Festive Film Face-Off | Love Actually v. Home Alone

By Desta Cullen
15th Dec 2015

home alone, love actually, movie, christmas movies, christmas film

Hooray for festive season! It's that magical time of the year where we waste all of our time, bandwidth and Internet download quota to watch every Christmas movie imaginable because... Christmas! There are about a thousand films we could pit against each other because the filmaking gods just keep bestowing us with movie after movie to fill our unquenchable thirst for silverscreen cheer. But, true aficianados will concur, there are truly only two real contenders: Love Actually and Home Alone. Because we love a good clean fight, we pitted two Listers against each other to argue the virtues of our two fave Christmas movie heavyweights.

Why Love Actually, Actually Is The Best

Argued by Desta Cullen

Look, I wanted to keep things highbrow; an intellectual yet light hearted debate about the pros of a Christmas movie, which in the face of thousands of detractors, is still (and I'm putting it mildly here) THE BEST EVER. 

But when Love Actually's status as THE BEST EVER is called into question by the likes of a contender so inadequate as Home Alone, well, the gentlewoman's rules no longer apply. This means war. And not the immature nerf gun, cream pie style war that Kevin McCallister waged against The Wet Bandits—hands down the most useless boogey men, who really beat themselves by being such dunces—a quarter of a century ago. This is dirty, adult-to-adult war. With swear words and stuff. No PG sh*t here. 

Because if you want to beat a modern classic like Love Actually, you actually have to choose a film that stands up to its complex, unflinching, and so-real-it-hurts portrayal of L.O.V.E. Sorry Macauley, you're cute—sadistic, let’s be honest—mad cap mischief just doesn’t cut it, buddy.   

The Home Alone team will try to argue its supremacy on the basis of its nostalgia—which it has got plenty of—but I would counter that its overarching themes of abandonment and Yuletide-Bear-Grylls-survival, anchor Home Alone firmly in the thriller/horror genre camp. The Christmas nightmare is only exacerbated by the ever-present twinkling lights, the eerily empty and perfectly decorated house, the relentless carols, and of course the ultra seedy, very creepy men launching their assault on a young boy.   

John Hughes may be responsible for some of the most seminal pieces of ‘80s cinema (Pretty in Pink and Breakfast Club) but by the time 1990 rolled around, he was clearly high on his own fame, and drunk on the spiked egg nog they were serving at Hollywood Christmas parties. Because clearly someone was drunk.

Even if you aren’t a fan of Blackadder (what’s wrong with you?), you have to admit that Richard Curtis’ deft directorial hand is genius. An ensemble cast of dreams can only get you so far; it takes a master to wrangle nine intersecting plot lines to create a seamless story arc with multiple subplots, all as entertaining as the next. Bill Nighy is egotistical celeb perfection, Andrew Lincoln (aka The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes) is doing his best to kill off his unrequited-love zombies, and Liam Neeson’s wife was taken much too soon. How can you say no to Hugh Grant’s foppish, slightly wet charms, or Colin Firth’s ugly-Christmas-jumpered, culturally-clunky advances? You just can’t. It’s the perfect encapsulation of life in all its glorious messiness, with a carol or two thrown in for good measure.     

Sure, there’s the somewhat awkward issue of all of the featured relationships being pretty darn dysfunctional, based mostly on physical attraction and the world's most lecherous president played by Billy Bob Thornton, but life’s kind of awkward itself isn’t it? Which is exactly the anti-perfection fable Love Actually is putting forward in its witty, warts-and-all way; you can have your Christmas cake but if you want to eat it too, then get ready because it’s going to be filled with all of the shit fruit.

Home Alone Is The Best Christmas Movie Ever, So Shut Up

Argued by Kim Barnard

Ok, guys, let’s be real. There is no argument that Love Actually is a great Christmas movie. Excellent, in fact. One of the best ever. Unfortunately for my curly haired opponent though, that’s not what we’re arguing here. We’re looking for the BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER. And you just can’t go past Home Alone.

For the sake of simplicity and in the spirit of cutting to the chase, I’ve done some hefty and extensive (*cough*) critical analysis to determine the key factors that prove that Home Alone is the ultimate Christmas movie and, furthermore, that it is superior to Love Actually in almost* every way.

So, without further ado, let’s put this puppy to bed.

6 indisputable reasons why Home Alone is a better Christmas movie than Love Actually (and the best Christmas movie of all time, actually).

#1. Kevin McCallister is the perfect Christmas hero.

An irresistible combo of cute, cheeky, and clever (MICHAEL JORDON ON THE TRAIN, ANYONE?!), Kevin is the ultimate leading man. Every movie needs one (ONE, not 20) person to root for and, in Kevin, we have the ultimate beacon of Christmas spirit, ingenuity, bravery, and generosity, all bundled up in a cute little 8-year-old package.

#2 The McCallisters are the best family ever.

Belligerent uncles, bullying siblings, and a bed wetter—the McCallisters really represent the ultimate family getting together on Christmas. And it’s precisely the fact that they’re all kind of the worst that makes them, actually (HA), the best. In contrast, the families in Love Actually are legit the worst. Filled with cheaters, idiots, or just basically non existent, it certainly isn’t selling the importance of family on Christmas, and that’s something I just can’t cop.

#3 The music rules.

From Kevin crooning away to White Christmas in his bath towel, to the excellent addition of Tom Petty’s Christmas All Over Again, Home Alone nails the festive tunes, hard. Sure, Love Actually does pretty well in this department too, but there’s just something about Kevin singing to Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree that just can’t be beat.

#4 John Candy is in it!

I don’t have the word count here to go into the plethora of reasons why John Candy was the best, so I’m just going to assume we’re all on the same page and can appreciate the genius that was the big JC. His presence in Home Alone, as the “Polka King Of The Mid West” is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming and the mere absence of his presence in Love Actually delivers a blow that is impossible to recover from.

#5 The physical comedy is top notch.

One thing Love Actually is seriously lacking, in my opinion, is booby traps and slapstick. What’s a Christmas movie without an iron in the face or someone walking barefoot on Christmas ornaments? It’s just not right.

#6 Sooo many one liners.

Nothing makes a movie a classic more than a host of quotables that never get old, and on this front, Home Alone has Love Actually well and truly beat. Now, before you go getting on your high horse and quoting ‘AND HE’S GOT A BIG KNOOOOBBBB’, just remember that we’re talking quantity AND quality here. That being said, I’ll just leave these here as my closing argument…

“Buzz, you’re girlfriend… WOOF.”

“Keep the change, ya filthy animal!”

“You know, Kevin, you're what the French call, ‘les incompetents’.”

“Kevin, you are SUCH a disease!”

“I wouldn't let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass.”

“Look what you did, you little jerk.”

“I'm over here you big horse's ass, come and get me before I call the police.”

“Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?”

“A lovely cheese pizza, just for me.”


*Insert a floppy haired English Adonis (a la Hugh Grant) into Home Alone and you’ve got yourself a world beater.

Image credit: Reelz.com

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