Happy Holidays, everyone!
Thank goodness this time of year is associated with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and a bunch of other fun holidays; can you imagine what November through February would be without days off, food, sports, more food, and more sports? I don't even want to think about it.
Now I know there are those who aren't all that into the holidays, and to a degree, I understand; it's hard to even take a breath this time of year without getting some form of Christmas-themed thingamajig stuffed down your gullet. But seeing as how I love stuffing things down my gullet, I really enjoy the holiday season. And perhaps no other holiday tradition has a more special place in my heart than spending those long, lazy winter days and nights on the couch watching Christmas specials. They are all great, in their own way, be it Charlie Brown, a claymation Rudolph, the Grinch (Jim Carrey of Boris Karloff), or even Pee-Wee Herman.
But for my money, there aren't many better Christmas movies than the 1990 classic Home Alone. Home Alone is easily in my Top 5, along with It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and Die Hard, and its place among those holiday elite is well earned. And while Home Alone is usually the first stop on my magical holiday movie tour, it has been something of a hectic December for me this year, so I'm a little embarrassed to say that I wasn't able to watch it for the first time until last night. It was well worth the wait, however, as like all great films, I was able to walk away from the experience once again having found something new to appreciate. No matter how many times I see that movie, I always see something new or view it from an entirely new light. And this year was no different.
However, this year's viewing seemed to strike a little closer to home than years past, as I just couldn't shake the feeling that I have not in fact waited all year to watch this movie, but I have been watching it almost every single Sunday since early September. And by the time the final credits rolled, I was convinced.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
The bad guys, clearly supposed to be evil but ultimately as likable as likable can be, covet nothing more than to make that big score, to finally bring home what they have described as "The Silver Tuna." They scout, plot, prepare, and plan as much as they possibly can, and go into their big night ready for the performance that will secure their place in the history books. However, right from the getgo, absolutely nothing goes right. Around every corner is a debilitating injury. Seemingly easy tasks prove disastrous. By the end of the night they are reduced to a limping, hobbling mess, a mere shell of their former selves who see no choice but to press on, even if it means they have to bite off someone's fingers to get what they want.
I don't know when exactly it hit me like a snowshovel to the face from Old Man Marley, but hit me it did: the 2013 Patriots are the Wet Bandits. No matter what they try, they just can't seem to avoid getting hurt, and it's just a matter of time before one final paint can in the head douses their dreams of eternal glory. To make things even stranger, it isn't at all hard to draw direct parallels between some of the hijinx that occur in Home Alone and some of the hijinx that have taken place on the football field this year.
So I decided to have some fun; below are some of my favorite moments in Home Alone, and the corresponding Patriots injury that best accompanies it.
[Note: I only decided to use the first movie for this piece. I fully acknowledge and love the genius of Home Alone 2, which is just as good as the original, but since I haven't watched that one yet this season, we're limiting our comparisons to the first movie.
Home Alone injury: Harry gets shot in the groin with a BB gun. The robbery hasn't even started yet and there Harry is, taking a point-blank round from Kevin's Red Rider right to the most intimate of areas. That right there would have been enough to make me rethink my decision to hit up this particular house, but little did Harry know that a BB to the BBs would be the least of his problems.
Corresponding Patriot: Danny Amendola. The season had barely even started, and ol' Danny boy ruined his groin muscle. In fact, Amendola ruined his groin so badly that the muscle simply tore off from the bone. Luckily, he has been able to play through it, but it has clearly affected his play; he isn't as fast as he usually is and can't get the kind of separation he's used to getting. That's certainly no way to start your year.
Home Alone injury: Marv gets hit in the face with an iron after mistaking the booby trap for a light switch. Once Marv makes it into the basement, it only follows that he'd want a little light to see what he's working with. Little did he know he was about to take about six pounds of metal to the dome as an iron plummeted down the entire length of the laundry chute to smash his head in.
Corresponding Patriot: Nate Solder. With this latest concussion, Solder has now suffered four in the span of two years. If any player on the Patriots has taken the football equivalent of a falling iron to the head, it's Solder. And while I realize that some of the injuries Marv sustains in Home Alone 2 (most namely four bricks to the head and an entire bag of concrete dropped on him) are more conducive to Solder's concussion woes, I have to stay within the rules here.
Home Alone injury: Marv's bare foot gets impaled by a nail. In perhaps one of the most gruesome moments in kids' movie history, Marv, after struggling mightily to climb a flight of tar covered steps, takes a long, sharp, probably rusty nail right through the bottom of his foot, an injury which sends him crashing down the stairs and screaming in agony.
Corresponding Patriot: Vince Wilfork. Big Vince is a lot like Marv's fateful climb up those sticky stairs: tough, difficult to move, and likely to hit you so hard that you lose your shoes. Unfortunately, a ruptured Achilles Tendon leveled his season and left the New England front line with a very large hole that they haven't quite been able to fill - much like the hole now in Marv's foot.
Home Alone injury: Harry slips on ice-covered steps, likely shatters his tailbone and lower spine. Harry, attempting to climb the front steps and make his way to the door, discovers too little, too late that Kevin has iced down the entire stairway and takes a pretty severe tumble onto the cold, hard, unforgiving concrete.
Corresponding Patriot: Kenbrell Thompkins. In an early December showdown against the Houston Texans, Thompkins elevated high in the air to haul in a 16 yard pass from Tom Brady. And while he made the catch, he also fell from a considerable height and smashed his hip on the hard, unforgiving turf of Reliant Stadium. He tried to tough it out for one play, but hobbled off to the sideline and we haven't seen him since.
Home Alone injury: Harry burns his palm on the McCallisters' doorknob. Perhaps subscribing to Occam's Razor, Harry decides to test Kevin's front door on the chance that he may have left it unlocked and Harry could simply waltz right in. However, not only was the door locked, but it had been heated to approximately 4,000 degrees, courtesy of what looks like a welding iron. The result? A perfectly formed "M" that Harry will carry with him on his hand for life.
Corresponding Patriot: Shane Vereen. Vereen broke his wrist early in the game against the Buffalo Bills during the very first week of the season. And much like Harry, who powered through the burn and continued his assault on the McCallister home, Vereen had an absolutely monster game against the Bills despite the break. New England would be without Vereen's services for the next 10 weeks, thus costing them their change of pace back and best pass catcher out of the backfield.
Home Alone injury: Marv climbs in through the window barefooted only to step on an army of smashing ornaments. The only scene more brutal than the nail through the foot, this cringe-inducing tragedy was almost enough to get me to wear shoes around the Christmas tree for the rest of my life. Nothing but shards of shiny broken glass and little pieces of metal completely covering the bottom of Marv's already pulverized feet.
Corresponding Patriot: Aaron Dobson. When exactly Dobson sprained his foot is unclear, but the injury is severe enough to have kept him out the past several weeks. Regardless, he took a shot to the foot and he took one hard. Hopefully when he comes back, he isn't forced to waddle around on the outsides of his feet the way that Marv was, as that's likely to hamper his speed. I'd like to think that he'll be back soon, but if the foot sprain is even half as bad as having a Christmas ornament explode between your bare toes, we're all lucky Dobson is even still alive.
Home Alone injury: Harry gets his head set on fire with a blowtorch. Having finally found a way into the house after taking a pretty significant beating outside, Harry walks into the McCallisters' kitchen only to find his entire head on fire. Hands down the worst injury of the first Home Alone movie.
Corresponding Patriot: Rob Gronkowski. No, Gronk's head didn't catch fire (although you'll be hard pressed to convince me that at no point in his life has Gronk experienced a burning sensation); however, this is the kind of injury that cuts deep. It sidelines Gronk for at least eight months, possibly longer, and is the one injury that this team couldn't afford going forward. Once you take a blowtorch to the face, it's game over, and that's what happened to Gronk - and quite possibly the Patriots - here.
Home Alone injury: Harry walks right into a wad of glue, then gets covered with feathers. Of all the woes that befall Marv and Harry in this movie, this one might be the most demoralizing. Nobody gets hurt, but Harry has to endure the humiliation of getting tarred and feathered by an eight-year-old kid and walk around for the rest of the night covered in caulk and pillow down. Not exactly what he was expecting.
Corresponding Patriot: Adrian Wilson: It's easy to forget that Wilson is still on the team, as a) he has been on IR since preseason, and b) he so greatly underwhelmed during his time here so far. Wilson was brought in to be the hard-hitting, message sending veteran presence in the secondary that the Pats have been missing since Rodney Harrison retired. Unfortunately, Wilson came into training camp slow, behind the ball, and ineffective, and was in real danger of getting cut before the season even started. Doing the right thing by a long-term vet with an impressive career resume, New England put him on IR with a "hamstring injury" to save him some face and let him get paid. Not really an injury, per se, but somewhat embarrassing and not what we were all hoping for - much like walking into a house only to catch a face full of feathers.
Home Alone injury: Marv and Harry slip on Micromachines. As a quick aside, Micromachines were awesome and I wish I hadn't sold my entire bin full of them at a tag sale in 1997 for $20. But even I never used those little cars promoted by that super fast-talking guy with a mustache for evil the way that Kevin did. The Micromachine slip was unique in that it's the only injury in the movie that wasn't directly quarterbacked by Kevin in some way; Marv and Harry simply ran into a high-traffic area covered in little vehicles of death and paid the price as a result.
Corresponding Patriot: Tommy Kelly. When Tommy Kelly hurt his knee against the Bengals in Week 5, he did so in the worst possible way: without making contact with another player. Non-contact knee injuries are almost always season-ending, and Kelly was no exception. There was hope that he'd be able to bounce back at first, as the Pats didn't IR him until November, but the writing was on the wall - much like the writing should have been on the wall for Marv and Harry, as they should have picked themselves up, taken a few Micromachines for good measure, and gotten the hell out of there.
Home Alone injury: Harry trips over a clothesline on his way up the stairs. After running the gauntlet of first floor obstacles, Kevin goads Marv and Harry upstairs with the classic line, "You guys give up, or are you thirsty for more?" After their first attempt to traverse the stairs is thwarted by a duo of swinging paint cans, their second attempt proves more successful - until Harry runs into the rope Kevin has strung across the hallway and takes yet another tumble, banging his shin, knee, and head on the floor.
Corresponding Patriot: Sebastian Vollmer. The halls of Gillette Stadium are still humming with the echoes of Vollmer's gutteral, piercing screams as he went down for the season with a leg injury. The injury ultimately resulted from Vollmer tripping while blocking for Stevan Ridley as Randy Starks trapped his leg under him trying to make the tackle. The result was almost certainly a broken leg and another downed lineman.
Home Alone injury: Harry gets hit in the ribs with Marv's crowbar. After desperately throwing Buzz's tarantula off his face (yet another severely traumatizing moment), the spider lands on a still unconscious Harry. Marv, being the good partner that he is, doesn't want Harry to experience the horrors that he just did, and decided to kill that thing by smashing it with a crowbar. Harry, coming to just as Marv raises the crowbar to deliver the killer blow, gets rewarded with a cracked sternum, severe chest bruising, and probably a punctured lung as the tarantula scurries away unharmed.
Corresponding injured Patriot: Jerod Mayo. While making a tackle against the Atlanta Falcons, Mayo tore his pectoral muscle and was lost for the year. And while tearing a pec isn't quite the same as taking a crowbar to the chest in a failed attempt at arachnicide, it's debilitating nonetheless. The worst part is that Mayo is tough enough so that he probably would have gotten up after getting smashed with a crowbar - but when you suffer a pectoral tear, that's the end of that.
Home Alone injury: Marv and Harry swing from a rope face first into a brick wall. In what is a surprising feat of agility, especially considering what Marv and Harry have just been through, they decide to put their fingerless gloves (by the way, great choice for committing a burglary, guys) to use by following Kevin out the attic window via the attached rope to try and corner him in his treehouse. Of course, Kevin was anticipating this move and cut the rope when they were about halfway out. The result? A Tarzan-style swing right into the side of the house.
Corresponding Patriot: Aqib Talib. I'd like to think that we have all collided with a wall at some point in our lives. Granted, I'd also like to think that most of those collisions didn't result from getting a zipline cut while we all dangled 30 feet in the air, but pretty much anyone who has ever done anything active has collided with the wall at some point. And I don't know about you, but the two parts of my body that got hurt the most from those little run-ins were my shoulder and my hip. Talib was having an MVP season before his hip injury, and he hasn't been the same since. Luckily, Talib has still been able to play, but much like Marv and Harry after hitting the side of the house, he just isn't what he used to be.
Home Alone injury: Snakes gets murdered by Johnny in "Angels With Filthy Souls." In what looks like a fairly standard business transaction, Snakes delivers the stuff to Johnny in exchange for his promised 10% of the payday. Johnny and his Tommy Gun, however, proposed a counter-offer: Snakes has until the count of 10 to get his ugly, yellow, no-good keister off his property. I'm no expert, but I feel that Johnny might have skipped a few numbers, because before he can even turn around Snakes has been pumped full of lead. Kevin can barely stand to watch the horrors taking place and is forced to abandon his giant bowl of ice cream and hide his eyes, a large part of his innocence lost forever.
Corresponding Patriot: I kept trying to think of a Patriot who reminded me of Johnny - tough, unflinching, on good speaking terms with Tommy, just got paid a lot of money, and who ended up shooting some poor guy while everyone in Patriots Nation hid behind their hands in horror, disgust, and dismay - but I just couldn't think of anyone. Oh well.