A medical perspective on the injuries sustained by Home Alone's Wet Bandits

"Kevin has moved from 'defending his house' into sheer malice, in my opinion." And this is before Marv and Harry are even inside the house! An actual doctor looks at the cartoonish violence of 1990's Home Alone and offers a blow-by-blow diagnosis. (via The Week)


  1. “What was likely a simple second-degree skin burn is now a full thickness burn likely to cause necrosis of the calavarium (skull bone).” That means the skin and bone tissue on Harry’s skull will be so damaged and rotted that his skull bone is essentially dying and will likely require a transplant.” – Ewww.

  2. Hilarious. I love the combination of physics and medical analysis in this article. Even as a kid, I knew those guys were taking quite a pounding. I recently rewatched Home Alone 2, where Marv takes about half a dozen bricks to the forehead, thrown from the top of a three story building. He probably should have dropped dead from a bleeding brain right then and there.

  3. “By comparison, one second of contact with 155 degree water is enough to cause third degree burns.”

    That doesn’t seem right. I worked at Taco Bell years ago and definitely put my hand in water hotter than that for more than one second without burning myself.

      1. I’m struggling to recall my high-school physics, but I don’t think water CAN reach 155C except in a pressure cooker – since 100C* is the temperature at which it boils into steam.

        *at sea level, of course – YMMV. 

        1.  That’s kinda crazy, when a late night show goes to such lengths to be accurate, when the “news” does so much less. Oh Wait.

          I’m interested in the Oprah/Letterman interview.

  4. I remember getting Home Alone out on video for my kids and was actually horrified by the sheer malevolence and sadism of the kid in the movie. It’s like a kind of ‘Hostel’ for kids.
    Call me an old-fashioned reactionary (and I’m sure you’ll think of worse things to add to that too) but it struck me as a really morally questionable movie to have made for kids.

    1.  *See Looney Tunes, The three Stooges, almost every classic nursery rhyme or child’s song in the old fashioned days.

      1.  I agree with you but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. It might help (partly) explain why we live in a seemingly eternally violence-disposed culture.

        1. I know. I didn’t mean to insult you. I hate The Three Stooges. Just sayin’ that “yesterday” wasn’t so perfect either. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      2. One difference is that most kids instinctively know that a coyote wouldn’t really get flattened into an accordion-like shape if it were hit by a falling anvil. The paint-can-to-the-face gag looked real enough to seem plausible, thus more likely to be imitated.

        1. I know, dammit. But most kids today aren’t gonna do that shit either, even though it’s more “realistically” displayed in the film. At least I hope so.

          Plus I haven’t heard of anything remotely like this happening in the news.

        2.  Well, I don’t know about imitating it, but that’s why I couldn’t watch those movies as a kid- all the pain inflicted on them did look real (even if the effects were unrealistic) and not at all like watching looney-tunes, and so I just couldn’t stand to see that much pain inflicted on real people. It’s different than even the Three Stooges, which never involved burning someone’s face with a hot iron, or if it did, it was never anything I saw the few times I caught it in reruns.
          And thinking back to the movie again, it didn’t help that the kid comes across as a creepy little sadist who seems to really enjoy the chance to seriously injure someone.

    2. I was just coming on to comment similarly. I remember when this came out and it was a huge hit. I didn’t see it right away but when I caught it on video, I just couldn’t believe how this violence both to the child and by him was considered to be hilariously funny – and how many people had paid to watch it in the theaters and thought it knee slapping family fun. I enjoy slapstick but it just piled it on to the point where it went way beyond a pratfall or a funny clonk on the head. And the kid being left alone all weekend, to me, was such negligence and yet it was treated with humor. I know there are lots of kids books where kids are left alone or escape, but I felt like there was something off about the way this was all presented in the movie. It could have been funny I think, but I couldn’t get past it.

      1. It’s a plot device.  If the parents are home, there’s no movie.  This is the reason Harry Potter is an orphan.

        1. It’s a tragically overused plot device. In the Potterverse, wizards live to be about 150, but nobody has parents or grandparents unless the parents are plot devices that override the orphan plot device. Harry’s parents were 20 when he was born but he has no grandparents on either side.

          Same thing in LOTR. Almost every major mortal character has one or both parents who died tragically young.

        2. I get that, I really do, but for some reason, watching that movie, I had a hard time getting past it. I think in Harry Potter there is the plausibility of his parents loved him but died and his adopted parents didn’t love him very much. In Home Alone, we’re supposed to accept that his parents are good parents but somehow didn’t really notice that their 9 year old son wasn’t there for a whole weekend. Then they do finally come home and it’s all hugs and tears. WTF? Needed a more plausible setup in my book.

          1. Well, if we’re going to split hairs, they realised he was missing while they were on the plane, so it was only a span of a few hours. And they couldn’t get a hold of him because there was a big storm and the phone lines were down and all the flights were cancelled. That’s why his mom had to drive home in a van with John Candy and his polka band. It all makes perfect sense. :)

          2. Oh, yeah, riiiiiiight. That happened to me once, got to the airport and I was all like, whoopsie, where’s the kid and they were all like, move along lady. Could happen to anyone. Thank god for polka bands.

  5. As I understand it, ‘Stand Your Ground’ is applicable in public places, not within the privacy of your own residence.

    In your own home, I believe one generally has far greater authority to use lethal defense.

    Kevin correctly surmised that these two thieves had ultra-violent tendencies. As such, I don’t think he “moved from ‘defending his house’ into sheer malice” – at least not if he wants to avoid Joe Pesci biting off “every one of these little fingers, one at a time.”

  6. So basically Macaulay Culkin was playing the same role he did in The Good Son, just with wackier sound effects.

    1. Ah, so in Home Alone he found a morally-justifiable outlet for his sadistic streak, kind of like a young Dexter.

  7. Well, I for one loved both Home Alone and Home Alone 2 when I was a little kid, I saw them both in cinemas and many times outside of the cinema. I can’t wait to show my kids this movie in a few years.

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