I have a strange and probably incorrect memory of the first time I saw Home Alone. I remember it being Thanksgiving and my parents being excited to show me something, they asked me if I had ever seen it before, describing it as a movie where a boy’s parents leave him by himself (makes sense). For some reason my little child brain could only think of Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, so yeah I imagined Home Alone would be Ace Ventura for some strange reason.
Since then I’ve watched it just about every year and it’s become a tradition to watch it on Thanksgiving night as everything winds down as a way to welcome in the Christmas season.
This week the movie turns 25 years old and in celebration of this, I decided to rank my favorite Kevin McCallister booby traps. Kevin has always been an inspiration to me, what kid does not dream of having the agency to survive on one’s own and also fend off two fairly successful burglars (no wonder we have such hero complexes…)? Kevin showcases a brilliant mind and his booby traps are clever and incredible in the way he forces Marv and Harry to bend to his will.
Feel free to comment with your favorites below.
11. Door handle – Kevin places some sort of heating device on the door handle, so that when they grab it it will burn their hands. This booby trap is way too straight forward, just a simple pain causing device.
10. Zipline – While Kevin choosing to end his plan with a long zip-line ride from the house to the tree house is inspiring, the plan to wait for them to climb out onto the line and then cut it feels ill-advised. It does spark some humor, but the act seems to only help Marv and Harry get closer to Kevin than further away.
9. Christmas Ornaments – Altogether kind of boring, Kevin’s ability to predict Harry and Marv’s behavior is always incredible, but placing Christmas ornaments next to the window seal lacks that typical McCallister charm.
8. Trip Wire – Kevin places a line of rope low to the ground and gets Harry to trip on it while running after him. The only ingenious part about this is that it actually was successful.
7. Sticky + Feathers – Again Kevin’s foresight pays off brilliantly, getting Harry to run into some sort of sticky paper, which in itself is somewhat funny, but he pays it off by shooting feathers into his face. It’s a classic cartoon bit, one that Kevin employs simply to mess with the robbers as it has no real practical robbery prevention capabilities whatsoever.
6. Torch in the door – This trap that causes fire to blow onto the face of the person who enters it is a little too dangerous to be all that funny, but the fact that Kevin was able to rig up a machine that causes fire to blow onto the face of the person who enters it downright brilliant.
5. Tar + Nail – The stickiness of the stairway and the nail should not work. Most times it probably wouldn’t if we’re being honest, but here the tarred up stairs cause Marv to strip off his shoes and socks and in probably the most cringe-inducing moment of the entire movie, Marv steps unknowingly onto a nail.
4. Toy Cars – I do have quite the bias here, as a kid I would frequently put cars around the house hoping that people would slip on them just like Marv and Harry did. It was a pretty jerk move, but anytime you can be more like Kevin McCallister you’re gonna do it right?
3. Paint Cans – This is the most iconic booby trap in the whole film, probably because this idea came completely out of nowhere. Who had ever thought of attaching paint cans to a string and then throwing them down onto people trying to walk up them? It lands where it does because though it is really cool, it is just so impractical. Anyone could dodge those right?
2. The Iron – Kevin puts a false light pull chain in place that, instead of having lights connected to it, has an iron that falls down onto the unsuspecting light desiree below. Marv pulls on the chain, waits a few seconds in confusion before looking up to see an iron falling toward him. The brilliance of this is of course amplified by Marv’s face having the perfect imprint of an iron for the following scenes.
1. Icy Stairs – I may love this booby trap because I’ve never lived in an area with a true winter, but the moment I saw that by simply throwing water onto an outside area, you could cause chaos for hours to come I was blown away. Not to mention such a simple act works brilliantly–it takes Harry like an hour to get up a 5-stair stairway. I also tried this one a few times during the winter, but unfortunately it never worked. Nevertheless, Kevin’s plan to make the stairs too icy for the criminals to get up is my favorite booby trap of the holiday classic.