I sure hope that blog title got you thinking, or perhaps it didn't. Some would say that Christmas and pain go hand in hand...whether its the pain of anticipation and waiting for the day to come so we can rip into the presents, the pain of lonliness and having no where to go for those with little options, the emotional pain involved with having lots of relatives in the house, or even the simple pain of not being able to figure out the perfect gift for a special person. I think a lot of people underestimate how much pain goes into the holiday season, as we are socialized to think that December is a time for us all to be generous, loving, and giving and to believe that everyone has someone to spend it with. We tend to forget (whenever the TV and radio will let us) that there are people out there who are less fortunate than us and don't have someone to spend the big day with or they can't afford what the big day costs (cause Xmas is expensive when you do it right). Oh, and lets not forget those of us who don't celebrate Christmas and celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa...or something else entirely. But wait a minute, I've gone and gone off on a tangent. What I wanted to talk about was Christmas and physical pain.
Its probably hard to imagine this festive time offering up much more in the realm of physical pain than a burn or cut in the kitchen (you can count on one of each for my mother every year) and the occasional 'putting together a present' accident. However, for a few years in the early 90s, Christmas was synonymous with physical pain for two men named Harry and Marv because they happened to have the misfortune of crossing the path of one Kevin McCallister...twice. Yes friends, tonight I am watching Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York back to back. Some might ask why I would endure such punishment...Home Alone hasn't been a hit since those first two films (and the second had a good hand in removing the love of it for some people)...but I find it difficult to watch one without the other. The first film is a great offering by screenwriter John Hughes which presents a holiday travel 'what if' situation that at times, feels very realistic and offers many opportunities for comedy (especially that of the slapstick variety...you know what I'm talking about) and then there's the second film. The second film commits what has come to be regarded as the cardinal sin in sequel-making, rehashing the first film. What's interesting about this sin is that, before a film comes out, you can literally see and hear people hoping that it will be the same as the first and as much fun...and then when it is released, they complain about it not being different enough. I'm not sure what the cause is of this psychological double standard with film, but I think it would be worth a research grant to figure out...movie studios might finally be able to really find out what audiences want for a change. However, all that negativity aside...I actually prefer the second film to the first. I know its a rehash, full of flat jokes, and too long, but I think the whole outweighs the sum of its parts. The fact that the film works New York City into the equation, and manages to get some great actors to fill the shoes of the new supporting characters is cool in itself. But upping the ante with the traps was a hit with me too. Home Alone was to booby traps as Friday the 13th was to murder set pieces. I mean they sold the entire franchise on the 'bigger and better and more elaborate' concept in each case. I feel that the traps in part one were more of an after thought to show how our pint sized hero had learned to be clever and independent...but the traps in part two are like Olympic events. Part of the fun of the second film is the anticipation leading up to them...though some people thought that getting there took too long. To those people, I say "enjoy the character development for a change...the pigeon lady stuff is classic!'
I don't expect anyone to share my steadfast love for Home Alone 1 and 2 (I don't share the same love for parts 3 and 4....oh yes, there is a 4 sadly) but I always watch them at Christmas because they fall somewhere between holiday sentimentality and senseless violence...and perhaps in that way they mirror the real season. We get sappy and sentimental when were with our loved ones, watching them open our gifts and saying the toast or prayer at dinner...and then we trample people at Wal-Mart on Black Friday and steal a scarf from an old lady because it will be just perfect for someone we know. Overanalysis? Maybe, but you can't deny the parallel if you really think about it.