Home Alone analysis

Splitting from this thread:

A year later (and hopefully somewhat wiser), I watched this again and it’s quite obvious the OS is not in Situation. The story’s problems are present before Kevin gets stuck home alone: There’s family chaos, the Wet Bandits are already active, etc.

Rather, I think MC Kevin is in Situation (the root of it being an overlooked kid, which develops into being home alone).

Based on that I quickly threw together a storyform that looks pretty good, OS in Activity, Doing*, Experience, Determination and MC in Situation, Progress, Fact, Unproven. Dramatica outputted an MC Unique Ability of Security which sounds pretty darn perfect!

* The OS fits Doing better than Obtaining because: a) the Wet Bandits are not concerned with any particular score, just with the burgling itself, b) Kevin’s busy with protecting his home and living alone, c) the parents are concerned with parenting. Maybe the Goal of Home Alone is “protecting the family” which includes the family home. Or maybe it’s just spending Christmas together!

The Story Goal is a bit tricky. I think it’s “protecting the family” which includes protecting the family home and making sure Kevin is okay. But it might just be “spending Christmas as a family”.

The IC is definitely Old Man Marley; he’s the one with the Change resolve shown in the heartfelt scene in the end (though note like @jhull has mentioned, the moment of the IC’s Change is off-screen; we don’t see him actually call his son).

However, I believe there is some sharing of IC role between Old Man Marley and Kevin’s mom. The big hug at the end definitely felt like an RS resolution moment, as did their fight at the beginning.


How does the RS story for that work?

What role do the wet bandits play and what role does the family play? Are they two different groups of OS characters-one trying to get home and the other trying to get into the home-or is there something else going on there?

The RS story would be a growing relationship between a mother and son who don’t really appreciate each other at first.

The Wet Bandits are the Antagonists in that they’re working against the Story Goal of the family being able to spend a nice Christmas together. (The Wet Bandits would ruin that either by destroying the home, or by hurting Kevin. Note how Dramatica shows it’s important they be more than just regular burglars, since destroying the home is necessary to truly jeopardize the Story Goal.)

The family are OS characters but also play a part in the MC throughline by overlooking Kevin, and showing his growth when they appreciate how he was able to go grocery shopping for them.

I’m guessing the mom is the Protagonist, getting everyone to consider the need to go back for Kevin and pursuing him (“I’m not leaving this airport until I’m on a flight!”).

I had been wondering if there was some switch between Mom and the bandits for IC. I had forgotten about the old man so I’m trying to figure out how it might switch between him and the mom now.

I’m also looking at Doing and Obtaining. I was leaning toward Obtaining because the bandits talk about the McCallister’s house being the big one or whatever, and the mom is trying to reach home. Obtaining also has Attitude vs Approach. But I can see it being the Doing that is the specific source of problems as well. After all, it’s not going home that’s specifically problematic for the mom. It’s how she tries to get there.

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I love the idea of just re-analysing the same movie every Christmas. That’s a hell of a tradition! :joy:

Haven’t rewatched it just yet, so have nothing to contribute at the minute. I remember arguing pretty heavily for an OS in Situation last year (and also that Old Man Marley was some kind of IC character), so interested to see if that’s changed as my understanding of the theory has developed.

Anyway, like I said, I have nothing of note yet. But I will return just as soon as I’ve revisited!


Right. Also to me it just doesn’t feel like Obtaining. Like if the Wet Bandits hadn’t got caught in the end, just ran away bruised, tarred, and feathered with their pants down … it still would’ve been the same movie. What was important wasn’t catching them, but an eight-year-old showing he could stand up to them.

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I like Kevin in Universe/Situation
-he feels like a bit of an outcast within his own family. Everyone thinks he’s incompetent or picks on him
-he’s supposed to sleep in Fuller’s bed
-he gets left home alone.

Seems like Kevin looks at a lot of his problems as activities. Wonder if the PSR for Kevin’s throughline is in the Physics quads.

I’m still having problems figuring this one out. How do you see Progress and Fact for Kevin?

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Well, honestly I didn’t give that storyform a huge amount of thought so we can treat this like we’re just trying things out.

I liked Progress for Kevin because it seemed like his personal conflict came from “how things are going” within his family and with being home alone. He’s growing up but the rest of his family see him as a little kid, they don’t recognize his progress. The personal part of his conflict with being home alone, that wasn’t part of the OS, came from things getting progressively worse so that he wished for his family back.

For Fact, well, it’s a fact that he is only eight years old. His problems wouldn’t be problems if it weren’t for that fact! And you can sort of see Fact vs. Fantasy in his fanciful wish that his family disappear vs. the fact that they really are gone.

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Yeah, I guess all those scenes with him buying groceries and doing laundry are his attempt to be competent? I don’t think I ever really connected those scenes to a personal problem for him. Now that we’re talking about it, I can see Progress from not knowing how to pack a bag to buying ADA approved tooth brushes and grocery shopping, and his family makes a few comments about it when they get home. But that problem doesn’t come across particularly strong for me–not that it has to.

For Fact, I’m not disagreeing, but I’m trying to word it differently just so I can get a better idea of it. Kevin has a belief in something real, and that’s a problem because of X. Kevin believes he is not incompetent and this is a problem, when doing chores, he gets scared and accidentally shoplifts, his plastic bags break, etc. Does that sound right?

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I think Kevin’s Fact issues are more about that others believe he’s just a little kid, which is actually true.

Now, he’s more competent than most people think, but it’s hard for him to make people see that because it’s sort of hiding under the Fact of his being just a little kid.

EDIT: I really like your illustration of Progress, a way of showing his personal “goal” achieved.

I feel like it’s most similar to Pieces of April.

Wow, nice catch @HaroldLloyd. I haven’t seen Pieces of April but that does look like a pretty similar storyform. The only difference to my penciled-in one being that the Problem/Solution and Symptom/Response are flipped. But I wasn’t totally sure on that, and was hoping this thread might help piece that out for Home Alone. I felt like people were more driven by their problematic Determinations, but I could see an argument for Expectation too (and vice versa for the Solution).

Before we talk about that though, let’s see if anyone wants to discuss any “higher level” stuff like Domains, Concerns or Issues. @Gregolas or anyone else?

I think I’m good to sit back and see what you guys say for the moment. I assure you I will jump in with questions when I have them.

Edit: actually, how about a short rundown of OS class, concern, and issue before starting on problem. Just to see the whole thing together.

Always. I’ll dig out the movie when I get back into town tomorrow.

Okay. I’m actually looking again at Threat as MC Issue so let me know what you think of that. It certainly seems to fit his fear of the basement, of getting peed on by Fuller, etc. Also it would make Worry the IC Issue which would fit the mom and Old Man Marley better than Value.

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I can definitely feel Threat more than Fact. The furnace seems threatening, the old man seems threatening, the bandits represent a threat, there’s some security at the church (although I think I remember directors commentary saying they tried to make the church scenes a bit scary), there ends up being some security with the old man and his family when they get home. It makes more sense to me as a thematic issue for Kevin, but I have no idea what the answer is. The deepest problem I felt the movie had for Kevin was basically just dealing with being home alone and wanting his family back. i can see an argument for something outside of that, but I feel like I have to kind of stretch to get there.

Oh, also, there’s security in rigging up the house with booby traps. Almost forgot that part!

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If I think of his Throughline as (Class) being too young, (Concern) Progressing from Cant pack a bag to Taking care of himself-this includes shopping, booby trapping house, sledding down stairs, eating ice cream and watching rubbish, etc, then I finally start to see something that looks more in line with what I felt his issues were.

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Okay, I agree. Threat is much better for MC Issue. With this change we can still end up with Security as the MC Unique Ability which is perfect, plus as the Counterpoint it works great too.

And as I mentioned before, Worry is great for IC Issue. There’s the obvious mom worrying about her son home alone, and then there’s this:

No offense, but aren’t you a little old to be afraid?

You can be a little old for a lot of things. You’re never too old to be afraid.


My point is, you should call your son.

What if he won’t talk to me?

At least you’ll know. Then you could stop worrying about it. Then you won’t have to be afraid anymore.


Great! Also I noticed his personal difficulties include backtracking when he becomes afraid, devolving into a little kid again by running and hiding under the bed or screaming for mom. Throughout the film, as he fights to progress, he’s also fighting against the threat of devolving/backtracking into that little kid who can’t pack a bag, which would prove everyone right about him.

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Like it. What do you see his problem as?