A Look Back At All The Incompetent Adults In 'Home Alone'

Which adult in Kevin McAllister's life was the most irresponsible?

WWJ News
November 29, 2019 - 12:03 pm
Red Christmas tree ornament

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By Kyle Beery

Let me preface this by saying "Home Alone" is one of my favorite movies of all time -- and that's not just Christmas movies. That's all time.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed and it’s officially socially acceptable to start watching holiday flicks, can we take a second to talk about all the incompetency among the adults in this movie?

From forgetting a child as you head off to a foreign land, to careless police, there are countless moments in this movie where you could say “if you’d just done this or hadn’t done that…” Kevin McAllister either wouldn't have been left at home, or at a bare minimum, someone would have shown up and helped him out.

Here’s a far-too-detailed breakdown of which adults in “Home Alone” were the most irresponsible and incompetent.

Quick rewind

If there’s anyone out there who hasn’t seen this Christmas classic, “Home Alone” is essentially a tale of a suburban Chicago family who leaves their child behind as they head off to Paris to visit family for Christmas.

Through a series of utterly perfect 90s film mishaps, Kevin, the youngest child, wishes his family would disappear and he wakes up the next day and everyone is gone. No one realizes he’s not with them until they’re somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

As his family tries to find a way to get back to him, or at least get in touch to make sure he’s okay, Kevin has to fend off a pair of bumbling bandits trying to ransack his home.

He winds up putting Marv and Harry (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, respectively) through a twisted house of horror and ends up being saved in the end by the neighbor he thought was a murderer.

There may be some (intentional) holes in that synopsis, but that’s the gist of it.

How could a family forget their child when they go overseas?

In short, there are a ton of ways leaving Kevin home alone could have been avoided.

The McAllister family as a whole is what the French call "Les Incompetent."


That’s right, every single adult was completely oblivious in the opening minutes of the movie. For starters, there’s a “police officer” standing in the front entry way for a good 15 minutes and nobody really seems to care that he’s there. Little did they know, that officer was actually a gold-toothed Joe Pesci standing inside the very home he longed to burglarize -- "the Silver Tuna," as he calls it.

Aunt Leslie walks by him a handful of times and doesn’t bat an eye. Uncle Frank – perhaps the most aloof of them all – takes a stack of pizzas from the delivery boy (who had just plowed over a lawn decoration) refuses to pay, and doesn’t even acknowledge there’s a police officer inside the house. Wouldn’t you at least stop and wonder if there was something wrong?

To be fair, there are no fewer than 10 kids running around, screaming at each other, hurling insults and even fighting with swords. So maybe you wouldn't notice the man in uniform. But on that note, let's do something about the roughhousing. 

When dad, Peter McAllister, comes downstairs, he at least engages with the disguised burglar before divulging the security measures he’s taken to protect his house – which, by the way, what on Earth does he do for a living to afford a mansion in the suburbs and fly his entire family to France? – and being whisked away by his oldest son, Buzz, to go merrily enjoy pizza and eggnog at the table.

Once mom, Kate McAllister, finally pays the pizza boy $122.50 plus tip and talks to the officer, the family is well on their way to scarfing down 10 pizzas.

That includes the cheese-only pizza ordered specially for Kevin, who hates sausage and olives and onions. Out of rage, Kevin attempts to tackle Buzz, who’s at least twice his size. That ends up in an absolute disaster in which milk is spilled all over the passports and plane tickets that are haphazardly left on the counter by all the food, rather than tucked away somewhere safe, ready to go for the morning.

Without hesitating – and after spilling a 2-liter of Pepsi all over the table -- Mr. McAllister grabs some napkins, wipes up the milk, and throws the sopping heap away. Only one thing – Kevin’s passport and plane ticket were in that heap too. Because who doesn't leave vital travel documents next to greasy food and soon-to-expire milk?

So after a storm just so happens to knock out the power at the McAllister household, chaos ensues in the morning as they try to make their flight at O’Hare. Heather, the oldest sister, mistakes Mitch Murphy’s backside as Kevin, and they rush off to the airport while Kevin's still sleeping on the third floor. (Side note: there’s no way you could fight holiday traffic from Winnetka to Rosemont, get through sketchy international security, check luggage and board a plane, all in 45 minutes. Unless it’s in a 90s movie, of course.)

Had Peter not thrown Kevin’s ticket in the trash, they would have at least realized at the gate that he was missing. (Another side note: Peter put the tickets in the microwave to dry them out. That’s not how that works, Mr. McAllister.)

It’s not just the family’s fault Kevin was left unattended for three days

Once they’re on their way to France, Kate finally realizes she left her own son all alone, although it takes her a minute or two to realize what was bugging her. But if it makes her feel any better, Uncle Frank – who was more concerned about stealing crystal champagne glasses – forgot his reading glasses, too.

They get to the Paris airport and immediately contact Winnetka police after hijacking a woman's payphone call. Upon hearing this woman’s child is home all alone, Rose the dispatcher is very unfazed. She glosses over the fact that poor little Kevin is unaccounted for across the pond and she transfers Kate to Sgt. Larry Balzak (also Mr. Heckles in “Friends") in the Family Crisis Intervention, who seems even less concerned.

"Has the child been involved in a violent altercation with a drunken and/or mentally ill family member of his immediate family?


"Has he been involved in a household accident?"

I don't know, I hope not.

“Has the child ingested any poison and/or any other object that has become lodged in his throat?”

No, he's just home alone, Sgt. Balzak! Go check on the poor kid.

“You want us to go to your house just to check on him?"


After pulling teeth, the McAllisters finally get police to go check on their son. But once they finally get there, the officer knocks on the door a few times, sees the lights are on, and assumes everything is fine and leaves the scene. Meanwhile, Kevin is scared for his life, hiding under the covers in his parents’ bed.

To be fair, Kevin might have reason not to answer the door, even for police, after a sketchy officer stood in his house for an extended period of time and none of the adults seemed to care.

The police don’t even bother to do a follow-up check at any point in the coming days. The McAllisters don’t bother to ask them to do so, either.

Once Kevin gets his wits about him the next day, he decides to go out into the world to get a few things, where he encounters even more incompetent adults. At the corner drug store, where he’s trying to buy a toothbrush, the clerk doesn’t know whether a toothbrush is up to standards with the American Dental Association. If you’re selling it, I sure hope it is.

And once he’s scared off by mean Old Man Marley, Kevin rushes out of the store, toothbrush in hand. She yells for Jimmy to “catch that boy!” But Jimmy simply watches him run out and yells “SHOPLIFTER!” The officer who chases him can’t keep up, wipes out on the ice rink – which Kevin gracefully glides all the way across – and lets him get away.

Later on, Kevin goes to buy groceries to feed himself. This cashier is the closest to being concerned that a kid is by himself in public. But then she gets creepy and asks Kevin where he lives. He wisely doesn’t tell her, and goes about his business.

Santa and his elf aren’t worried there’s a little boy wandering the streets. Santa’s got a little get-together he’s late for, though, so that’s good enough reason not to be concerned, right?

And Old Man Marley – who is in fact, not the South Bend Shovel Slayer, just a nice man with family problems – is a culprit as well. He encounters Kevin on multiple occasions and never thinks to alert police that he’s home alone. In fact, none of these adults think to do so.

The Wet Bandits

While Harry and Marv are the bad guys, and they really have responsibility for Kevin’s safety, they are wholly incompetent as well. Not only because they’re oblivious to all of Kevin’s traps, but also because they decide to keep falling for them, rather than bailing and getting the heck out of there.

Wouldn’t you look at the ground when you’re illegally climbing through a window? Wouldn’t you see a glowing, red-hot door knob? Wouldn’t you turn around and go the other way once your shoes and socks get ripped off on the tar-slathered steps, instead of stepping on a nail?

There were plenty of points they could’ve decided to cut their losses and take off. But then again, this is the Wet Bandits we’re talking about. The guys who ride around in a very distinct plumbing van, going house to house in the middle of the afternoon. The guys who flood each house they hit – granted, Harry does tell Marv it’s a bad idea.

But since we are talking about people who put Kevin in danger here, these guys deserve extra time in the clink because they willingly went back to a house where they knew a young child was by himself. That’s twisted.

And while we’re at it, can we talk about the fact that Marv didn’t think to call the police after he seemingly heard someone get blown away by a tommy gun? And the pizza boy never called the police after someone apparently tried to light him up with a machine gun! Yikes.

I'm not saying we should sympathize with two serial burglars or expect them to care about the safety of a kid, they just need to be held accountable for their incompetence.

It all works out in the end

All said and done, the little trout survives a couple days in the real world. Old Man Marley thanks him for the family advice by smacking Harry and Marv with a shovel (though he still didn't tell the police a young boy was home alone).

Kevin's family shows back up after ultimately going to great lengths to travel halfway across the globe and be with him on Christmas Day. 

Kevin manages to clean the entire house -- disposing of all bird feathers, broken ornaments, and Micro Machines and hiding all evidence that he set up a fiery death trap inside your standard neighborhood mansion -- in one night. Except the mess in Buzz's room. Woof.

Now, let's be clear. There were a whole lot of irresponsible adults that let Kevin down, but without them, we wouldn't have the impeccable 90s Christmas film we all know and love nearly two decades on.

Keep the change, ya filthy animals.