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'Home Alone' celebrates 25th anniversary – what keeps viewers coming back?

'Home' stars Macaulay Culkin as a young boy who is accidentally left behind when his family goes on vacation for the holidays. He must soon contend with bumbling burglars.

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    'Home Alone' stars Macaulay Culkin.
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The film “Home Alone” is on plenty of TVs at this time of year, and it’s having a celebration of its own, with the movie having been released 25 years ago. 

“Home” stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a young boy who’s accidentally left at his house by himself when his family goes on vacation for Christmas. He soon finds himself going up against bumbling criminals (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) when the criminals decide they want to rob his house. 

The movie also stars Catherine O’Hara and John Candy. 

“Home” became a box office hit when it was released. It could be called the most successful recent holiday movie of all time – other major hits like 2000’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and 2003’s “Elf” grossed below the 1990 movie.

The success of “Home” led to sequels and the first movie is often named as one of the best holiday movies ever released. 

What keeps viewers returning to the movie over the years?

“Home” is often best remembered for a sequence near the end of the film in which Kevin sets various traps for the would-be robbers about to enter his home, which results in various slapstick scenes. 

But the movie’s story is also very much about family, with Kevin wishing he could make his family go away forever and then believing he has done it when he wakes up in an empty house. “Home” cinematographer Julio Macat recently recalled how they wanted to make the house where the family lived look welcoming. 

“When the family goes away, they go into this colder look,” he said. “We purposefully designed the airport and the sets for Paris to be on the cool side to create that contrast of going against the warm feelings of home.” 

And “Home” director Chris Columbus recently said he was first attracted to the idea of directing the movie by a different scene than the end "battle" sequence. In a scene before the robbers come to his home, Kevin goes to church and meets an elderly neighbor (Roberts Blossom) that he had previously feared. He and the neighbor talk about what’s troubling them, including matters with their families.

“I thought there was a really strong emotional context to the film,” Columbus said. “I think what really completely convinced me I had to do the movie was the scene in the church with the old man and Kevin. I just thought that was a beautifully written scene.” 

“Home” casting director Janet Hirshenson said in an interview she’s still affected by the sequence. 

“I cry every time they do that church scene, still,” she said.

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