Re-Reviews (Christmas / Pizza Edition): ‘Home Alone’

Our relationship with art changes over time. In our instantaneous iPhone age, we don’t live with albums or movies or TV shows or books like we used to. With Re-Reviews, we re-explore our relationship with a piece of pop culture — and how that relationship evolves over time. We dismiss some art unfairly — or prematurely. Perhaps certain songs or bits of dialogue didn’t resonate because of our mood or our position in life. On the other hand, perhaps our adoration of some childhood favorite is clouded by nostalgia. Does this even matter?

Pizza, one of the most important if not beautifully understated characters in the 1990 family comedy Home Alone, has enjoyed seemingly exponential success both before and after the gargantuan blockbuster permanently permeated American pop culture back. Just ask Macaulay Culkin (Kevin McCallister) himself, who is currently spending his time as a member of The Pizza Underground, which is — as you probably didn’t expect — a pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band. Interestingly, Pizza — specifically, what it means to the inner child in us all (trapped alone somewhere in our parents’ house?) — actually speaks volumes with regards to the irrelevance of attempting to view this film “in context” to one’s current age, or the current realities facing our post-Kevin stabs at adulthood.

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My girlfriend recently insisted we watch Home Alone “in the spirit of the season,” which is worth nothing simply for the fact that I have (rather aloofly) never truly viewed Home Alone, or its New York-based mimic of a sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (The first two are don’t-think-too-much-about-what-is-actually-happening-here classics, while any subsequent installments in this franchise are inconsequential static) as a Christmas film, per se. For me, and my generally outwardly manifested inner child, this film rests — along with a few cherished others — comfortably in the cinema canon that is My Untouchable ’90s Youth, which is not an unnecessarily hyper-nostalgic wash on a problematic cultural era but, rather, a sometimes reluctant admission that, yes, I too had a childhood that I return to for comfort, not unlike my parents and grandparents I once admonished for such behavior.

But, anyway. Back to Pizza. I can say with confidence that I’m not the only person my age (26) who can roughly recall hundreds of evenings spent watching a marathon of rented VHS tapes on a rented VCR on days (usually weekends) I would eventually deem “Skibby Days,” which really just meant Pajama Days. These days were often boosted by the presence of Pizza, usually pick-up and never delivery. Sometimes store-bought oven offerings. I remember once eating an entire pizza on my own for my 10th birthday. I vomited, but goddammit, I felt accomplished.

Earlier this year, I finally transitioned to a fully vegan lifestyle. One of my biggest worries, understandably, was the thought of losing pizza (cheese and meat = no vegan cigar). Thankfully, most crusts and sauces are vegan, so my girlfriend and I will occasionally just order “crust and sauce only” then melt some faux cheese and tofu pepperonis atop it. Simply put, Pizza is really bad for us, and I realize that now. But I’ll be damned if I give it up entirely, hence my veganized attempts at keeping the Pizza dream (childhood) alive.

Much like Pizza, this film still very much has a place in my heart — an unshakeable position, even with a lot of age-informed critiques attempting to cloud my enjoyment. Sure, when Kevin starts pummelling Marv and Harry with a series of surprisingly violent counterattacks, anyone over the age of 10 is likely to wonder “Why is Kevin not terrified of these two deranged psychopaths who have stated, on several occasions, their individual and collective desires to murder him?” However, spending too much time on such worries ensures that you’re missing the point. And, what is the point, exactly?

Well, what is the point of Pizza?

Do we abandon it entirely at the first signs of “it’s bad for us”? Some likely do; but it’s more fun to just adapt your intake.

Faux cheese and tofu pepperonis, anyone?

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