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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Stern’

homealoneThe reason the scenario of “Home Alone” is so funny is that it is a joke.

A joke, at root, is the juxtaposition of incongruous elements, often to humorous effect.  In this case, the joke is on the Wet Bandits, two full-grown, mean burglars who are outwitted and banged up by a little 8-year-old boy.

How, precisely, does this unlikely turn of affairs happen?  How is Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) able to outsmart his formidable burgling foes?

At the risk of oversimplifying, I’ll suggest that it’s because Kevin knows his own house.  Moreover, he knows how to use it against the intruders who want to plunder it.

Wet BanditsBurglars Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), on the other hand, are coming into this situation with a decided disadvantage.  Not only are they coming into what is not their own, they are also “zeroing in” on what they can use for their own purposes.  So their eyes are going to be on things like how to get into the house (Marv is an expert lock-picker) and on what they want to take with them when they leave (jewelry, etc).

Kevin at HomeKevin’s vantage point comes from being at home within the house, so his perspective is one of belonging, of “placed-ness.”

Use is not bad in itself — it’s even necessary in many cases.  It is when use becomes the governing principle of our lives and relations that we get into trouble, because then questions of right and wrong become subject to questions of usefulness.

Demons Torment S.t AnthonyAnd that’s where the spiritual analogy comes in.  The world and humanity have their own “Harry and Marv” — namely, the devil and his rebel angels (a.k.a. demons).  The Satanic attitude toward the world can only be one of use — of appropriating persons, places, and things for egotistical and power-hungry purposes.  This is even — perhaps especially — the case when use means destruction.

Simon_Bening_-_The_Temptation_of_ChristLucky, we also have a Kevin.  As the Eternal Word (Logos), Jesus Christ knows His own universe inside and out.  Yet He doesn’t stop there.  He comes to “pitch His tent among us” (John 1:14), becoming at-home with us.  He outsmarts the devil as a sort of small child (literally, upon first entering the world), turning him away as surely as Kevin McCallister turns away the Wet Bandits.

When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe.  But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. (Luke 11: 21-22)

Let’s walk briefly through Kevin’s creative uses of house materials against the Wet Bandits, some of which are foreshadowed early in the film.  At the beginning, Kevin’s dad tells him to “pick up those Micro Machines…Aunt Leslie slipped on one of them and almost broke her neck.”  Fans will recall that he later disperses these Micro Machines at the base of stairway, causing Harry and Marv to go flying.

Marv_Tarantula Kevin’s brother, Buzz, has a pet tarantula.  Kevin will later use him to scare off Marv when the latter gets a hold of his ankle.

I could go on and on, from Kevin’s use of irons, Christmas tree ornaments, paint cans, etc.  But I think you get the point.

Finally, how does Jesus Christ use His “household materials” to outwit the devil?  Again, we’ll just run through a few examples:

  • Water – used to take our children out of the devil’s hands in Baptism
  • Bread and wine — As a Catholic, I believe in the doctrine according to which He gives the priest power to turn these into His very Body and Blood in the Mass
  • Suffering — Christ can use this to bring us closer to Him

And of course there are many other things in our material world and everyday lives that He makes use of for our salvation, sanctification, and edification (this topic deserves a whole separate post; maybe I’ll do one in the future).  In all cases, we can afford to laugh a bit at the “burglars” who are flipped onto their heads and made fools of, and to smile at the Clever Child Who outsmarts them in defense of what is His own.

I didn’t realize until just now that it is one year to the day that I posted “‘Home Alone’ Redux.”  Time flies, doesn’t it?  Thanks for reading!

All “Home Alone” images obtained through a Google image search; remaining images from Wikipedia

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