By Kory Glover
As much I dreaded that I would have to watch this movie, I had a sliver of hope that Home Sweet Home Alone would be palatable because there are many funny and talented people behind this film.
Aisling Bea, portraying the mother, is a very Irish comedian who’s appeared on multiple British television shows. Pete Holmes, playing the eccentric uncle, was downright hilarious during his Collegehumor days. Two-time Academy Award-winning director Dan Mazer has both Borat films under his belt, and writers Mikey Day and Streeter Sindell have plenty of comedic credits.
How could this possibly fail? Well, that’s easy. Just take away the charm, adult edge and heart from the original, and you have Home Sweet Home Alone.
It’s almost as if they took everything we loved from the Chris Columbus directed, John Hughes written classic and watered it down to make some run-of-the-mill kids’ movie… you know, like the sequels did. Remember how those turned out?
Pam and Jeff are desperate for more income after the latter lost his job three months prior, and Pam’s teacher salary isn’t cutting it. Out of options and unable to keep up with the payments, they begrudgingly resort to selling their home. This is such devastating news that they keep it from their children; I guess they’ll tell them when the boxes are in the moving truck.
Sadly, with Christmas on the horizon, along with Jeff’s horribly obnoxious brother, the joyful season is hitting them hard. But then they get a glimpse of hope in a defective porcelain doll Jeff inherited from his mother that could be worth a whopping $200,000.
But uh oh, when he goes to retrieve it, he finds that it was stolen. But don’t worry, he knows exactly who took it; a bratty 10-year-old named Max Mercer (Archie Yates) who recently visited their open house to use the bathroom.
Why can’t they just go to the kid’s house and simply retrieve it, saving us an hour and a half of this joyless film? Because, like the first film, Max’s family is getting ready for a big family vacation across the world. So, thinking no one’s home and the uncle, rather obtusely, yelling out the house’s alarm code right in front of Jeff, the couple makes a plan to simply enter the house and retrieve it.
However, through painfully forced misunderstandings, Max is convinced that the pair want to sell him to human traffickers. He’s also convinced himself that if the police get involved, then his parents will be jailed. So, he feels that he must protect his house from these two.
I honestly don’t know where to start with this film because there is so much to unpack.
For one, the story is distractingly lacklustre compared to the original film. Remember how vital Catherine O’Hara’s role was in the first film? Her constant struggle to get home, almost to the point of insanity while struggling to connect with her son?
Well, in this picture, Carol (Aisling Bea) only has about 15 minutes of screen time throughout the film, and almost none of it is with Max. There’s one scene where she yells at him while on the phone, and that’s it. That’s the most connection we get with these two.
Another problem is that, while Archie Yates is clearly trying in his new role, the writing gives him nothing to work with. This kid not only has minimal personality but also has no character arc.
It was a big deal in the original that such a young kid was left all by himself. The movie laid out a perfect arc for Kevin McCallister as the young, helpless child who had to quickly grow up and defend his home from ruthless criminals. There’s none of that in this film.
There’s a scene where he’s fed up with the rambunctious family, but he doesn’t interact with anyone, so there’s no emotional connection. So, in the morning, when he finds out everyone’s gone and he almost immediately starts celebrating that they’re gone, it just kind of makes Max look like a spoiled brat.
I’m not going to act like Kevin McCallister wasn’t a pain in the neck in the first movie, but it was offset by his family constantly bullying and treating him like a pathetic little child. Cutting this out simply cuts out the message of Home Alone; you may not always get along with your family, but you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
One of the biggest sins in this movie is the waste of comedic talent. Pete Holmes, who you may remember as Batman (or Badman) from Collegehumour, is criminally underused to only shout unfunny jokes. Chris Parnell (Archer, 30 Rock) shows up for a 30-second cameo, as does Jim Rash (Community). Even Kenan Thompson, one of the funniest cast members on Saturday Night Live, is reduced to painfully forced scenes that make you cringe rather than laugh.
Is there anything I can say positively about the movie? Well, there’s a blink, and you’ll miss it sight gag where the Mercer’s home is protected by “McCallister Security.” I don’t know, imagining Kevin McCallister growing up into a security specialist is kind of funny to me.
Max’s homemade traps are somewhat sadistic for a family film, but it was refreshing to see some decently done slapstick after being subjected to so many bad jokes.
Other than that, there’s nothing more I can say that’ll cement how bad Home Sweet Home Alone is. So, I’ll just end this review with a quote from Chris Columbus about this reboot:
“Nobody got in touch with me about it, and it’s a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. What’s the point? I’m a firm believer that you don’t remake films that have had the longevity of Home Alone. You’re not going to create lightning in a bottle again. It’s just not going to happen. So why do it? It’s like doing a paint-by-numbers version of a Disney animated film – a live-action version of that. What’s the point? It’s been done. Do your own thing. Even if you fail miserably, at least you have come up with something original.”