Home Sweet Home Alone, 2021.
Directed by Dan Mazer.
Starring Archie Yates, Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney, Pete Holmes, Aisling Bea, Jayne Eastwood, Cara Ricketts, Catherine Cohen, Devin Ratray, Mikey Day, Kenan Thompson, Ally Maki, Chris Parnell, Timothy Simons, Katie Beth Hall, Max Ivutin, Andrew Daly, Maddie Holliday, and Jordan Carlos.
A married couple tries to steal back a valuable heirloom from a troublesome kid.
Among spending quality time with family and exchanging gifts, the holidays (Christmas here, as usual with the Home Alone series) are about tradition. Nearly every family has some kind of routine, whether it be celebrating in a particular home, certain foods, a specific time for presents, and annual activities with holiday comfort films falling under that umbrella. To my knowledge, most of these movies (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Bad Santa for something raunchy, and yes, even the original Home Alone) still hold up for the most part as classics, immediately putting the existence of Home Sweet Home Alone into question. Who will spend their precious holiday family time checking out if this is a waste of time or not or show it to their children when the Macaulay Culkin classic will get the job done? I will tell you right now; Home Sweet Home Alone is a sour continuity reboot only worthy of jeers.
Generally, franchise updates have a sense of how to bring a series into modern times. Directed by Dan Mazer (and scripted by multiple writers), Home Sweet Home Alone only seems concerned with nostalgia references and telling the same exact story, albeit from a different angle. Apart from that, it might as well be the same movie but infinitely worse, which further begs the query of why literally anyone would bother watching this.
For those still curious, Home Sweet Home Alone introduces viewers to the eventual would-be burglars, a pair of struggling parents (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper, respectively) in dire financial straits contemplating selling their home filled with cherished memories to make ends meet. Meanwhile, young Max (Archie Yates, who briefly shined as a sidekick in Jojo Rabbit) desperately needs to use the bathroom while on a car ride home, prompting his mom to feign interest in purchasing the home while he takes care of private business. Around the same time, Max also gets into a spat over soda with homeowner Jeff, but not before he is made aware that one of his mom’s hideous antique dolls (one of them an ugly boy with an upside-down face) is likely worth a pretty penny. Jeff doesn’t take any of this seriously, and eventually, the families go their separate ways.
Upon arrival, it becomes instantly clear that Max’s home is a madhouse unto itself filled with relatives. In familiar fashion for the series, the family is also planning a vacation for the holidays, which comprises two flights. Naturally, it’s also such a chaotic household that one can’t really blame Max for hiding away in the backseat of a vehicle watching cartoons on one of the attachable televisions. More importantly, as he feels a sense of relief and peace away from his own family, we feel the same toward all of these considerably annoying characters.
Still unsure of what to do regarding their home, late at night, the dimwitted but tech-savvy Jeff (apparently he works in data management but somehow can’t remember a four-digit combination) does some quick Internet research and finds out that his late mom’s porcelain dolls are in fact worth heaps of money. It also appears that while arguing about soda, Max took the doll. Max is also now home alone as he sleeps through both groups leaving in the morning for the airport, with each set of family members presuming he is with the other.
With that in mind, the stage is set for home invasion shenanigans, this time contextualized around the robbers as antiheroes with a cause worth cheering on. Of course, it is not long before contrived and forced miscommunications pile up, leading Max to believe that the adults wish to do him harm. An assortment of lies to their children and relatives stack on top of one another as they sneak away from family activities to intrude inside the sizable property with a reasonable amount of security. Unfortunately for Max, the police called to the scene as a response to that security are rather useless and also come with some shameless and unfunny ties to the original films.
It all paves the way for aggressively annoying encounters between looters and defender, with Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper shouting and shrieking their way through copious amounts of pranks and pratfalls that feel uninspired in their broad slapstick canvas. Eyerolls are also had whenever the movie tries to reenact or put a twist on one of the original booby-traps, such as setting one of the thieves on fire. These characters are simply no Harry and Marv, both of whom had charm alongside their bumbling stupidity. Archie Yates also doesn’t have much personality or entertaining set pieces to work with, going through the motions just as the film itself. And not to knock any of the actors involved, but Rob Delaney is clearly playing to the Will Ferrell crowd of comedy as if that’s who Disney actually wanted, but even he had the dignity to say no to this project.
Hopefully, Disney+ subscribers also have enough pride to pass on watching Home Sweet Home Alone; it’s soulless and pointless nostalgia fare with barely any laughs. The film even mocks remake culture by poking fun at a remake of a fake gangster movie from the original, showing how little self-awareness is here. Or maybe the filmmakers are self-aware that they have made something outlandishly awful and don’t have the dignity to care.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com