Home Alone: Family Fun Edition

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills

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Just some thoughts on this newly-released edition of the classic holiday caper, released just this past Tuesday....while Fox did not go back to the vault and make any changes to the visual and audio elements (or so it seems), there is the addition of a nice slipcase and some heartfelt extras for those fans of the title who reach a bit above and beyond the "everyday enthusiast" who revisits this title each Christmas season. There is a commentary track by director Chris Columbus (no, no pun intended, nor am I kidding) and Culkin himself.

The 1:85:1 anamorphic transfer is clean in every sense of the word -- and I mean "clean;" there is a brief moment of grain, from what I recall, and the remainder of the print is free of any distracting blemishes. The biggest complaint with this widescreen presentation has to be the softness the picture exhibits -- it is quite soft, and fleshtones are on the "pinkish" side, for lack of a better descriptive outlet...and so while clean, the transfer on this single-sided dual layer disc from Fox is soft and fails to render colors that really leap off the screen and cause retina burning -- of course, this is a holiday season comedy from 1990, so what can be expected is pretty much here. Still, it is nice to have this title in such a clean presentation, free of broadcast TV static noise or the murkyness of a VHS tape (although admittingly, the VHS version looked pretty impressive).

The audio, rendered in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track or Dolby 2.0 (English) via Dolby Surround, was about in the same leauge as the video transfer. Surrounds, on the 5.1 track which I auditioned, were surprisingly active and called attention to themselves considering the source material, yet were no way aggressive or immersive in an extreme sense. The surround channels were used in a very subtle fashion -- the gentle presence of ambient noise of an airport during Christmas, the traffic on a snowy Chicago street, etc.; where the track kicked in quite aggressively was during a few sequences where airplanes were taking off and the deafening roar of the engines went straight into my surrounds and LOUDLY.....very impressive for such a title, considering the age as well. Also noteworthy was a sequence where Caulkin is sitting in a church during midnight mass (I believe, I could be mistaken) and the bass from the organs in the church was extremely deep and rattled my walls; now, of course, this is not Jurassic Park or Haunting levels of LFE, but the effect was extremely attention-grabbing and made me sit up and take notice -- very impressive. The biggest problem with the Dolby 5.1 mix? Dialogue seemed unnaturally low and difficult to make out, as if the actors had screens over their mouths, and then suddenly when action or score accompanied a scene, the audio would become blaringly attentive -- at the EXACT same volume levels. So dialogue clarity was the only real issue here.

Recommended for fans of the title.
 

Andrew Radke

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Thanks for your review of the DVD. I fully intend on getting this one. As I said in another thread a few months back, I'm disappointed that "Home Alone 2: Lost In New York" didn't get special treatment this year. I find the sequel much funnier than the original. Oh well, maybe next year. In the meantime I'll definitely purchase this. I never did get the original non-anamorphic version.
 

ScottR

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I purchased this tonight. I glanced at some scenes and the video quality is wonderful!
 

Colin Jacobson

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What in the world are you talking about? The old DVD was non-anamorphic with Dolby 2.0. The new one looks radically better than that terrible old transfer. How can you state that Fox did nothing to improve the picture and audio?
 

cafink

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I don't see where Nick said anything about a previous DVD release of the title. The new "Family Fun" edition is, as he suggests, a basic transfer from the original video elements, with nothing to suggest that any particular restorative work went into it.
 

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills

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Thanks Carl and everyone else for the replies on the Home Alone review! And thank you Carl for taking this above stance for me; indeed, let me state for the record that I had never seen Fox's previous release of this title, so I did not know that the original was merely in Dolby 2.0 and was non-anamprphic; on the packaging of this Family Fun Edition does not indicate ANYWHERE that this was re-released in anamorphic video nor does it state that Fox added a 5.1 track.

Sorry if I "didn't know what in the world I was talking about."
 

Ron Reda

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I too picked this title up last week. For years, I held out on buying the non-anamorphic version in hopes that Fox would wsie up and release a proper DVD. Well, they finally did...and just in time for pre-Christmas viewing! This is one of my favorite Christmas movies.
 

Dave H

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Sorry, I can't agree any VHS presentation looks "pretty impressive." But, to each his own.

I do plan on picking up the Family Fun Edition to replace my current non-anamorphic version (which I just sold). I think it's on sale at Circuit City for $9.99 next week.
 

Mathew B

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How are the extras apart from the commentary? Anything notable in the Deleted Scenes?
 

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills

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Thanks for your thoughts, Ron! While this was a pick from my better half for HER actual want list elimination intentions, it was enjoyable for this season. As I pointed out in a post above, I was not even aware that Fox had released a non-anamorphic version of this title...it is indicated nowhere on the packaging that this was "finally enhanced for 16X9 screens" or some such rhetoric; at any rate, the quality is good for the age of the material and subject matter.

Thanks again for reading and enjoy!
 

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills

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"Sorry, I can't agree any VHS presentation looks "pretty impressive." But, to each his own."

Hello Dave.....while I agree with what you are saying here regarding "any VHS presentation," what I really meant was that the Home Alone VHS version was pretty decent looking....FOR a VHS version...

"I do plan on picking up the Family Fun Edition to replace my current non-anamorphic version (which I just sold). I think it's on sale at Circuit City for $9.99 next week."

Indeed it may be; we picked it up at Circuit City for $12 on release day (last Tuesday); I also picked up CHRISTMAS VACATION -- probably the best example of this holiday's entertainment save for perhaps A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, etc. -- for $9.99 which is a steal for this great title....but, Warner REALLY needs to clean the video and audio up on this disc (Christmas Vacation that is)...the washed-out, grainy image is too marred and the Surround Stereo track leaves a lot to be desired.

Thanks for your thoughts!
 

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills

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Matthew,

That is a good question and I wish I had the answer; I did not get a chance to overview the extras on the disc yet. Should do it shortly however, as the little lady wants to see them in the worst way; just been so busy with Thanksgiving, holidays, etc. If I get a chance to post my thoughts about the extras on this Family Fun Edition, I will sure do it.
 

Colin Jacobson

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I thought this statement implied that the two DVDs offered the same transfer:

"while Fox did not go back to the vault and make any changes to the visual and audio elements (or so it seems)"

No, it doesn't explicitly say it's the same transfer, I think that's how the statement sounds...
 

Mathew B

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Judging from Colin's review, the commentary is one the major reasons to get this disc. It sounds like fun - which has become a rare thing in the days of "this guy used to be my college roomate and he's grrrreat!" commentaries.
 

Colin Jacobson

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It is indeed a pretty good track, but the main reason to get the DVD - if you're a fan, of course - is because it offers a vastly improved presentation of the movie...
 

Matthew Clayton

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I know it seems nitpicky, but does this new edition of "Home Alone" include a chapter insert (and not a promotional insert with a proof of purchase tab on it)?
 

ScottR

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It does include a chapter insert, that actually has some interesting production notes inside, similar to the new Miracle on 34th Street release.
 

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills

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And I cleared that confusion up by re-stating that my initial review of this "Family Fun" edition was without the knowledge that Fox first put out a cut that was not anamorphic and did not have 5.1 audio....as I stated, I was not a fan of this title, and it was not labeled anywhere on the slipcase that there was a new video or audio element introduced here.
 

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills

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....and I can second Colin on this one, in that the transfer looks pretty swell, save for, as I noted, a "softness" about the image and some "pinkish" skintones -- minimal complaints for a title of this vintage; the 5.1 track was pretty active as well, as I noted. Listen for the jet engines roar into the surrounds and the scene where Caulkin is in the church and the organs are belching out some wallops of smooth LFE.....
 

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