Hughes thought younger — and sillier — with his screenplay for 1990’s Home Alone, a farce about an 8-year-old accidentally left behind by his family over the holidays, who winds up defending his home from a pair of bumbling burglars.
There were hints of Hughes’ larger preoccupations (the forgotten suburban prepubescent trying to fend off the big bad world), but this coming-of-age comedy was primarily about a little boy (played by an adorable, pre–Michael Jackson Macaulay Culkin) arriving at the sober realization that he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Initially, though, he relishes the chance to play master of the house, and the film’s most enduring image is of this child going through the morning routine of a man. A quick shave, a splash of aftershave — and sheer agony. Adulthood isn’t as fun as it looks.