Home Alone tells the story of a young boy, Kevin McCallister, stranded on his own over Christmas after his family forgot to bring him along on a holiday to Paris, and his efforts to protect his home from two bumbling burglars.
It’s a funny, slapstick affair that holds up after multiple viewings thanks to the magnetic presence of Macaulay Culkin, along with Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci and some well put together traps.
On the face of it, it’s a largely sentimental affair but as the years have rolled on, one character and one question have bugged us here at loaded.
The character is Peter McCallister (John Heard), and the question is this: What the hell does this guy do for a living? How can he afford this house? And how can he afford to pay for 15 people to go on a holiday to Paris? At Christmas? Alright, that’s a few questions, but let’s dig a little deeper…
The most obvious answer tends to be the right one with these sort of things, which can only lead us to conclude the following: Peter McCallister is involved in high level organised crime.
Maybe he’s a mob lawyer, maybe he’s involved in some sort of finance scam or maybe he’s worked his way up the Mafia food chain from enforcer to boss – the film never makes it very clear what he does while the book adaptation only mentions the fact that he works in “business” which sounds fishy. The kind of “business” that pays for giant mansions and holidays for kids while his wife doesn’t work? Okay then…
The presence of his aggressive, thieving and generally rather underhand brother Frank certainly adds weight to the argument, with Frank cast as Home Alone’s equivalent of Fredo Corleone from The Godfather. Oh and let’s not forget Buzz, who serves as a precursor to Chris Penn’s Nice Guy Eddie from Reservoir Dogs, and serves as Peter’s loyal bulldog of a son.
There are those that claim Peter’s brother, the mysterious Uncle Rob, pays for everyone to go to France – but doesn’t that strike you as a tad unrealistic? Someone’s uncle paying for that many people to go on holiday? Do you know of an uncle that would do that? It would be tens of thousands of dollars. It just doesn’t make sense.
Unless Peter persuaded his brother to cover for the fact he was spending well beyond his means – he has money to burn from his criminal activities, after all. Brazenly spending that much would surely have alerted his blissfully unaware wife to his dodgy practices – not to mention the cops. It’s not like Rob had his life that much together that he could fork out all that money either – just look at the state of his New York apartment in the second movie for further proof.
Then there’s the film itself. In an early scene, Joe Pesci’s Harry dresses up as a police officer to scope out the house while the McCallisters are still there. He asks a number of family members questions about the residence but when Peter arrives on the scene he immediately greets what he thinks is a police officer with suspicion. “Am I in some Kind of trouble officer?” he asks, almost like he has something to hide.
There is also Harry and Marv’s fixation with the McCallister house. Described as “The Silver Tuna” they are completely obsessed with the large property which they view as their big score.
Yet look around the neighbourhood the McCallisters live in – every house is incredible. And it’s not like the house is littered with valuable items like jewellery, expensive cars or much of anything either. Unless the real “prize” is something hidden in that spooky basement – you know the one Kevin is afraid of. It’s almost as if Peter McCallister is trying to put him off going down there all these years…
Then there’s Kevin himself; a borderline psychopath whose innate homicidal instincts take over in a series of elaborate traps/torture devices. And who taught him that stuff? Pops, that’s who.
And let’s just talk about Kevin’s strange fascination with those “Angels With Filthy Souls” movies. How did a kid his age find out about violent black and white mob movies like that in the first place? There’s no chance Buzz would watch anything that old, meaning there’s really only one guy who is likely to have introduced him to them: Peter. Do they remind him of home or the old days or something? It’s weird.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, viewers see how, in Home Alone 2, Kevin benefits from being left with his dad’s bag, which happens to be stuffed full of cash and traveller’s cheques. Was Peter planning on going on the run once and for all?
By the end of the second movie, Peter isn’t mad so much at the bill he’s run up – it’s more the fact that the authorities now have him on record spending exorbitant amounts of cash way beyond his means. Chances are he fled the country after ringing his son’s neck for bringing down his criminal empire.
And why do they never return for another film? Because Peter McCallister is behind bars while his family has been forced to sell the home. Now it all makes sense.