‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ is the ‘Home Alone’ remake that everyone has been dreading. Instead of Kevin, we now follow Max (Archie Yates), a sweet but trouble-making kid, who feels ignored by his exasperated mum, Carol (Aisling Bea), as she tries to hold the fort organising the family Christmas vacation. Lo and behold, Max is accidentally left behind when the family jet off to Tokyo. But before he can get too upset, he has to become armed and ready as a couple – Pam (Ellie Kemper) and Jeff (Rob Delaney) – try to break in.
Nobody really wanted ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’, as the Macaulay Culkin-led original – and its sequel – are so beloved. This is actually the fifth instalment in the ‘Home Alone’ franchise, so it likely won’t be the first or the last cash cow. There are some interesting choices made in the film, including in its casting of a selection of actors who are associated with charm, humour and all-round loveliness. The decision to have Dan Mazer as director – his writing background including ‘Ali G Indahouse’, ‘Borat’ and ‘Bruno’, and directing ‘Dirty Grandpa’ – is far more baffling.
Mazer’s mark can be seen in a couple of bold jokes, for example, one of the first thing Max while home alone (it's heavily implied) look up porn on the family computer, but immediately comes across a parental block. Later he tries to get his Alexa equivalent to search for “booby traps”, only to be blocked again. Other ‘Home Alone’ activities Max pursues include reading his sister’s diary, only to be grossed out and toss it aside. He also builds Lego, eats a lot of candy (in a scene very akin to Will Ferrell’s ‘Elf’ turn), and rides an ironing board down the stairs. But such moments pale in comparison to that iconic aftershave scene of ‘Home Alone’ or Kevin's viewing of ‘Angels with Filthy Souls’ (“Keep the change, ya filthy animal”).
Aside from all that usual stuff, ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ sees a major change in the ‘Home Alone’ story surrounding the burglars. What we have is a married couple who are on the verge of selling their family home since the father has lost his job and they’re unable to afford it. Clearly we’re meant to have the feels here, but then what proceeds is Ellie Kemper (who brings her typical adorable Ellie Kemper style to the movie) and Rob Delaney have the living daylights kicked out of them by Max.
Essentially, they’re stealing back a rare heirloom that could save their house, but the fact that their whole feud with Max is based on miscommunication and misunderstanding feels cheap, unrealistic, and ridiculous. There’s no life to these characters or real heart in this plot. And while the cast is great, one is sorry to say that Archie Yates is somewhat bland as our Kevin McAllister stand-in. Yates lacks the presence and sweetness of the young Macaulay Culkin, making for a far better turn in his supporting role in ‘Jojo Rabbit’.
Kids, I suppose, might enjoy all the pratfalls, but the whole feature feels utterly pointless – especially given ‘Home Alone’ is already on Disney+.