Home Alone should have always been one film. John Hughes and Chris Columbus’ classic is a live-action cartoon. Although the burglars are getting incinerated, concussed, and shot at, they brush it off like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. The 90s was a very different time where blockbuster films were simple. The good guys were good, the bad guys were bad, and no one was hurt in the end. People seem to forget that Batman openly murdered goons with no remorse until Christopher Nolan made a point of Batman not killing people. As an adult, it’s easy to see Home Alone as a time capsule film. Physically abusing other people for gags looks tacky in 2021. It has for maybe a little over ten year since we grow beyond our juvenile humor to an extent. Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy stilly stuff. I love my Jackass like anyone else. Except in Jackass, everyone’s in on the gag.
Attempting to adapt to a new age, Home Sweet Home Alone approaches the burglars cleverly by not making them crooks. Instead, they’re a married couple who wants to keep their house rendering them as quasi victims. Kevin McCallister was a kid being hunted by Joe Pesci; there’s a clear threat to the audience that Kevin must do whatever he can to survive from him. Daniel Stern is the comic relief to re-assure the kids int he crowd that Joe Pesci won’t kill Kevin off-screen. Here, the child is hurting two people who beg him to stop to the point where he knows he can.
Out of context, Max is defending his life; in context, he’s a psychopath. Attempting to echo the themes from the original Home Alone, Home Sweet Home Alone attempts to tie the familial togetherness angle into one neat little bow. That bow isn’t tied quite strong enough since everyone in this movie is either a walking punchline, or generally lousy person.
Whatever sympathetic angle that may exist for Jeff and Pam is continually undercut by their continual shallow attitude towards other people. It must go in Jeff’s family since his brother (Timothy Simons) is a smug socialite along with his trophy wife Mei (Allie Make) Pete Holmes’s Uncle Blake is a bit like Kevin’s uncle Frank, who’d always call him a “little jerk.” Blake isn’t as abusive as Frank, just CONSTANTLY SCREAMS EVERY JOKE FOR COMEDIC EFFECT making me miss Frank’s crassness.
Kevin’s brother Buzz (Devin Ratray) returns to the franchise as an officer of the law. If only Buzz grew a little wiser. I wish I could have seen a neat little unexpected character growth for Buzz instead of reducing him to the bumbling local cop who still calls his brother a “trout sniffer.”
There’s not much to say about Max. I enjoyed Archie Yates’ company. He delivers a proper British dry charm opposite to Macaulay Culkin’s energetic presence. Max never grows, however. He’s the same from beginning to end in the film. Kevin evolved throughout Home Alone. He learned how not to be selfish or judge others by their appearance. Kevin also understood the value of embracing your family rather than rejecting them. Whatever Max learned in this story is beyond my comprehension.
Upon the film’s conclusion, its message of family togetherness during the the Christmas season fails to resonate. Maybe not the best sequel, but Home Alone 2: Lost in New York possessed the visual pizazz Chris Columbus brought back to the table that the other Home Alone films fail to replicate. Now robbed of style, the filmmaker’s attempt at substance is admirable but haphazard, rendering this another Christmas flick that’ll be placed alongside Grandma’s bunt cake.
Home Sweet Home Alone is available for streaming on Disney Plus November 13. Do you agree with my rating? Let me know why or why not respectfully.