Home Sweet Home Alone

Directed By Dan Mazer

Starring – Archie Yates, Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney

The Plot – Max Mercer (Yates), a mischievous and resourceful young boy who has been left behind while his family is in Japan for the holidays. So when a married couple (Kemper and Delaney) attempting to retrieve a priceless heirloom sets their sights on the Mercer family’s home, it is up to Max to protect it from the trespassers, and he will do whatever it takes to keep them out. The reboot promises hilarious hijinks of epic proportions, and despite the absolute chaos, Max eventually comes to realize that there really is no place like home sweet home.

Rated PG for slapstick violence, rude material and some adult language

home sweet home alone trailer – YouTube


– Easter eggs. This film earns at least a single notable praise when it instills several clever winks and nods to the original film, while supplanting an ideal that no film in this series will ever reach the level of the first two efforts. This not only gives it a self-aware indulgence that frees it from the expectations of trying to emulate that same consistency, but also allows it the accessibility of maniacal mayhem that it uses in unloading an inferior but fun climactic battle. On the idea of the familiarity itself, there’s several visual cues and dialogue used to competently illustrate that this takes place in the same universe as the first film, all the while not taking away from the focus and consistency of the story at the forefront of this narrative. It pays off audience investment in a way that they will periodically appreciate with a 30 year old nostalgia of their own that the film candidly celebrates, while introducing an entirely new generation to the traits of its product that kids and adults can appreciate simultaneously.

– Formulaic diversity. While there are more than a few scenes almost entirely replicated from the original “Home Alone” to this sixth chapter, I was pleased to find that the overall structure to the film gives birth to new directions that make it anything other than a lifeless shell of the sequels that have meandered close by to that original effort. For starters, this film follows the burglars in a way that fleshes them and their ensuing conflicts out for the sake of some complimentary humanity. It doesn’t make Max a supporting character because of such, it just values his adversaries in a way that equally leveled the playing field of ensuing stakes, supplanted with some easily digestible motives in their actions that makes them anything but one-dimensional baddies who decreased in familiarity with each passing effort, after Harry and Marv went to prison.



– Mixed signals. John Hughes’ absence is still felt nearly fifteen years after his untimely passing, with predecessors who still undervalue the importance of heart and warmth to a family-first narrative. Sure, that sentiment is mentioned repeatedly throughout the movie’s dialogue, with the kind of subtlety of an Army tank speeding through a Nitroglycerine factory, but it’s never realized with corresponding actions to anything that attains the notoriety and nourishment of the feel-good experience. Instead, our protagonist is frequently a greedy and annoying little shit, whose third act transformation only weaves into focus because the movie absolutely requires it to be, and not because of evidential emptiness that surmises as a result of being home alone during the absence of his nagging family. As to where the first film captured the fear and isolation during such a decorated holiday, “Home Sweet Home Alone” relishes in that factor, undercutting any semblance of longing for a rushed storytelling device that wipes away much of the nuance and class of the cherished holiday favorite.

– Secondary seclusion. With this being a measly 85 minute film, and very little wiggle room after the necessity of the initial set-up, you start to realize the weight of matters of subplots sacrificed as a result of an abruptly unaware pacing scheme. As to where the mother returning home to her son played a vital role in fleshing out the stakes and isolation of Kevin’s dangerous situation, here it’s only brought in when absolutely needed to show what is missing from Max’s life, but not with anything compelling or required in advancing the plot. In addition, the editing removes key characters in a way that makes them transparent throughout the engagement, but then appear out of nowhere in the final moments of the film. This is the case for Max’s on-screen father, who we are initially introduced to during the set-up of the first act, but not in any way that deems him the fatherly superior to Max’s irresponsible immaturity. It sets up this plot as a means to feel like a big reveal by the film’s end, if just for how much it casually refers to him, then it underscores it with an emphasis that echoes the lack of influence his weightless appearance adds to the complexity of the aforementioned stakes.

– Clumsy communication. This film could easily be condensed into a fifteen minute short film, if these characters actually got together and had a conversation to resolve the gravely misunderstandings that make up this movie’s conflict. This goes far beyond conveniences because the leaps and bounds that pertains to character interpretations are rooted in such incoherent mindlessness that you can’t help but groan at the way they’re materialized, proving a complete lack of depth for the screenplay that didn’t know how put these movements in motion, so they instead created sitcom level situations that only further articulated the characters’ lack of intelligence, the longer it persisted in stretched out unlikeliness. By film’s end, the magnitude of its manipulating reaches such dumbfounding levels that it leads to a resolution that cements the whole experience as inconsequentially tout, further emphasizing how pointless and unnecessary this throwaway sequel actually is, with respect to underwhelming conflicts that far exceed irresponsibility.

– Detestable characters. I find it difficult to remember a holiday film not named “Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas” where so much of the supporting cast and expanding ensemble were so unnecessarily mean-spirited as the ones in “Home Sweet Home Alone”. Not only does this undercut the intention of the film’s thematic family impulses, which it uses continuously to bash over the heads of their audience, it also imprisons us to engagements and interactions that are downright insufferable. Did you ever think in a Home Alone film that the burglars would be the two most appealing characters in the film? Hell, Max the protagonist is a spoiled, selfish worm of an adolescent that I often found myself wishing he would accidentally walk into one of his dangerous traps, which could’ve saved the film’s final grade remarkably. In addition to him, the burglars family, their church choir, and even their realtor (Played by the typically great Kenan Thompson), feel like rich stereotypes of the most one-dimensional type, making 85 minutes with them feel like purgatory for the first film being my favorite Christmas movie of all time.

– Cheap production. Cash grabs like “Home Sweet Home Alone” are certainly not a new concept to Hollywood productions, but with the addition of streaming services now requiring a library of options at their users disposal, more shells like it will be a frequent. The problem with that intention, at least in this instance, is that with this movie never reaching paying audiences for theater prices, their production values can dwindle to laughably bad results, and that’s certainly the case here. Whether in the cartoonish consistency of the special effects, which padded the stunt work in a blanket of lifeless and weightless C.G, or the convoluted essence of the editing obscuring scenes to confusion, or even the shameless pandering of a musical score that touched on the familiarity of John Williams iconic score, without downright borrowing from it, everything here underwhelms in the presentational aspects, visually conveying that this is an inferior product in every way imaginable, for the sake of cashing in on a name that challenges your love for nostalgia.

– Cheesy overload. Was the original “Home Alone” overtly sappy at times? Absolutely, but it earned those moments with a direction that prescribed sentimentality and humanity to the experience of the brutality and ensuing humor. Here, the comedy is fleshed out with the exaggerated emphasis of something like “Jingle All the Way”, with the jokes feeling as basic and detectable as dialogue will outline. In addition to this, the immaturity of its material, pertaining anywhere from a characters’ pants falling off, to spoofing movies that kids will have no inkling of familiarity towards, feels as improper and irresponsible as a film with this thematic sentimentality will conjure, creating a contradictory desperation that plays itself entirely to one side of the audience age demographic, and in turn underscoring every chance of likeability or personality that should feel charming, and instead feel juvenile.

– Painful dialogue. I’ve saved the worst for last, as the lines articulated by this comedic ensemble of actors directly undercut their appeal at nearly every measure of the spectrum along the way, and cemented many audible groans for my engagement. Some of the problem pertains to its hip enveloping it attempts, with lingo and jive that feels every bit unnaturally forced as it does shamefully pandering, but the bigger problem is in the transparency of its structure, which often gives away the intention of its purpose long before the punchline or delivery becomes apparent. This obviously makes the film tremendously predictable, but also supplants this hollow believability with characterization that never molds to a seamless enveloping, instead only furthering our disconnect to them with artificial lines that spoon-feed exposition with one forceful shove at a time.

My Grade: 2/10 or F-

2 thoughts on “Home Sweet Home Alone

  1. Ha! I have to admit I scrolled all the way down to the rating before reading the review. This is one film I REFUSE to watch with the kids. Great job as always describing in detail why it deserves a flunking grade.

  2. You’ve written several hilarious reviews this year, but this is definitely one of your funniest that I’ve read in 2021. Your sheer passionate resentment toward this sequel to one of the best holiday classics of all time has me in full agreement from start to finish. Probably my favorite line would have to go to “The kind of subtlety of an Army tank speeding through a Nitroglycerine factory”. Though a close second would be your comparison to the detestable Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas which is about the only recent holiday film I can of that has sucken this low on the naughty list. There are only a couple films that have made me this mad this year and you gave it sprawling review that ripped this film apart better than any kid unwrapping their Christmas presents. Fantastic work!

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