Reviewing a John Hughes movie is fairly pointless. As the success of last year's ``Uncle Buck' proved, this writer-director holds great appeal for the mass audience, no matter what the critics say.

``Home Alone,' his latest feature, is nearly as bad as ``Buck,' and it will probably be almost as popular. Apparently, precocious children and sadistic slapstick is a combination America wants to see.The film is based on a contrived premise. When his family leaves home for a Christmas vacation in Paris, 8-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is left behind.

Now, given the large size of his family, it's conceivable that Kevin might get overlooked. But then the film insists we believe that Kevin enjoys the experience of being abandoned - rather than being scared out of his wits - and doesn't even bother to run to the neighbors for help.

The danger comes in the form of two burglars, who stake out the house after realizing the family is going away. They never counted on Kevin, though, who manages to protect his property in a variety of clever ways.

Like most kids in John Hughes movies, Kevin speaks in full sentences, many of which contain parenthetical phrases. He is, to be sure, precocious. But his IQ seems to go up and down from scene to scene, depending upon the plot.

He's smart enough to turn his home into a makeshift mine field, utilizing various household appliances. But he's so dumb he marches out in front of the burglars, who are sitting in their truck just outside his door, to cut down a Christmas tree.

All right, you're probably thinking: So it's unbelievable, but is it amusing? The answer is no, unless you're a fan of mean-spirited, sub-Stooges slapstick.

Better to stay home alone than to go out and see ``Home Alone.'Left alone by his family, Macaulay Culkin defends the house against two bumbling burglars in 'Home Alone'

Review HOME ALONE RATING: PG THEATERS: Janus, Brassfield and Four Seasons in Greensboro and the Marketplace in Winston-Salem.

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