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Picks and Pans Main: Screen

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Macaulay Culkin is a fine little actor. But what does it say about us—the movie-going audience—that in return for agreeing to do a sequel to Home Alone, he received a reported guarantee from producer John Hughes and Twentieth Century Fox of $4.5 million plus 5 percent of the film’s gross income? Are we all perceived as so mindlessly devoted to a 10-year-old performer whose role could have been played as well by dozens of children that we’d avoid the sequel if it starred another kid? Good for little Mac—he now has most of his Harvard tuition covered—but there’s something troubling about this business. Think of whoever is administering the law of supply and demand, explaining why a sum equal to the salaries of 150 or so teachers should be paid to a child for a few weeks’ work: “These audiences have no more critical faculties than your average mollusk, so we have to count on Pavlovian reactions. Show them similar title. Show them same kid. Bonanza, here we come again.”