Whether true or not, I trust in the fact that only 2% of the world hasn’t seen Home Alone at least fifty times.
Even if you could find the rare example of a human being who hasn’t seen this film, it’s a safe bet that they know the plot: Kevin McCallister, home alone, saying “horse’s ass” to the riotous approval of we the viewers.
But I ain’t here to talk about Kevin. I’m here to talk about Buzz.
You remember Buzz, don’t you? He was Kevin’s older brother, and we weren’t given many reasons to like him. He was sort of Bluto-ish. Rude, self-centered and basically unpleasant. Sarcastic and snarling. Even Buzz’s hair felt threatening.
Buzz seemed like an asshole. I don’t think anyone was supposed to watch Buzz and think, “I understand and admire this character.” We were supposed to dislike him. He was gruff and mean. He talked about female armpit hair. If we learn in the reunion movie that Buzz was actually a paid informer for Marv and Harry, we’d be more “aww I knew it” than surprised.
That’s how Buzz seemed – at least on the surface. Truth is, Buzz wasn’t an asshole. He was so much cooler than he ever let on.
NOBODY with a bedroom like Buzz’s could’ve been a bad guy.
See, as the film progresses and Kevin becomes free to raid through everyone’s stuff, he makes a beeline for the one room that was always 100% off-limits: Buzz’s bedroom.
It’s there that we learned just how amazing Buzz was. His bedroom was covered from top to bottom in all sorts of alluring items, from Dracula figures to sealed packs of secret Twinkies. The guy had it all: Playboy magazines, inflatable fish, you name it. Dude had a fucking live tarantula. Nobody could’ve had so much great stuff and not be a tiny bit cool.
When I watch the film today, I do it drowsily. I’ve seen it too many times. I know to perk up for the big scenes, like when Kevin drops the groceries, but watching the movie now is mostly an excuse to meow-sing its classic instrumental theme to one of our cats, just because I know how much it annoys them.
But man, I always pay attention when Buzz’s bedroom is onscreen. Every time it is, I notice something new. Tiny glimpses of this, short looks at that. I try to soak it all in. I never make my brain work harder. And the frenzy always hits its peak when Kevin stands in front of Buzz’s wall-mounted shelving unit.
Ohhh, those shelves.
CLICK HERE to see it SUPER-SIZED!
I love those shelves. It’s just such organized clutter. Controlled chaos. My still-current interior decorating style could best be described as “let’s make every space available to us look like Buzz’s shelves.” Those shelves serve as an altar for kids and nonreligious geeky men.
Today, we dissect. Buzz’s shelves just weren’t onscreen long enough for us to really examine them. You had Kevin bouncing all over the place, obstructing good views by idiotically climbing the things. It was maddening. You wanted a long and uninterrupted look at Buzz’s shelves. You needed to know if that puffy red thing really was a Koosh ball.
I say, “Enough is enough.” We have the technology. We can watch, pause and zoom to our heart’s content.
So, I’m proud to present, for the very first time anywhere, a nearly complete breakdown of what Buzz actually had on those shelves. At least, the stuff we can arguably recognize. I’m only excluding the baseball gloves and sports memorabilia, because I’m me.
|#1: GIRLS & CARS POSTER
The classic aspirational image: Do well in school, and your future will be full of fast cars and women wearing nothing.
|#2: TARANTULA TANK
The tarantula is the star of Buzz’s shelves, but I think we should give partial credit to the ultra cool blue tank light.
|#3: MELTING MAN POSTER
Buzz didn’t strike me as an Incredible Melting Man kind of a guy. Maybe he never saw the movie. Maybe he just thought the poster would look cool on his bedroom door. I’ve done it. So have you.
|#4: HE-MAN’S BASHASAURUS
Yup, the vintage Masters of the Universe vehicle, only noticeable through the combined powers of Grayskull and pause buttons.
|#5: SKULL LIGHT
Not entirely sure about this one, but I think it’s one of those semi-flashlights kids carry around while trick-or-treating. I suspect that this item holds tremendous sentimental meaning for Buzz.
|#6: ANT FARM
This particular ant farm seems a little too “antique” for Buzz. Maybe it was a hand-me-down from Dad? I could totally see a young John Heard naming ants.
|#7: STARING LINEUP FIGURES
I’m skipping over most of Buzz’s sports memorabilia, but I can’t skip these. My friends treasured their Starting Lineup figures, and even I bought a few, because the illusion of shared interests was better than admitting that I collected discarded spark plugs.
|#8: MUMMY FIGURE
Hey, I had this guy! It’s DA MUMMY from Imperial’s 1986 Universal Monsters collection! Came with all of these painted-on yellow stains for that extra mummy oomph.
|#9: PLASTIC ARMY MEN
I’m loving the fact that Buzz found a specific container for his plastic army men. Dude was all bark. Total OCD packrat nut behind closed doors.
|#10: MONSTERS FIGURES
Only visible for a moment, Dracula and Gill-man round out Imperial’s Universal Monsters collection. I absolutely must be related to whoever was Home Alone’s set dresser.
|#11: MAD MAGAZINE CARD GAME
I occasionally read Mad Magazine, but it always made me feel…I dunno…uneasy? I can’t explain it, and I’m not going to let a one second appearance of its card game be my reason to delve deeper.
|#12: KOOSH BALL
Hey, a Koosh ball! Two thousand murdered rubber bands blended into the best-ever method of wasting thirty seconds. I used mine to feather-dust my face.
|#13: INFLATABLE BAT:
Everyone’s owned a giant inflatable bat at one time or another. Mine was silver and said “LIGHTNING” on it in a crazy font.
|#14: TABLETOP BASKETBALL GAME:
Another one I’m having some trouble ID’ing. I think it’s a tabletop basketball game, but I guess it could be a bowling game, or something else entirely. Some slack, please? It was hard enough to ID the Bashasaurus.
|#15: INFLATABLE SHARK:
Only noticeable when Kevin stupidly tries to climb up the shelves, causing them to crash down. Seriously, who climbs shelves that have live tarantulas on them?
Freaking awesome, Buzz. You’re freaking awesome.
It didn’t end there, though. It didn’t even start there. Before we got a good look at Buzz’s shelves, there was a scene with Kevin ransacking his private storage chest.
CLICK HERE to see it SUPER-SIZED!
CLICK HERE to see it WITHOUT KEVIN’S HEAD IN THE WAY.
We all had one of these, right? It’s the classic storage chest – the kind that was meant to look old and army-like, but was regularly sold at department stores for $30. Every kid had one, and every kid stashed it with things their parents and siblings weren’t supposed to see. If the shelves were for our proudest achievements, in the storage chests went our darkest secrets.
Buzz’s storage chest was mainly used to hide junk food that he was evidently not allowed to eat. Or maybe he put Twinkies in there because it was certain that a house containing no less than 462,000 children would’ve provided at least one Twinkie-robber.
The chest is nearly as beautiful as Buzz’s shelves, but like the shelves, it isn’t onscreen long enough for more than a focused glance.
Watch, pause and zoom.
|#1: JUNIOR MINTS
Buzz is one of a kind. Who hoards Junior Hints? People buy them and eat them. He’s the only person to ever buy Junior Mints and not empty the box in two minutes.
|#2: HOSTESS TWINKIES
Gotta cry foul on this one. The Twinkie is under a bunch of other, heavier items. Buzz had to know that this was a bad way to store Twinkies.
|#3: PLAYBOY MAGAZINE
Buzz, man. Of the billion things in your trunk, this was the only one that actually merited hiding. And yet, there it is, right on top. Bad allocation of the trunk’s real estate, and only acceptable if he “just got done with it.” Buzz is so gross.
|#4: SUGAR BABIES
Looks like the package was opened and half-depleted. Midway through, I guess Buzz decided that he wasn’t a big fan of Sugar Babies. I could have warned him.
|#5: CRUNCH GATORS CHIPS
I was sure that they were actually called Crunch Taters, but it clearly says Crunch Gators on the bag. Picture potato chips, as hard as bricks and extra spicy, but only if it sounds good.
|#6: TOY PLANE
It’s so random and harmless. Not sure why he put it in the secret trunk. The plane must have some special meaning for Buzz. Maybe it was from a grandparent who was hit by a car.
It looks like the firecracker packs I grew up with, but jumbo-sized. Is it sad that I liked fireworks more for their package art than the way they exploded? Is anything I say or do not sad?
|#8: HAND EXERCISE THING
I can’t recall the official name of these devices, but one came packaged with every low-rent “children’s workout” set ever sold. (In my case, it was the Hulkamania Workout Set.)
|#9: PHOTO OF BUZZ’S GIRLFRIEND
|#10: RANDOM TOY VEHICLE
Feel like it’s on the tip of my tongue, or the edge of my brain, or whatever is the proper thing to say when you don’t want to admit that you cannot identify a toy vehicle that you feel you should be able to identify. Someone, help.
|#11: CAR MAGAZINE
I wasn’t a car nut by any stretch, but I loved car magazines. For the life of me, I can’t remember why. It’s not like I read them, or found pictures of cars incredibly interesting. Maybe it was the ads for local car shows, which usually featured “Carzilla” or some other car-eating robot monster.
It’s unfortunate that we didn’t meet more of the McCallister neighbors. The thought of Buzz spying on Old Man Marley is pretty unsettling.
I’m guessing he ate the gum and stuffed a wad of pot in there. Why hide Chiclets?
|#14: JUNK FOOD THAT NEEDS ID’ING
I really, really want to know what these are. Looks to be a stack of tiny-sized candy pancakes. Sounds awesome.
Buzz McCallister: Secret bubble enthusiast. This makes sense to me. I don’t see Buzz as the type of person who would’ve advertised bubble lust. He only blew them late at night, and was sure to giggle only as a mouse would.
This experiment undoubtedly proves that Buzz wasn’t such a bad guy. He just had a lot of fronts. Maybe he was really self-conscious. Being a dick to everyone was his mask. Nobody could have a bedroom like this and not be cool.
Home Alone came out in 1990. Even in its fictional universe, Buzz would now be old, mature and on his own. The stuff on those shelves and in that chest would’ve been trashed or eaten long ago. The fucking tarantula would be dead.
But we can pretend it isn’t that way. In my mind, Home Alone disregards its sequels and partially merges plots with Groundhog Day. Buzz never ages. Nobody does. That bedroom stands forever, just as it was.
Believing that has always made me happy, and that became even truer after doing this dissection. Until I did, I never realized that Buzz had a Boglin.