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Believe it or not, the Blu-ray edition of HOME ALONE ($35) marks the first time this reviewer has sat down to watch this film in its entirety. I have caught bits and pieces of HOME ALONE on cable over the years, but never had the impetus to sit and digest the entire film. So what did I think??? Probably the same thing a lot of folks did and doÖ HOME ALONE is a very cute and oftentimes very funny, family Christmas movie. The slapstick antics during the filmís climatic sequence are definitely what sticks out in ones mind, but the film does have a good deal of heart, and has a nice little subplot about finding redemption and the love of oneís family during the holiday season.

Since I may not be the only one who hadnít seen this nearly twenty-year-old film, let me go over the premise of HOME ALONE. The film opens with an introduction a very extended version of the McCallister family, all of whom have congregated at one house, and are now rushing around, packing and bickering all in anticipation of a holiday trip to France, which they will be leaving for in the morning. Of course, the wintry weather temporarily knocked out the electricity during the night, so the entire McCallister brood manages to oversleep. In the rush to get everyone out the door, and into the two waiting shuttle vans, eight year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally overlooked by a cousin doing the headcount, and is left home alone.

Only after the plane has taken off, does Kevin's mother Kate (Catherine O'Hara) realize that they forgot about her son, who had been sent off to bed in the attic, the night before, after causing a ruckus during the familyís dinner. As you might expect, the phones are still out at the McCallister home, so Kate canít reach Kevin to let him know what has happened. When Kevin awakens and discovers that his family is nowhere to be seen, he just assumes that Santa has granted him an early Christmas wish. Of course, Kevinís joy of being of being able to do anything he wants is quickly ended, when he realizes that a pair of burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) have targeted his home. Now, the man of the house, Kevin finds a sense of responsibility beyond his years, and makes it his goal to protect him home from the burglars. The cast of HOME ALONE also features John Heard, Larry Hankin, John Candy and Roberts Blossom who gives the filmís most memorable and touching performance.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made HOME ALONE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation isnít going to set anyoneís world on fire, but for a little family movie from 1990, it looks rather nice. Image sharpness and detail are pretty good for a film from this period, but it canít hold a candle to new movies. By comparison, HOME ALONE tends to come across as slightly soft. Fine detail is adequate, and depending on how any sequence was shot, dimensionality is variable. Director Chris Columbus has never been notable for a significant visual style; perhaps that is the reason HOME ALONE looks somewhat flat and sitcom-like. Colors lean toward the warm side, and appear saturated at rather nice level. Flesh tones sometimes come across a little too rosy, but for the most part look fine. The blacks and whites hold their own and are rendered without problems. Contrast and shadow detail are adequate. The elements from which HOME ALONE has been mastered do show occasional minor blemishes. Grain is noticeable, but not beyond what one would normally see on a film of this vintage.

HOME ALONE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For the most part, HOME ALONE features a standard comedy mix and a vintage one for that matter. However, during the more slapstick moments, the outlying channels engage for a few active effects. Additionally, the material is usually quite front heavy, with some stereo imaging. In addition, the surrounds do supply some ambient sounds and a bit of musical fill. In terms of fidelity, there is nothing exceptional about the sound. I will credit the bass channel for supplying a surprising amount of reinforcement to the track. French, Spanish and Portuguese DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, in addition to an English 2.0 Dolby Surround track. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Chris Columbus and actor Macaulay Culkin. Featurettes include: a 1990 Press Featurette (four minutes), The Making Of Home Alone (twenty minutes), Mac Cam: Behind The Scenes With Macaulay Culkin (five minutes), How To Burglar Proof Your Home: The Stunts Of Home Alone (seven minutes), Home Alone Around The World (four minutes), Whereīs Buzz Now? (three minutes) and Angels With Filthy Souls (two minutes). Deleted Scenes, Alternate Takes and a Blooper Reel close out the supplements.

As I stated above, HOME ALONE is a very cute and oftentimes very funny family Christmas movie. The Blu-ray presentation is nice, but not phenomenal. If you donít already own the movie, or you are looking to upgrade, you canít go wrong with the Blu-ray. Just donít expect a hi-def demo disc.



Home Alone [Blu-ray] (1990)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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