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Chris Columbus

'Home Alone' is the Charles' post-Christmas gift for kids, parents and hipsters

"Home Alone" premiered in 1990 and swiftly became the third-highest-grossing film up to that time. Leaning hard on the sensitive-brat charm of 8-year-old Macaulay Culkin, it convulsed family audiences — and some slapstick and cartoon fans, too — with its tale of a boy literally left behind in the Christmas rush when his family flies off to Paris without him.

My theory is that producer-writer John Hughes hired Chris Columbus to direct because of Columbus' script for Joe Dante's horror comedy, "Gremlins." Culkin's character, Kevin McCallister, is like the cuddly good gremlin and the spiky bad gremlin rolled into one. Indeed, the movie is at its liveliest when Kevin...