Home Alone turns 25 this month, with theatrical screenings this week bringing the movie to a whole new audience: children born after the turn of the millennium. Add that to Home Alone’s heavy tv rotation for the past 24 years, and chances are, most of the kids in your life have seen it – and they have questions. I’ve watched Home Alone with the oldest six of my nieces and nephews – ages 4-8 – and it really brought home how much the world has changed since 1990. Here are just some of the topics of conversation that have come up during repeated viewings – the actual questions and answers, as best I can remember them, with real, post-2007-born kids.
They have to find a phone first. Plus Kevin’s phone lines were down. Your phone used to be attached to a wall, then there were wires. If the wires weren’t attached to the house, you couldn’t call.
But they could call his cell phone.
[If you want to feel really ancient, and you know my five-year-old nephew, ask him to explain phones in the ’90s to you. He takes on the tone of someone telling age-old folklore, and explains that “a long time ago, people used to have big books. You had to find the phone number in the big book, then you dialed it. EVERY TIME, they had to dial it. On buttons. If there were other people with the same name, you had to try all of them. The phone was only in their house. If someone wasn’t in their house, you couldn’t call them.” Thanks, Henry. Sounds just as awful as I remember.]
The wall. It’s attached to the wall.
Also, he can’t call his parents, because of the phone line thing.
Aren’t Kevin’s parents going to call one of the neighbors?
Yeah. I know. This isn’t really a cell phone thing, we wondered that in the 90s, too. But they probably didn’t have the phone numbers memorized. They may have had them handwritten in an address book, though. Ask Nana. She still has one.
[Note: after this exchange, we got to the part where she did try to call everyone, using – you guessed it – an address book.]
Because they’re garbage. That wasn’t a 90s thing either.
Would you ever forget me like that?
No, buddy. You’re unforgettable.
Plus Kevin’s family is garbage.
Why are the robbers listening to Kevin’s parents on the radio?
That was called an “answering machine.” When people weren’t home, you’d leave a message and they’d call you when they got back. Like voicemail.
Didn’t Kevin have to check in?
Airports were different. You used to be able to go all the way to the gate with people if you weren’t flying yourself, security basically meant that a person looked at you and checked your ticket, and if a big family of rich people stormed the check in desk, they really might have just waved them through. Kevin’s parents still should have noticed at that point, though. That’s on them.
[Note: We watched Home Alone last Thanksgiving right after driving through a Christmas light display featuring an American flag that said Never Forgotten. It was obviously purchased during the Christmas 2001 season when we were all wondering whether it was okay to be merry. Anyway, between that and his airport questions, that will always be the Thanksgiving that Jack (age 5) learned about 9/11.]
I know, right?