For around the last two or three years now, I’ve seen a meme circulating the Internet during the Christmas season, accusing Kevin McCallister, the protagonist of Home Alone, of hunting Harry and Marv like a childish version of “the most dangerous game.”

The meme goes like this: “Remember, Kevin McCallister could have phoned the police at any time. He was a child who had accidentally been left alone. One call and he would have been safe. But it was never about safety. He was hunting those men. He wanted them to die. It was fun for him. He enjoyed it.”

Anyone who has seen Home Alone knows that’s patently untrue — the 1990 Home Alone is an exercise in the merits of the Castle Doctrine. Little Kevin was merely trying to defend his home; while a Remington 870 surely would’ve kept bungling burglars Harry (Joe Pesci, fresh off his run in some of Martin Scorcese’s greatest films) and Marv (Daniel Stern, in that three-year window in the 1990s where he was culturally relevant) at bay, it would’ve taken John Hughes’ whimsical yuletide romp into a decidedly darker direction.

And more importantly, it would’ve cut the run time down from nearly two hours to roughly 45 minutes — Harry and Marv barge in on a daytime burglary and take a face full of buck shot; roll the credits.

Home Alone 2 is a completely different story. By the time Kevin McCallister baits Harry and Marv into his house of horrors (his uncle’s upper East Side Brownstone under renovation, further reinforcing how bourgeois the McCallister clan truly is), he knows he is being sought by the police for credit card fraud.

A few years older and wiser, he knows his parents are searching for him — after all, his mother spent a day in the back of a box truck with John Candy in order to get her son in the first movie.

All it takes is flagging down a NYPD beat cop and the nightmare ends — he has evidence in the form of recording detailing Harry and Marv’s plan. Heck, Harry and Marv are prison escapees — the police need no probable cause of a burglary at Duncan’s jewelry store to effect an arrest on the pair.

No, Kevin instead seeks these two men out, rigging up a sequence of deadly traps that would literally kill or permanently maim these crooks.

In 1992, when Home Alone 2 was released on the big screen, Quentin Tarantino’s freshman hit Reservoir Dogs was released months prior. While I don’t see Mr. Tarantino’s name in the credits of Home Alone 2, the penchant for not only violence, but ultra violence is evident in Home Alone 2.

Did John Hughes and company watch Reservoir Dogs and realize American audiences were thirsty for cinematic sadism? I don’t know — but the thought is fun to entertain.

Look at the traps in Home Alone — the two slip on ice, Marv takes a nail through his foot and Harry gets his head set on fire. With the exception of the infamous paint cans down the stairs and cutting the rope while the two crooks are climbing across to the tree house, none of the traps would likely kill a man.

Hurt a man? Yes, absolutely. Put him down for the count? Certainly.

But kill? Even the deadliest traps (paint cans and the second-story tumble) would like result in bone fractures rather than death.

In Home Alone 2, I tallied six instances where Harry would’ve been seeing the pearly gates or been confined to a convalescent home for the remainder of a physically and emotionally painful short life. Marv should have bitten the dust no less than 10 times.

Good thing the dastardly duo exist in the universe of a family slapstick comedy.

Consider Kevin’s opening move: Setting a barrel with a plank in front of the store window. After chucking a brick through the store window (adding destruction of property to the credit card, theft and terrorist threatening charges he already racked up in the Empire State), Kevin lures the robbers outside, with Harry jumping on one end of the plank, followed by Marv hopping on the other.

That sends Harry flying in the air, crashing through a car roof.

Of course, there were creative liberties there — no man would be sent flying that far in the air. Setting that aside, a tumble that results in flattening a car roof would surely kill or paralyze a man.

Once Kevin gets the pair to the trap house, his next move is multiple bricks lobbed from the fourth story, drilling Marv square in the face.

Marv’s cry for agonies so disturbed my dog, she barked at the television set.

It only gets worse from there — some of the highlights include Kevin rigging up a bag of tools to fall on Harry’s head, electrocuting Marv with an ARC welder rigged up to a utility sink, swinging an iron 6-inch pipe into their faces and the coup de grace of lighting a rope soaked with kerosene on fire, causing the pair to let go and fall four to five stories onto concrete.

Where Kevin was defending his home and himself in the original Home Alone (and had no duty to retreat), Kevin searched these men out in Home Alone 2. They were going to rob old man Duncan blind and skip town — heck, they even told him that when they bungled a kidnapping/assassination of the boy. Sure, they’d make off with a mess of sick children’s money, but Kevin wasn’t in fear of bodily harm or imminent death once he was out of their custody in Central Park and hanging out with the Pigeon Lady (played by Brenda Fricker, the first Irish actress to win an Academy Award).

No, Kevin was looking for trouble. He didn’t want to save Duncan’s store — he was looking to end it with Harry and Marv, once and for all.

He lurked the streets of New York, tracking these criminal downs like a vigilante. Kevin McCallister was the Judge, Jury and Executioner in Home Alone 2.

Kevin hunted those men not in the warmth of his home, but on the cold streets of the Big Apple.

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