Harry and Marv Should’ve Died in “Home Alone”

We investigate their many grisly injuries, and the shoddy morality of Kevin

A pixelated graphic of Kevin McCallister from "Home Alone."
"Oh no" is right. You took it too far, Kev.
SEGA of America

It’s been 30 years since the Wet Bandits made the incomprehensible decision to go another 12 rounds with Kevin McCallister, in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. In a recent interview with People, reflecting on his experience filming the beloved sequel (which reeled in $359 million at the box office), Joe Pesci shared for the first time that one of his stunts while playing Harry resulted in an IRL injury.

“In addition to the expected bumps, bruises, and general pains that you would associate with that particular type of physical humor, I did sustain serious burns to the top of my head during the scene where Harry’s hat is set on fire,” he said. “[But] I was fortunate enough to have professional stuntmen do the real heavy stunts.”

Pesci healed up okay, and like his counterpart, Daniel Stern (the peerless “Marv”), was paid handsomely for his slapstick efforts. But we’re left to wonder what became of the burned appendages and battered craniums of the the fictional duo, who arguably endured one of the most sadistic beatings in history…twice…at the hands of a supposedly self-defensive fourth grader.

Here’s the thing — Harry and Marv could’ve died. They should’ve died. In case you’re in need of an refresher, consider this incomplete list of injuries suffered by the dense duo:

  • BB shots and nail guns to the groin
  • Crowbars and tool kits to the torso
  • Bricks and paint cans to the head
  • Blowtorch to the scalp
  • Nonstop falls down staircases, from roofs, etc.
  • Full-scale electrocution

We’re talking broken ribs, blowout fractures around the eye socket, burns so severe the skin will start rotting before Harry even has a chance to drench it into Chicago snow. Paralysis is on the table, and so is certain death, but as the duo somehow managed to survive, we can expect they lived out the rest of their days with a crippling combination of CTE and PTSD.

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A closer investigation of the house of horrors Kevin unleashed multiple times on Harry and Marv reveals two core truths:

  1. Kevin is a bad kid
  2. Harry and Marv are two of the most resilient characters in 20th-century cinema

We want to like Kevin. We’re supposed to. He’s hilarious; he’s prone to moments of repose; he has a knack for befriending forgotten loners; his monologues are legendary; and he always learns his familial lesson in the end. But he’s also a deeply disturbed young man, with an alarming command of both physics and physical torture.

Keep in mind that, at first, Harry and Marv have no intention of harming anyone. They’re old school, blue-collar robbers, simply looking for a little loot around the holidays. They don’t latch onto Kevin’s house because they’re hoping a child gets caught in the crossfire; they want it because it’s “the biggest house in the neighborhood.” To Harry, Kevin’s presence there is effectively immaterial; in theory, it should still be an easy target.

Instead, as Kevin systematically dismantles the bodies and spirits of his home’s trespassers, their endgame shifts. At any point, Harry and Marv could’ve stuffed some expensive silverware in their pockets and fled. But the cruelty with which he harms the pair (and embarrasses them…sometimes coating them in feathers or flour, apparently just for an extra laugh) rattles them into a murderous rage.

Can we blame Harry and Marv for wanting to kill Kevin? Of course not; after all, he could’ve easily killed them. If anything, we should be applauding these men for their dogged determination in the face of Kevin’s ferocious attacks. Not even David Goggins could’ve kept running up that icy staircase after suffering so much.

It takes a well-timed hit from a Sears shovel (swung by Old Man Marley) for Harry and Marv to finally go down. This ending required a suspension of disbelief from the disbelief that’s already been suspended — Harry and Marv can take a barrage of sledgehammers to the head, but pass out after one hit from a salty spade? In the sequel, director Christopher Columbus covers his tracks on this point with a Promethean ending: Harry and Marv are doused in birdseed and ripped to shreds by a pride of peacocks.

Kevin certainly succeeded in defending his home. There’s little doubt about that. But at what cost to the skulls of Harry and Marv? And at what cost to his very soul?

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