As crazy as it is to believe, the Home Alone franchise has been around for over 30 years. The first Home Alone was released in 1990 and became the highest-grossing movie at the domestic box office that year. The second film, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, was another smash hit. But the subsequent sequels, 1997’s Home Alone 3, 2002’s Home Along 4: Taking Back the House, and 2012’s Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, never came close to the success of the first two films. In fact, the fourth and fifth films didn’t even get theatrical releases, which, in 2002 and 2012, usually signals the movie is terrible, which they were.
So with a franchise that has been in the dumps for nearly twenty years, what was the expectation going into their latest entry, Home Sweet Home Alone? I can’t say I had any expectations at all for this film. There were things I was hoping for: silly one-liners, whacky gags, absurd shenanigans. I was also excited to see young Archie Yates, who was a scene-stealer in 2019’s Jojo Rabbit, in a starring role.
Even with no expectations, Home Sweet Home Alone is worse than I ever could have thought. There was no redeeming quality to this movie. It is a mean, vile, incredibly stupid movie that insults the first two Home Alone films and makes the latter three look like they are good movies, which is an astounding feat.
You might think I’m being too harsh on a movie geared towards kids, but just because a movie is “for kids” doesn’t mean it should be a bad movie. It should be a crime for any parent to show this movie to their children. It is completely heartless and soulless. There is no message for anyone to learn or a single character that is remotely redeemable. There isn’t even an exciting action sequence to spark a little bit of joy or fun. Watching this movie offers nothing to kids, adults, or any other creature who may watch it.
What made the first two Home Alone films as good as they are was their simplicity. The plot was simple: a kid got left home alone, some criminals try and rob the house, the kid defends himself and the house using craftiness and things around the house. The criminals were simple in that all they wanted to do was rob the house. We didn’t get a backstory and we didn’t need one. All we needed to understand is that these guys were bad. The movie had good messages about the importance of family and the heart of the movie is the relationship between Kevin McCallister and his mother. It also featured some fun gags and humor, which made the movie’s fun and entertaining.
Home Sweet Home Alone has a lot of failures in it (the entire movie is essentially one giant failure), but the film’s biggest failure is that it gets overly complicated for no reason. The film tries to make you feel sympathy for both Max (Yates), the child who is left home alone as his family flies to Tokyo for the holidays, and “criminals” (Ellie Kemper and Rob Delany), who are not actually criminals, but money-strapped parents who think Max took a valuable doll of theirs during an open-house and are trying to get it back. The movie spends way too much time with the criminals, which drags the movie down because they are horribly written, stupid, obnoxious characters with no redeeming qualities. This also takes away from learning more about Max and understanding who he is as a character, which then makes his actions towards our “criminals” seem more psychopathic than defensive. Though it tries to be different from past Home Alone films and try to do something different beyond the regular burglars breaking into the house and being stopped by a child, they failed to realize that these movies are about the son-mother relationship and the home alone child learning a lesson about the importance of family. Home Sweet Home Alone didn’t do any of this. It needed to focus on Max and less on the idiotic criminals. Would that have made this a good movie? Probably not, but it would have been slightly better than what we actually got.
Oh, and you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned Max’s mother (Aisling Bea) at all. Well, that’s because the movie barely acknowledges her as a character. It skims the surface of the relationship between her and Max at the beginning, but then she becomes a nothing character that you forget is in the movie until she pops up for a brief scene.
Home Sweet Home Alone is one of the worst movies I have seen in 2021, if not the absolute worst. I hated everything about this movie. If you wish to watch it or show it to your kids, who am I to judge. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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