HOME SWEET HOME ALONE is directed by Dan Mazer. The film stars Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney, Archie Yates, Aisling Bea, Kenan Thompson, Pete Holmes, Ally Maki, and Chris Parnell. The film was written by Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell; it’s based on a screenplay by the late John Hughes. It’s the sixth HOME ALONE film, and released direct to the Disney+ streaming service.
Young Max Mercer is left home by himself when his family takes a trip to Japan due to a mix-up. It’s not long before Max’s home is being invaded by working-class folks turned burglars, who believe Max is in the possession of a priceless doll, following he and his mom visiting an open house they were holding. Will Max be able to defend his home from these threats during the hectic holiday season?
HOME SWEET HOME ALONE is the latest installment in the HOME ALONE film franchise. The first two films, starring Macaulay Culkin and revolving around the McCallister Family, were hit theatrical releases, while the third featured a similar premise but a different cast and didn’t do as well as the first two with critics or audiences. The fourth and fifth installments, HOME ALONE 4: TAKING BACK THE HOUSE and HOME ALONE: THE HOLIDAY HEIST, were made-for-TV productions that were widely panned, with the former revolving around the McCallisters played by different actors, and the latter featuring entirely different characters. John Hughes wrote the first three but had no involvement in the made-for-TV installments. So, how does film number six, HOME SWEET HOME ALONE, measure up?
HOME SWEET HOME ALONE is never going to replace the classic original 1990 film, but it’s a surprisingly entertaining film nonetheless. The visual gags are more-or-less what you’d expect from this series, and it certainly delivers there. The movie has some decent ideas and elements that work for the most part, likely due to the film being based on a screenplay by John Hughes, though some elements like the familial relationships and the like don’t touch the original movie.
HOME SWEET HOME ALONE does a decent enough job in the casting department, with Archie Yates (JOJO RABBIT) taking center stage as the young home defender. When it comes to laying the hurt down on invaders, this young man certainly delivers in his comic performance, and you’ll certainly get your fill of the cartoon-style violence laid down by our young hero. The extended cast includes names such as Rob Delaney and Kenan Thompson, with everyone getting a chance to give it their all.
An unusual but welcomed element here is that the movie is set in the same fictional universe as the earlier McCallister-centric movies, with a handful of easter eggs and references throughout. We even get a cameo from an actor from the original two films, though I won’t spoil it or the context of it here.
The overall tone of the movie stays true to earlier HOME ALONE movies, but it also introduces a few twists. While the first two movies pitted young Kevin up against career criminals Harry and Marv (a brilliant Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern who are sorely missed in this franchise), this time around we get a pair of down-on-their-luck working-class types who stage an invasion to get back their property, with often hilarious if not predictable results (couldn't they have just waited until Max's mom got home and had a talk with her?) It’s a radically different direction for the franchise that makes the villains more sympathetic and puts a twist on things.
The weakness of HOME SWEET HOME ALONE is that the familial relationships never feel quite as genuine as those in the classic films. Max and his mother just never felt that close to me, nor did Max feel close to anyone in his family (I struggle to remember if they even shared any actual scenes with him, in fact). Funnily, the villains actually pull off the “family” stuff better than the heroes do, which was an unexpected and likely non-deliberate twist.
HOME SWEET HOME ALONE is fun and bit mindless at times, but it manages to be surprisingly entertaining. No, it’ll never replace the classic 1990 original, but it’s got a heart and some decent laughs, making it worthwhile Christmas viewing material, even if the desire to revisit it may be limited. But who knows if this installment will stand the test of time? If nothing else, it’s far better than the made-for-TV installments that came before. Moderately recommended.