Released: 12th November
Seen: 12th November
In 1990 a little film called Home Alone was released. On a budget of a little under $20 million, the film went on to make about $476 million worldwide and become an instant classic that spawned exactly 1 good sequel and then 3 films that technically exist. Home Alone influenced so many other film makers who all took a shot at the “Kid makes an elaborate set of traps around the house that leads to an endless amount of slapstick” genre, which is why we have atrocities like The War With Grandpa. So many people have tried to recreate the magic of the original film and no one has pulled it off… and adding to that “Can’t pull off the magic of Home Alone” pile is Home Sweet Home Alone, a film that doesn’t even pretend to understand what made the original special and just desperately cashes in on a 30 year old property without any effort whatsoever.
Home Sweet Home Alone puts Max Mercer (Archie Yates) in the role of the boy who is stuck at home alone when his parents go off on a holiday. While he’s home alone, his house is broken into by Pam (Ellie Kempler) and Jeff (Rob Delaney) McKenzie who are there to steal a doll… a doll that they believe Max stole from their open house. See, Pam & Jeff have to sell their house because Jeff lost his job and they can’t afford it but if they can get the doll back that they believe Max stole from them, they can sell it and get their lives back on track. However, Max is clearly the reincarnation of Satan himself and turns the house into a series of death traps that would make Jigsaw jealous and keeps trying to kill Pam & Jeff while they just try to explain the situation every time they see this annoying brat… yeah, Home Sweet Home Alone is bad.
It’s almost stunning how much Home Sweet Home Alone misses the mark, the main problem being that they’ve turned the people breaking into the house into the sympathetic characters. Not only sympathetic, they’re pretty much the only characters in Home Sweet Home Alone you are able to root for because they’re trying to get back something that Max (allegedly) stole from them and without it they’re going to lose their house… that change alone means it’s no longer funny when they are put through the elaborate traps that are part of the Home Alone brand.
It also doesn’t help that neither Pam nor Jeff are even slightly intimidating. Rob Delaney basically plays his character like a complete wet blanket who is scared of everything and Ellie Kempler… is Ellie Kempler, she’s a precious angel of light who has never scared a single human being in her life. Remember how the original film used Daniel Stern and JOE FREAKING PESCI? You know why they used those two? Cos you believed instantly that these two men (who were explicitly bad guys without any grey area whatsoever) can and will gleefully murder Kevin in a heartbeat if they need to and therefore anything done to them was acceptable… Pam and Jeff just want a doll back, they don’t deserve the torment they go through!
There’s also just nothing original about all the traps used throughout the break in sequence of Home Sweet Home Alone, and original traps is one of the few things that this kind of film needs. We just get a bunch of things on strings being swung into heads and genitals, some slippery floors and a couple of nerf guns… that’s it. None of them are hilarious or over the top enough that you can really laugh at the audacity of it all, it’s just kind of uncomfortable and awkward, possibly because we’re not watching some innocent kid defending himself but an annoying little demon attacking a couple of people who just want their property back.
Home Sweet Home Alone can’t even be bothered to do a good callback to the original film, they were only able to get back one actor from the original (Devin Ratray, he played Buzz in the original film) to turn up for a few scenes with no impact on the plot. He has no jokes, he’s there to remind you that there was a better version of this film that was made 30 years ago by people who made the broad slapstick comedy work and maybe you should be watching that instead.
Home Sweet Home Alone isn’t just unfunny, it’s downright mean spirited. It’s a hateful film that almost surgically cut out anything that made the original film work. It’s weird, it’s almost like Home Alone as a concept only worked back in 1990 because all the stars perfectly aligned to make it work exactly one time and it’s never been done right since. It’s almost like this entire franchise should’ve died the second that Macaulay Culkin wasn’t available to do a third film because it turns out that he might’ve been the only reason those first two films worked. Skip Home Sweet Home Alone unless you want to ruin Christmas for everyone.