By Tim Ballingall
The following is a conversation between Kevin and the creepy Irish pigeon lady:
… the man I loved fell out of love with me. That broke
my heart. And whenever the chance to be loved came
along again, I ran away from it. I stopped trusting people.
No offense, but that seems like sort of a dumb thing to do.
I was afraid of getting my heart broken again. You see,
sometimes you can trust a person. And then when things
are down, they forget about you.
Maybe they’re just too busy. Maybe they don’t forget about
you, but they forget to remember you. I don’t think people
mean to forget. I think it just happens. My grandfather says,
if my head wasn’t screwed on, I’d leave it on the school bus.
I’m just afraid if I do trust someone again I’ll get my heart
I understand that. I used to have this really nice pair of
rollerblades, and I was afraid if I wore them, I’d wreck them.
So I kept them in a box. And do you know what happened?
I outgrew them. I never wore ‘em once outside. I just wore
them in my room a couple times.
A person’s heart and a person’s feelings are very different
Well, they’re kinda the same thing. If you aren’t gonna
use your heart, then what’s the difference if it gets broken?
If you just keep it to yourself, maybe it’ll be like my
rollerblades. When you do decide to try it, it won’t be any good. You should take a chance. Got nothing to lose.”
[Indiscernible Irish dribble]
I think so. Your heart might still be broken, but it isn’t gone.
If it was gone, you wouldn’t be this nice.
Let’s unpack this dialogue one nonsensical line at a time. Pigeon Lady admits to keeping people at arm’s length because of her being emotionally hurt in the past. How this led to her being homeless escapes me.
Kevin then begins philosophizing like the John Hughes mouthpiece that he is. “Forgetting to remember”—this metacognitive paradox has been wrung dry by every hackneyed lyricist from the frontman of Mudvayne to Carrie Underwood.
Kevin analogizes Pigeon Lady’s heart to a pair of unused rollerblades. Pigeon Lady contests the analogy, deeming it an oversimplified comparison. But Kevin defends the analogy successfully. The first thing to take away from this conversation is that thinking in analogy on this level is highly unusual for someone Kevin’s age.
The second is that Kevin gravitates toward and befriends people on the fringe—scary, dirty, mysterious people that mirror his own sense of alienation.
Kevin doesn’t interact with a single kid his own age throughout the film. Psychologist Dr. Hare would say Kevin experiences difficulty making and keeping friends. In addition to his interactions being with all grownups, Kevin spends a lot of time alone.
The third scene at The Plaza depicts Kevin going to the indoor swimming pool. The other pool-goers, all adults, watch him stroll nonchalantly into the room, kick off his flip-flops, and lay his towel on the ground before doing a cannonball. One can easily imagine how awkward the scene would feel without Bobby Helms’ cheery Christmas classic, “Jingle Bell Rock” playing in the background.
Kevin also frequently talks to himself, not in clipped, stream-of-consciousness phrases, but in whole sentences—“My family’s in Florida and I’m in New York”; “This is great”; “Wow. A huge bed just for me”; “This is the greatest accident of my life.” While this is a trait more typically found in sociopaths, psychologists acknowledge overlap in classifications.
One might suggest that Kevin is from a big family, that he enjoys being alone as an escape from the craziness of his home life. But again, the intimidation of New York City and the solitude a kid would feel, all alone, or otherwise surrounded by grownups whom he is duping and must therefore always be on-guard around, would paralyze a ten-year old, regardless of his home life.
The entire second act of the film follows Kevin’s comfortable existence in this situation. How is that normal?
Kevin’s private life is largely of interest. Though any kid left alone would do things s/he is not allowed to do when a parent is around, Kevin’s unsupervised acting out is specific and goes beyond the norm. A ten-year old by himself in a hotel room might watch Skinamax. Kevin watches film noir.
Dark, violent, vulgar, sexual—film noir spanned the 1950s, inspired by German Expressionism, often comprising crime fiction plots; its influence can be seen in neo-noir films such as Se7en, Fargo, Memento, Training Day, and Sin City. That Kevin rents The Ventilator, Fly Bait, Muttville Massacre, and Angels With Even Filthier Souls—all metafilms—is curious and disturbing. Why the fascination with film noir?—with dark films about social deviants?
Because he himself is a social deviant. He knowingly commits credit fraud. He mouths the words “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal, and a happy new year” after having tricked the slapstick hotel staff and escaped arrest, grinning with self-content. This clearly reveals his emulation of film gangster behavior. …
Stay tuned for the third and final installment where we discover the truth behind Harry and Marv and answer the question, Who is Kevin McCallister?