Home Alone appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an inconsistent transfer.
Sharpness was one concern, though I found difficult to evaluate due to the movie’s visual design. The filmmakers clearly wanted a warm, homey feel to the project, so some of the softness I saw appeared to come from this; Alone went with a slightly fuzzy look to reflect this tone. However, I thought the transfer was a bit softer than expected, even given the apparent photographic choices. The movie was never terribly soft, and clarity improved as it progressed, but it could have been better defined.
No issues with shimmering or jagged edges occurred, and the image lacked edge haloes. Source flaws were happily absent. Only a few minor source defects occurred, as I noticed a speck or two but that was it. This was otherwise a clean and smooth presentation – though maybe too smooth, as I occasionally wondered if digital noise reduction affected the definition, as the frequent absence of real detail in the close-ups threw off a “smoothed out” impression.
Home Alone presented some warm and natural colors. I thought the hues looked tight and pleasant throughout the film, and they showed no problems related to bleeding, noise, or other issues. Skin tones were a little ruddy at times, though. Black levels looked nicely deep and rich, and shadow detail was appropriately dense but not excessively thick. The softness/smoothness was the main concern here, and the reason I thought a “B-” was appropriate.
I felt more pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Home Alone. The soundfield offered a pretty engaging affair, though it stayed true to the film’s comic roots. Those kinds of movies usually don’t provide active soundtracks, and while Alone had some wild moments toward its end, the spectrum usually remained appropriately subdued. However, music showed good stereo separation in the front channels, and the score also spread very nicely to the surrounds. The forward domain displayed good atmosphere, with clean localization of sounds and smooth integration.
In addition to the usual ambience they added, the rear speakers also kicked in some louder support at times. For example, airport scenes included realistic elements that made those segments come to life. This track featured a little stereo surround material on occasion, as some atmospheric bits clearly came localized in the back. This wasn’t a dazzling soundfield, but it seemed quite good given its era and the flick’s genre.
Audio quality was perfectly solid. Dialogue sounded natural and distinct throughout the film, and I discerned no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects were clear and appropriately accurate. The climactic scenes displayed the right levels of comic exaggeration and impact, and the whole affair lacked any distortion.
Music sounded surprisingly robust and vivid, as the score became a fairly active partner in the package. Low-end also seemed to be nicely rich and deep. Ultimately, the soundtrack of Home Alone has held up well.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2006 “Family Fun Edition” DVD? Audio worked a bit better, as the lossless mix showed more pep and life. Visuals were also improved, though not by as much as one might expect; indeed, the higher resolution of Blu-ray made the movie’s soft elements more obvious. The Blu-ray was still superior to the DVD, but the general softness made it a less clear step up than usual.
Most of the 2006 DVD’s extras repeat here, and we begin with an audio commentary from director Chris Columbus and actor Macaulay Culkin. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They chat about how Columbus came onto the project, Culkin’s casting and performance, the script and working with John Hughes, constrictions related to budget and child labor laws, score and songs, cinematography, locations and production design, unused concepts, cast and tensions on the set, score and how John Williams got the gig, stunts, and general filming notes.
Going into this track, I worried it would be little more than “wasn’t that fun?” and “wasn’t that great” nostalgia. Happily, it turned out to be a lively and informative discussion. Columbus and Culkin interact well as they display charm and frankness. In addition to notes about the ways the adult actors occasionally seemed to resent Culkin’s starring status, we find amusing details about goofs in the final flick. We get a good sense of the production along with many fine stories about the shoot. This is a consistently engaging and enjoyable commentary.
A slew of featurettes come next. Mac Cam: Behind the Scenes with Macaulay Culkin goes for four minutes, 45 seconds. As implied by the title, we see video footage Culkin shot on the O’Hare Airport set. We get a few comments from Culkin now and then as we watch him and the others during the shoot. It’s a cute artifact but not an especially revealing or interesting one.
A 1990 Press Featurette fills a mere three minutes, 52 seconds with notes from Culkin, Columbus, and actors Catherine O’Hara, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. We get some basics about the story, characters and production. No real information appears, but some of the footage from the set proves moderately intriguing. This remains a highly promotional piece, though, so don’t expect much from it.
More behind the scenes material comes from the seven-minute and three-second How to Burglar-Proof Your Home: The Stunts of Home Alone. This features stunt coordinator Freddie Hice, director of photography Julio Macat, executive producers Tarquin Gotch and Scott Rosenfelt and stunt double Troy Brown. Like you might expect, this piece examines how the crew executed the movie’s over the top pratfalls and stunts. Unfortunately, it lacks a lot of detail. We find none of the shots from the set that would help illustrate the elements, and the stories prove only moderately illuminating. This is a subject ripe for exploration, but “Stunts” doesn’t give us a very good examination of the issues.
One of the disc’s longer pieces, The Making of Home Alone goes for 19 minutes and 24 seconds. It includes notes from Columbus, Macat, Gotch, Stern, Culkin, Brown, Hice, Rosenfelt, composer John Williams, executive producer Mark Levinson, and casting director Janet Hirshenson. “Making” looks at the movie’s script and its visual look, the atmosphere on the set, casting and performances, score, and the film’s continued appeal.
This turns into a moderately interesting program. A few useful notes appear, but the piece lacks the depth of the commentary. Expect a decent overview of the production that fails to deliver a ton of substance.
Home Alone Around the World lasts three minutes, 52 seconds. It takes various snippets of the movie and shows them dubbed in various languages. It’s a cute extra, especially since we can compare the foreign voices to those of the original actors.
For the final featurette, we get the three-minute and two-second Where’s Buzz Now?. This gives us the opinions of Rosenfelt, Hice, Hirshenson, Levinson, Gotch, Macat, Brown, and actor Devin Ratray in character as Buzz. All of them tell us what they think happened to Kevin’s obnoxious brother. It’s mildly interesting at best, though one look at Ratray establishes that Buzz spent most of the time since 1990 eating – he developed into a serious tub!
A Blooper Reel runs two minutes and four seconds. Most of this presents the usual flubs and giggles, though a couple of interesting bits appear. It’s fun to see Stern annoy Pesci with his claps to synch the film.
Angels with Filthy Souls goes for two minutes, six seconds. This features notes from Rosenfelt, Levinson, and Macat as they discuss the little “movie within the movie”. We then get to see the brief bit of footage all on its own. That makes it a cool addition.
Of great interest to fans, we get 15 Deleted Scenes/Alternate Takes. These fill a total of 15 minutes, four seconds. These extend the segments in the house before the family leaves, and Marv tells us why he hates Christmas. We also get to meet the relatives in Paris and see much more of the family as they sit around there.
The funniest bits are the shortest ones. I like Uncle Frank’s childish practical joke on Kevin, and the kid’s declaration of “I don’t remember the food groups” produces a quirky chuckle. Another Marv and Harry piece almost turns into a reprise of Pesci’s classic “Do I amuse you?” riff from GoodFellas. Some of the clips bore, but there’s enough good stuff here to entertain the fans.
(By the way, when I reviewed the 2006 DVD, I mentioned that the deleted scenes/alternate takes filled 16 minutes, 31 seconds. It also included 15 snippets, and I assume they’re the same; I no longer own the DVD, so I can’t compare. I don’t know if I messed up the timing of the DVD’s scenes or if there was something cut along the way, so I can’t accurately account for the difference. I wanted to mention it, though.)
The Blu-ray drops some games from the DVD as well as trailers for Home Alone. Fox on Blu-ray throws in a promo for The Simpsons Movie.
Home Alone didn’t do much for me in 1990 and that hasn’t changed over the years. I can’t deny that it has a few charms - mainly via some solid performances - but as a whole it seems inane and excessively mean-spirited. The Blu-ray offers very good along with erratic but generally positive picture and some extras highlighted by a lot of deleted scenes and a simply terrific audio commentary. Picture inconsistencies make this a less than stellar presentation, but it’s still the best Home Alone yet to hit the market.
To rate this film visit the Family Fun Edition review of HOME ALONE