Home Alone is a 1990 Christmas comedy film directed by Chris Columbus and written and produced by John Hughes. The first film in the Home Alone franchise, the film stars Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Catherine O'Hara. Culkin plays Kevin McCallister, a boy who defends his suburban Chicago home from burglars after his family accidentally leaves him behind on their Christmas vacation to Paris.
The McCallister family is preparing to spend Christmas in Paris, gathering at Kate and Peter's home in a Chicago suburb on the night before their departure. Kate and Peter's youngest son, Kevin, is the subject of ridicule by his older siblings and cousins. Kevin inadvertently ruins the family dinner after a brief scuffle with his oldest brother Buzz, in which Kevin's airplane ticket is accidentally thrown away, resulting in Kate sending him up to the attic. Kevin berates his mother for allowing the rest of the family to pick on him and wishes that his family would disappear. During the night, heavy winds create a power outage, disabling the alarm clocks and causing the family to oversleep. In the confusion and rush to get to the airport, Kevin is accidentally left behind.
Kevin wakes to find the house empty, and the family cars still in the garage, unaware that they had rented vans to take them to the airport. Thinking that his wish has come true, he is overjoyed with his newfound freedom. Later, Kevin becomes frightened by his next door neighbor, "Old Man" Marley, who is rumored to be a serial killer who murdered his own family. The McCallister home is soon stalked by the "Wet Bandits", Harry and Marv, a pair of burglars who have been breaking into other vacant houses in the neighborhood. Kevin tricks them into thinking that his family is still home, forcing them to postpone their plans to rob the McCallister house.
Kate realizes mid-flight that Kevin was left behind, and upon arrival in Paris, the family discovers that all flights for the next two days are booked, and that the phone lines are still down back home in Chicago. Peter and the rest of the family stay in his brother's apartment in Paris, while Kate manages to get a flight back to Scranton, Pennsylvania. She tries to find a flight to Chicago, but all the flights are booked. Kate is overheard by Gus Polinski, the lead member of a traveling polka band, who offers to let her travel with them to Chicago in a moving van.
Meanwhile, on Christmas Eve, Harry and Marv finally realize that only Kevin is in the McCallister home, and Kevin overhears them discussing plans to break into the house that night. Kevin starts to miss his family and asks the local Santa Claus impersonator if he could bring his family back for Christmas. He goes to church and watches a choir perform, and encounters Marley, who proves the rumors about him are false. Marley points out his granddaughter in the choir, and mentions he has never met her since she is the daughter of his estranged son. Kevin suggests to Marley that he should reconcile with his son.
Kevin returns home and rigs the house with booby traps. Harry and Marv break in, spring the traps, and suffer various injuries. While Harry and Marv pursue Kevin around the house, he calls the police and lures the duo into a vacant neighboring house which they had previously broken into. Harry and Marv ambush Kevin and prepare to get their revenge, but Marley intervenes and knocks them out with his snow shovel. The police arrive and arrest Harry and Marv, having identified all the houses that they broke into due to their habit of flooding them.
On Christmas Day, Kevin is initially disappointed to find that his family is still gone, but Kate arrives home and they reconcile. The rest of the family then returns after waiting in Paris until they could obtain a direct flight to Chicago. Kevin keeps silent about his encounter with Harry and Marv, although Peter finds Harry's knocked-out gold tooth. Kevin then watches Marley reuniting with his son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter.
Writer and producer John Hughes conceived Home Alone while preparing to go on vacation. He said: "I was going away on vacation, and making a list of everything I didn't want to forget. I thought, 'Well, I'd better not forget my kids.' Then I thought, 'What if I left my 10-year-old son at home? What would he do?'" Hughes wrote eight pages of notes that developed into the screenplay. Imagining that children are naturally most scared of robbers, Hughes also worked that aspect into the plot of the film.
By the time the film had run its course in theaters, Home Alone was the third-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, as well as in the United States and Canada behind only Star Wars ($322 million at the time) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ($399 million at the time), according to the home video box. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 67.7 million tickets in the United States. It was also the highest-grossing Christmas film until it was surpassed by Dr. Seuss' The Grinch in 2018. The film made Culkin a child star.
The 1989 French horror thriller film 3615 code Père Noël, which is about a young boy who is home alone with his elderly grandfather and has to fend off a home invader dressed up as Santa Claus, has been noted for its plot similarities to Home Alone. 3615 code Père Noël director René Manzor threatened the producers of Home Alone with legal action on the grounds of plagiarism, alleging that Home Alone was a remake of his film. 3615 code Père Noël was not released in the United States during its original theatrical run in January 1990 and did not become widely available there until 2018.
In December 2015, Culkin reprised his role as an adult Kevin McCallister in the inaugural episode of the Jack Dishel web series, "DRYVRS", where a visibly disturbed Kevin recounts his experience of being left home alone by his family. In response to Culkin's video, Daniel Stern appeared in a short video reprising his role as Marv, released in conjunction with Stern's Reddit AMA, where he pleads for Harry to return to help protect him against Kevin's traps.
This study builds on the landmark Home Alone study, which was the first national look at how family caregivers are managing medical/nursing tasks, such as managing medications, changing dressings, and other tasks in the home setting, that are typically performed by trained professionals in hospitals.
Children in primary school aged 6-12 are usually too young to walk home from school alone, babysit or cook for themselves without adult supervision. If you need to leave them home, it's worth considering leaving them at a friend's house, with family or finding some suitable childcare. We have advice about this below.
As your child gets older, talk to them about how they feel about being left home alone. If they're worried, work out what parts of being home alone worry them. Do they feel safe in the neighbourhood? Are they afraid of the dark?
Give your child a call every so often. If it's the first time they've been left alone, try to check in regularly. Even if your child is older and has been left home alone before, you should still check in once every few hours, particularly if you're out late.
Make sure that any potentially dangerous things like tools, knives and prescription medicines are safely out of harm's way before you go out. If they have allergies, be careful that there's nothing in the house that could trigger a reaction. If you have pets, think about whether it's safe to leave your child home with them unsupervised.
As you build up to leaving your child alone for longer stretches, keep checking in and making sure they're comfortable. Being left home alone for an hour is very different to being alone for a whole afternoon or overnight.