When the original Home Alone
came out, I was 9. A typical lowbrow fourth-grader who would ignore the plot, and just laugh at the slapstick violence in the finale, right?
had a simple, but good, story. It's right there in the title: a kid is left home alone by accident when his parents go off on vacation and mistakenly leave him behind. What would a little kid do if home all by himself? Well, Kevin exercises his newfound freedom by trashing his older brother's bedroom and ordering pizza over the phone. He also tries out adult responsibilities, like buying groceries, and discovers that it's harder than it seems. It's great fun seeing Kevin dumped into the "real world", with no parental supervision or help, try to make it on his own for a while.
The robbers are a nice subplot that adds a bit more suspense to the story. They pose a real threat that Kevin assumes (at first) he can't possibly handle on his own. He tries subterfuge at first, and seeing Kevin try to trick the robbers into thinking that there's other people in the house is a lot of fun. He's a clever, resourceful kid, trying to handle an intimidating situation and doing so using his wits.
At least, until the third act. Once Kevin realizes the robbers are going to break into his house anyway, he sets traps all over the place to try to thwart them. And thwart them he does, in the form of slapstick violence so well known that we practically have a name for it - as when anyone says "Home Alone antics", we instantly know what they're talking about. This part was great fun as well when I was a kid, and was a very enjoyable way to close out an otherwise intelligently written, entertaining and lightly suspenseful movie.
Sadly, it overshadowed all the other elements. A kid in my class told me he didn't care about the scenes where Kevin tricked people into thinking he had company in the house. I remember thinking he was classless for being like that, and sadly came to the conclusion that, hey, maybe all kids my age were like that. Why? Such a well-told story with so many elements, and all most people care about is the violence at the end? It's like an insult to all the effort put into the movie. I feel as if it might be better off without the slapstick.