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Kudos to Culkin

Eileen Duffy | Monday, January 17, 2005

After seeing him in all his glory in the recent movie “Saved,” I feel compelled to offer some thoughts on one of the greatest and most under appreciated actors of our time: Macaulay Culkin.

Sure, he’s done some crazy things in his life, including getting married at the ripe old age of 17. I believe, however, that his acting has greatly affected our generation, specifically in his masterpiece, “Home Alone.”

I am willing to bet that 90 percent of this campus has seen the film “Home Alone,” and with good reason. Just 10-years-old when the movie came out in 1990, Culkin artfully captures the excitement of eight-year-old Kevin McAllister’s newfound independence as well as the childlike fear of being alone.

Culkin is remarkably articulate for his age in “Home Alone.” He asks the tongue-twisting question, “Excuse me, is this toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association?” with perfect grace. His verbose post-shower monologue – ending in the familiar “Home Alone” scream – suggests he could be ready for Shakespeare…

“I took a shower washing every body part with actual soap; including all my major crevices; including in between my toes and in my belly button which I never did before but sort of enjoyed,” says Kevin to his reflection in the mirror. “I washed my hair with adult formula shampoo and used cream rinse for that just-washed shine. I can’t seem to find my toothbrush, so I’ll pick one up when I go out today. Other than that, I’m in good shape.”

As a youngest child myself, Culkin speaks to my heart when he, as Kevin, tackles his brother Buzz for eating all the plain cheese pizza. Just a few minutes later, when forced to go up to the third floor, Culkin beautifully alternates between the remorseful Kevin and the angry one who daringly wishes for his family to disappear. Much later in the film, Kevin opens a door to find himself face-to-face with his enemies, Harry and Marv – Culkin’s look of shock is truly Oscar-worthy.

Yes, as Kevin, Culkin often conveys a great deal with few, or even no words at all. When he first discovers he is home alone, Kevin sits at the kitchen counter for a good think – Culkin’s face moves from puzzlement to devilish elation as he announces, “I made my family disappear.” One afternoon, Kevin’s grocery bags break as he is walking home from the store; his subsequent sigh is heart-wrenching. Finally, upon his mother’s Christmas morning arrival, Culkin’s ear-to-ear grin has moved me to tears.

So take another look at “Home Alone” when you get a chance. I know it’s not fun to watch Marv step on those glass ornaments or smash the tarantula on Harry’s face, but do it for Macaulay – he’s a gem.

Kevin, thanks to Macaulay, you are not a disease.