls back down the stairs.
    • Harry heads back to the kitchen entrance and opens the door—it's unlocked, but tied to a blowtorch, which burns the top of his head. He charges back in, tearing off the blowtorch.
    • Harry exits the basement and goes back outside, where he decides to climb in through a window.
    • Meanwhile, Harry runs through a booby trap that coats him in glue and then covers him in feathers blown at him by a fan.
    • After Marv enters the window, still without his shoes, he hurts his feet by stepping on Christmas ornaments Kevin spread under the window.
    • Heading towards the upstairs staircase, the two burglars meet up and then promptly slip on toy cars. When they get up, Kevin smacks them with paint cans tied to string, knocking them over. Harry loses his gold tooth.
    • But the bloodbath isn't over.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • Kevin calls the police, telling them he's being robbed (though he gives them the neighbor's address, since he plans to run over to that house, leading the burglars after him).
    • Marv almost catches Kevin, as Kevin runs up the attic—he grabs onto Kevin's pant leg. But Kevin spots Buzz's tarantula and puts it on Marv's face, making him scream. The tarantula crawls onto Harry, and Marv smashes him with a crowbar, trying to kill it (unsuccessfully).
    • (Told you the tarantula would be back.)
    • Kevin zip-lines from the attic to his tree house. Idiotically, Harry and Marv try to climb along the line to reach him. Kevin uses hedge-clippers to cut the line, sending Harry and Marv slamming into the wall of the house.
    • Kevin rushes over the neighbor's house, which turns out to have been flooded by Harry and Marv when they robbed it. Kevin makes his way through the neighbors' wet basement, but the burglars, wising up, intercept him at the stop of the stairs.
    • They prepare to torture Kevin in all the ways he injured them. But, first, Harry says, he's going to bite Kevin's fingers off.
    • Fortunately, Old Man Marley sneaks up on the burglars from behind and smashes them with his snow shovel.
    • He rescues Kevin and sends him home.
    • The cops arrive and arrest Marv and Harry, noting that they know every house Harry and Marv hit since the burglars flooded them all.
    • From the back of the cop car, Harry looks angrily at Kevin, who smiles and waves from his house's window.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • In the van with the polka band, Kevin's mom worries that she's a bad parent. Gus comforts her by talking about what terrible dads all the band members are.
    • Gus tells her that he accidentally left one of his kids at a funeral parlor all day. By the time Gus and his wife found him, the boy was traumatized—but started talking again after six or seven weeks.
    • This doesn't cheer Kate up.
    • We offer another slow-clap for Gus' ineffective story.
    • The next morning—Christmas—Kevin wakes up and rushes downstairs, hoping Santa gave him his family back. But no one's there.
    • The polka band drops Kevin's mom off, and she heads inside, calling out to Kevin. He comes downstairs and they happily re-unite, hugging. Kate says she sorry for leaving him home alone.
    • She says the rest of the family couldn't make it back in time—but then they all walk through the door. Turns out, they took the flight the mom didn't want to wait for.
    • When the mother worries that they don't have any milk or anything, Kevin tells them he went shopping the day before. Everyone is surprised.
    • Otherwise, Kevin tells them he just hung around.
    • Kevin's dad finds Harry's gold tooth lying on the floor, and is mystified as to what it is or where it came from.
    • He doesn't know it's a token of his son's own brutality.
    • Kevin looks out the window and sees Marley hugging his granddaughter and celebrating Christmas with his formerly estranged son's family—they've reconciled. Kevin waves to him from the window and he waves back.
    • Our hearts are warmed.
    • Suddenly, Buzz shouts from upstairs, asking Kevin what he did to his room. Startled, Kevin runs away from the window.
    • But we know that Buzz is no match for Kevin, Destroyer of Worlds.