REVIEW: ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ is Severely Lacking in Originality and Charm

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Home Sweet Home Alone - But Why Tho

The holidays are fast approaching which means a gluttony of movie bingeing. I adore putting on some classic films and spending the time with my family and sharing some laughs. High up on that watch list is Home Alone 1, and 2 and is something my kids are just now starting to enjoy. So when I heard the news that Disney were introducing another installment to the series I was both excited, and nervous. Home Sweet Home Alone is a 20th Century Studios original film set to premiere on November 12th, just in time for Disney+ Day.

Directed by Dan Mazer, starring Archie Yates as Max, Rob Delaney as Jeff, and Ellie Kemper as Pam, the film continues on the story first launched back in 1990, a whopping 31 years ago (this statement makes me feel so old). When Jeff and Pam realize they possess a priceless family heirloom, it’s the answer to their prayers, and it might just save them financially. But when it suddenly goes missing, they will stop at nothing to get it back, including breaking into the house of the last person who was seen holding the item, Max Mercer. Max must now defend his house from the intruders in the most creative ways possible.

I can’t really beat around the bush as I genuinely struggled with this film. It honestly lacks any originality as it tirelessly relies on a constant barrage of blatant meta references, and parallels to the first two films. After seeing the trailer I was left skeptical about the overall quality and sadly the final product proved those concerns to be warranted.

Now look, the Home Alone franchise was by no means a cinematic masterpiece to be held aloft with unquestioning admiration. It was an entertaining, silly, comedy from John Hughes that brought together a great cast at the right time. I am happy to see people attempt to recreate the lightning in a bottle, but this film has all the appeal of a straight to VHS movie sitting in the bargain bin you can muster.

The film tries to twist the classic story by adding some character motivation for the would-be home invaders, Jeff and Pam. The pair is depicted early on as a struggling family after Jeff loses his job, forcing them to unwillingly put their house on the market. It’s an interesting spin given the two are forced into a situation to reclaim their stolen heirloom from young Max rather than just have them reincarnate the roles of burglars. While the objective appears to flip the script and create a new perspective on the classic tale, it lost its balance and feels extremely classist. It might sound harsh, but consider the optics: a family struggling financially might have to sell their house only to realize they hold an extremely valuable heirloom to which a young boy may have stolen it and kicks the crap out of them.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, Max is just defending his house, his property and has a right to do so but it made me squirm. Part of that obstacle comes down to the acting itself. Yates is a brilliant child actor, he was fantastic in Jojo Rabbit, but this role felt like it was too much for him and his performance came across as forced. The same can be said of Max’s mother, played by Aisling Brea, who fails to convince anyone she was in fact concerned for her son’s well-being.
Kemper and Delaney’s renditions were far more solid especially when it came to the slapstick physical comedy.

Thankfully, this is where this film has a few redeeming qualities. At its core, it’s a physical comedy, and it does succeed in creating a few laughs. Overall though, Home Sweet Home Alone feels like a shell of a film. The plot comes across as very random like the goal was more to provide some quick content for the streaming service, and less of providing a really enjoyable family film. If you’re looking for an example of a great time for the family, then check out something like Yes Day or Mitchells vs. The Machines.

Ultimately when you trade off a franchise name like Home Alone, you need to bring your A-game, otherwise it just feels derivative. Which is where Home Sweet Home Alone finds itself. It’s film in which I’m positive younger audiences will undoubtedly find a few reasons to giggle but will have adults rolling their eyes. I don’t see this one standing the test of time, let alone a month. Sadly, a very missable submission.

Home Sweet Home Alone is available exclusively on Disney+ this Friday November 12th.


Home Sweet Home Alone
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    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

Ultimately when you trade off a franchise name like Home Alone, you need to bring your A-game, otherwise it just feels derivative. Which is where Home Sweet Home Alone finds itself. It’s film in which I’m positive younger audiences will undoubtedly find a few reasons to giggle but will have adults rolling their eyes. I don’t see this one standing the test of time, let alone a month. Sadly, a very missable submission.