To read more of Sharp’s Christmas Movie Smackdown, click here.
Full disclosure: I didn’t watch either of these movies until adulthood. Which means I have no sappy nostalgic allegiance to one or the other. It’s all grownup cynicism here.
That being said, Home Alone is possibly the worst Christmas movie of all time. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.
Holiday movies generally follow a formula: a main character who lacks Christmas spirit, a ragtag supporting cast who helps him to see the light, a change in demeanour from despondent to hopeful, and a classic song as the credits roll. It’s pretty simple. The pessimistic hero is a vehicle for viewers to rectify their own bitter thoughts about Christmas. We’re all saved by the end.
This classic recipe is obliterated by Home Alone. The main character is Kevin, an eight-year-old whose family forgets him at home as they jet off to Paris, leaving him to defend their house against two sociopathic burglars. There is no heart-warming salvation to this film. Kevin’s family is the absolute worst, his siblings are cruel and even his parents won’t come to his defence when an uncle calls him a jerk. The burglars seem to have no qualms about trying to seriously harm a child and even though they themselves get viciously attacked, at no point do they decide to simply rob another house. And then, there’s Kevin. A tiny psychopath in the making. Under the guise of protecting his home, he decides that instead of going to the police (he can do laundry and shop for groceries but not walk to the closest precinct?) he’s going to torture these guys to near death. Then his mom comes home, and it’s all fine.
Scrooged, the Bill Murray vehicle that modernizes A Christmas Carol, follows the rules and lets us watch a man who needs redemption from being a shit human being all of his life. Between unrequited love and visits from the ghosts, it fits the mold of the standard feel-good Christmas flick, but Murray’s Frank Cross is so delightfully caustic that it keeps the movie from becoming too saccharine for its own good. The rest of the cast is hilarious too (Carol Kane is a damn gem), the physical humour is great and the revelation at the end is sincerely moving.
It seems strange to castigate Home Alone for refusing to stick to conventions, but it simply goes too far. The story of an unhinged, homicidal demon child and the two bumbling criminals he tortures? Not exactly a beacon of Christmas spirit.
We’ll take Bill Murray scream-singing Christmas carols over that hot mess any day.
The Winner: Scrooged