Home Alone Would Be a 6-Minute Short Today

In 2019 You’re Never Home Alone

I’m a sucker for a good holiday movie. Even the bad Hallmark ones are sometimes acceptable, like warm, tasteless white bread on a cold winter’s night.

Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York are different, of course. These two tales of the same annoying-yet-somehow-endearing youngster getting left alone on two consecutive Christmas vacation trips are the perfect holiday cookie dough blend of humor, slapstick, sentiment, and adorability, all baked to perfection and sprinkled with holiday cheer.

I try to catch at least one Home Alone (do not watch Home Alone 3, 4 or the execrable Home Alone: Holiday Heist) every holiday season and now, with Disney+, I can watch them whenever and wherever I want.

Home Alone in 2019
 Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

These iconic films are now about to turn 30 years old and, obviously, predate most of our cherished modern mobile and constantly connected technology.

It occurred to me that if Home Alone were made today, it would be a 6-minute short. A handful of readily available technologies and current cultural realities would’ve short-circuited Kevin McCallister’s predicament in no time flat:

  • Smartphones
  • The Internet
  • Find My
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth tags
  • Web cams
  • Cloud-based security systems
  • Drop-in video calling
  • Mobile Payment systems
  • Massive airport security

 In 2019 and for the foreseeable future, you’re never home alone.

Home Alone
Ah, to be truly alone. Fandango / 20th Century Fox

Call Kevin

Home Alone’s entire premise is based on a human having the agency and freedom to go unnoticed by at least two adults and five (or more) older children. Granted, the movie has always stretched the bounds of credibility, but pretty much all that elasticity is gone today.

There is a small chance that a modern-day 8-year-old McCallister might not have a smartphone in 2019. A 2016 study found that the average age of a child getting their first cellphone is 10.3. In that case, Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 1 and Home Alone 2, which arrived in theaters in 1992 but is set just one year after the events of the first film, might not have a smartphone on him for either of his adventures.

Drop in on Kevin

Home Alone
Aren't you forgetting something?.  20th Century Fox

In the first film, though, McCallister rarely ventures outside his Chicago, Illinois home. And the home of 2019 would have at least one smart device. A 2018 study found that 53 million Americans own at least one smart speaker. As we approach 2020, they own even more and some of those speakers probably include a screen and, yes, calling capability.

As soon as Kevin’s parent’s, Kate and Peter, realized he was missing, they would’ve picked up their cellphone (or any one of their teenage kids' handsets) and tried calling Kevin using, perhaps, Amazon Echo Show’s drop-in feature, which lets you call and see a blurry depiction of the home before the call recipient accepts the call and turns on their Echo Show’s camera full blast. The McCallisters see their son is still at home with aftershave on his face and turn around to go get him.

The film ends roughly 10 minutes in.

Watching Out for Kevin

Let’s say for some reason every McCallister phone is dead and not one stranger is willing to let the frantic parents use their phone. I know, that would never happen, but let’s say it did, Kevin is Home Alone and the “Wet Bandits,” Marv and Harry are about to try and rob his house.

First, the crooks have to canvas the place. In the original film, Harry poses as a cop and talks his way into the house. In 2019, he would’ve run into a Ring video doorbell and been asked by Mr. McCallister to show his ID to the camera.

Film ends at 8 minutes in.

Home Alone
You know the Nest Cam caught this. 20th Century Fox

Maybe the McCallisters didn’t bother with a video doorbell, but they might’ve invested in a popular smart home security system, which can include exterior Web cams, cloud-connected window and door open detectors, and handy apps that alert you to every single movement and intrusion.

The movie has always stretched the bounds of credibility, but pretty much all that elasticity is gone today.

A basement entrance Nest Outdoor Cam would’ve caught Marv’s spectacular, limits-of human endurance-defying fall outside the rear basement door and another cam might’ve captured Harry burning his hand on the front door doorknob. Those alerts would’ve been sent directly to the oblivious McCallisters.

Film ends at 1 hour 17 minutes.

Message Kevin

Kevin’s family was in a mad rush to make the flight. So, it’s possible they could’ve outrun every single alert and been airborne long before Kevin fully engaged with his tormentors. In 2019, at least one McCallister would’ve paid for inflight Wi-Fi, which means an alert or two would’ve made its way through. Kate McCallister would’ve used something as simple as Facebook Messenger and maybe a still-on and logged on laptop to contact Kevin directly and alert the local authorities.

Movie ends at 19 minutes.

Home Alone
Nest Cam saw this, too and alerted the McCallisters.  20th Century Fox

Tag Kevin

It’s more likely though, that Kevin’s family would’ve put a Bluetooth tag, perhaps a Tile, on the backpack of every under-10-year-old McCallister, which means that as soon as the van started driving away without Kevin an alert would’ve popped up on Kate’s Tile-connected app and she would’ve turned the van right around.

The film ends at 16 minutes.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York would be an even shorter film in 2019. Massive airport security means nobody accidentally wanders onto the wrong airplane, even an adorable little kid.

Film ends at 14 minutes.

So What

Time and technology move on and I know it’s silly to try and watch decades-old movies through the lens of modern technology. I also know that Disney has been thinking about rebooting the Home Alone franchise.

There’s simply no way they can remake and retell the same tale. The next Home Alone must be about something else, which means it won’t be about a scrappy, adorable kid left behind on the holidays. And that means I’ll just keep watching the original.

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