Home Alone analysis

I’m going to assume you’re asking about the MC Problem (I wasn’t sure if you mean Kevin or Old Man Marley, and also wasn’t sure if you meant Problem element vs. just general description of problem).

Anyway, MC Problem is tricky. Looking under Threat I could sort of see any of Hunch, Determination, or Expectation as his Problem. Out of those, I’d probably pick Hunch simply because that would explain why Theory isn’t in the picture as much, being his “demotivator” that may not be shown much in this story.

So it sounds like we have the right quad at least…

To help the MC throughline, let’s go to the OS. Do you like Wisdom or Experience more as the OS Issue? I like Experience because it felt like familiarity and experience caused problems in this film. The McAllisters did what seasoned parents do and delegated to the oldest cousin (the one with the most experience), trusting her to handle counting the kids. The Wet Bandits being seasoned burglars made them think they had the McAllister house in the bag. The taller bandit insisted on leaving a “calling card” by leaving the water on, a way of gaining fame (familiarity), but this caused problems for them: at the end, the police department’s familiarity with the Wet Bandits’ mode of operation meant they could nail them for each and every house.

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Sorry, yes. I meant Mc problem.

I’ll have to switch gears to get into the OS territory. Could take some time, but maybe someone else will have something to add in the mean time.

Hunch would fit his whole winging it attitude.

Sorry for being slow @mlucas. But care to look at implied storypoints as we go? Right now that would be for class and concern. We’ve already done Universe and Progress, so would need to look at the other three. I’m not having an easy time seeing the four distinct throughlines.

Maybe this will help us see the distinct throughlines? Let me know what you think:

MC Throughline: A young boy labelled an incompetent troublemaker by his family strives to prove that he’s more grown up and capable than anyone gives him credit for.

OS Throughline: When a boy is mistakenly left home alone in a neighborhood rampant with holiday burglaries, protecting the boy and the family home become paramount.

IC Throughline: Two ICs, who influence through “fear and worry” (both Kevin’s and their own). 1. After punishing her little boy by making him sleep in a scary attic, a mother worries for his safety when he’s home alone–and worries also that she’s a bad parent. Meanwhile, the boy feels her absence keenly whenever he’s afraid. 2. A lonely, scary-looking old man wishes to be part of his granddaughter’s life but his stubborn fear of making up with his son holds him back.

RS Throughline: A mother and son, having difficulty relating to each other, realize how important they are to each other when they’re separated at Christmastime.


Okay, so here’s my slightly late contributions:

Last year, I think I argued strongly for an OS of Situation (Kid’s stuck in the house; Family stuck in Paris, etc.). Now, there’s no question in my mind that it’s an OS of Physics. Even the scenes of them chaotically preparing for their vacation are very clearly in Activities.

MC in Situation — no question about it.

Goal of Doing makes sense, but I’d say “Protecting the House”, because I think the Family stuff is mostly coming from the IC perspective — very heavy from Kevin’s Mom and Old Man Marley. The OS seems to be entirely about Kevin vs the robbers.

I wasn’t sure how the other throughlines fit with that, but you guys convinced me with the whole Progress/growing up angle. I’m still not 100% sold on the IC Concern of Impulsive Responses, but I can live with it because the rest fits pretty well.

Haven’t thought about anything below the Concern level just yet, but a quick glance tells me that I like the Threat quad more than Fact.


@mlucas, thanks. That’s super helpful.
And @jhay, you mentioned some of things I’m having trouble with ( mentioning family as being more IC than OS, I’m still struggling with what is OS and what isn’t) so that’s good news. I’m not the only one seeing what I’m seeing! Thanks for chipping in.


I definitely agree, though I think the family rushing home to protect Kevin & the house is partly the OS as well. But you’re right, the dad and the rest of the family don’t seem that concerned about Kevin. And notice that my OS summary above didn’t mention any family stuff … so I think we’re all on the same page!

This is where it’s all about the influence on Kevin. It’s not the deep, innermost desires, dread-type fear that’s influencing Kevin but rather the impulse to run and hide under the bed and call for mommy. Mom’s absence and Old Man Marley’s seemingly scary nature both influence him this way.

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Ah, that makes perfect sense! For some reason, I hadn’t even stopped to think about Kevin’s response to the Old Man. That’s a total Impulsive Responses moment! Okay, I’m 100% onboard with the upper-right quadrants.

Yeah, I think we’re definitely all on the same page here. :smile:


I’m not home yet to check out the movie, but experience has been mentioned earlier, so couldn’t it also be inexperience on the boy’s part? He didn’t run or sneak out the back door to try to get the police and the neighbors. He was inexperienced and felt he had to do it himself.


Is “Kevin vs the Wet Bandits” more in the OS (which would show Doing as a problem) or in MC (showing Kevin’s problem with Progress)? If OS, I can see Kevin’s lack of Experience in being home alone or in charge of himself vs his Skill in protecting the house.

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Aspects of it are in both throughlines, I’d say. Storyweaving in action! The same is true in Star Wars, The Matrix, etc.

I like your Experience vs. Skill illustration for Overall Story.

EDIT: to clarify, Kevin vs. the Wet Bandits is probably mostly in the OS. If you centre in on Kevin’s personal issues about being considered incompetent and needing to progress beyond that, you can see how part of his battle with the Wet Bandits fits within that MC Throughline.

EDIT 2: Sorry @Prish, forgot to mention that your “inexperience” illustration is awesome!

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I’m also leaning toward Experience because I like the elements beneath, but I want to play devil’s advocate for a moment and discuss Wisdom as the issue – if only to challenge myself. Perhaps it will raise some interesting questions, maybe it will just reinforce my bias of Experience. Who knows?

The characters are almost unanimously unwise: you have the burglars who continually fail against this genius, slightly sociopathic child that is VERY wise on how to protect himself; you have a kid that is lacking, but slowly developing, the wisdom needed to live a life home alone; you have the family that fail to realise they’re missing a member because they trust in a flawed counting system.

I still think I’m more in the ‘Experience’ camp, but it’s a possibility.

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Good points. I agree with you – Wisdom is a decent candidate, and hard to eliminate just by comparing it to Experience.

One thing I’ve learned from doing group online analyses, and watching the users group YouTube videos, is that its often best to tackle the Issue and Problem quad together, because it’s hard to see the Issue by itself sometimes. I think part of the reason for that is that the entire Variation quad that the Issue resides in will usually show up in the story. You’ve got the Counterpoint of course, but if you look at the Dramatica book it goes into how the Issue is compared against all the other members of its quad.

Believe it or not, we’re down to only 4 possible storyforms (assuming Linear and Optionlock, though maybe you could make a case for Christmas being the Timelock, but it didn’t seem like a “drop dead” date; and also assuming everyone’s on board with Kevin being Steadfast, of course). Besides the obvious choice of OS Problem quad, what can affect the OS Issue are:

  • The RS Issue - Knowledge vs. Desire
  • The MC Problem/Solution vs. MC Symptom/Response (Hunch/Theory vs. Determination/Expectation)
  • Which quad the IC Problem is in (Accurate/Non-Accurate/Result/Process vs. Proven/Unproven/Effect/Cause)
  • Which quad the RS problem is in (Trust/Test/Expectation/Determination vs. Theory/Hunch/Ending/Unending)

Any thoughts on any of those?

One thing we didn’t go into yet was the Relationship Story Concern of Being (Playing a Role).

To me, this is where you find all the stuff about behaving and fulfilling one’s role within the mother/son relationship. There is conflict around their roles and how they fulfill those expectations (punishing each other vs. wishing the other would behave better or would stick up for you, that kind of thing). I think the relationship “goal” would be something like, remembering how much they love each other and aligning their roles and behaviour toward each other based on that love.

I think the RS is where Kevin’s wish for his family to disappear resides, along with his going to Santa to wish for them to come back.

With that description, I have a preference for Desire as the RS Issue, since it feels like the relationship wants something better to exist between them, a better way of behaving toward each other, and that’s a source of conflict within the relationship. But, I could certainly be persuaded to consider Knowledge as well.

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I’ve been trying to think about the RS, since Kevin and Kate are separated for pretty much the whole movie (and Old Man Marley has such a small part). When they’re on-screen together, I can definitely see the whole ‘fulfilling expectations’ thing. I had initially considered the RS concern to be about them trying to be okay with their temporary separation (which also includes Marley), but I don’t think enough time is given to that angle. It definitely feels more like fulfilling the expectations of a parent/child relationship, which also brings Marley back into that RS throughline.

I was thinking Desire, too. Kevin’s wish for his family to disappear; Kate’s desperation to get back home for her son; Old Man Marley’s desire to reunite with his son/meet his granddaughter. I don’t have an argument for Knowledge to hand, but I’m open to new ideas.

Also, it’s 100% an Optionlock. No question.

The Steadfast thing I waver back and forth on. Largely, I agree. He doesn’t really change his tactics or anything, and obviously, Marley reunites with his child. But at the beginning of the movie, Kevin clearly wants his family gone. And by the end, he wants them back. Does that not count as a change of resolve? It doesn’t feel Steadfast, necessarily.

Yes. I’d say the options are the various entrances to the house for Kevin, the various flights and modes of transportation for the mom.

Is that his Growth instead of his Resolve?

Okay, this part is really important. The real question is, what is Kevin’s perspective or worldview that comes from his personal issues?

One possibility is the view I’ve been espousing. Everyone treats Kevin like an incompetent little kid, but Kevin feels he’s much more competent than people give him credit for. No one gives him a chance to show that he’s actually pretty smart. It’s not his fault no one’s ever told him how to pack a suitcase.
In this view, wishing his family would disappear isn’t his perspective per se, it’s more of a reaction he has to how people treat him. I was even thinking it might fit in the IC throughline, an Impulsive Response to his mom’s harsh treatment of him. Even look at the way the dialogue goes:

KEVIN: I’m sorry.
KATE: It’s too late. Get upstairs. (Kevin walks up stairs and stops)
KEVIN: Everyone in this family hates me.
KATE: Then maybe you should ask Santa for a new family.
KEVIN: I don’t want a new family. I don’t want any family. Families suck!

He starts off with “everyone in this family hates me” not the other way around, and only gets the idea of wishing his family away when his mom suggests it.

The other possibility is that his perspective includes hating his family, I guess because of how they treat him. However, I have trouble seeing that he hated his family from the beginning, before they ganged up on him.

Also, if Kevin Changed from hating his family to wanting them back, that means he was influenced by the IC toward that change. But to me it doesn’t seem like it was the mom, or even anyone else in the movie, that influenced him to want his family back. Maybe the mom’s (or entire family’s) absence could have influenced it? I don’t know. To me, it seems like Kevin “grew up” over the course of the film, and grew into wanting his family back – MC Growth, like @Gregolas suggests.


Hm. Maybe. I might check out the first act again in the morning and see how its presented at the beginning of the movie, but I’m pretty confident that you’re right. Wishing for the family to disappear is also leaning into a strong Fixed Attitude and he is definitely NOT a Be-er, so I think you’re on the right track with the first possibility.

I think I’m just here to challenge your ideas, @mlucas! Oh, my God. I’m your Influence Character! :wink: