Why? Why must you add to that which is already perfection?
This is the question I would raise to the lovely makers of this dismal film. “Home Sweet Home Alone” is the sixth film in the Home Alone series, and you’d think that the producers would learn — if it’s not Macaulay Culkin (“Home Alone”), then we don’t want it.
The newest film follows ten-year-old Max Mercer (Archie Yates, “Jojo Rabbit”) — think British Kevin with bad acting — as he defends his home from Pam (Ellie Kemper, “Bridesmaids”) and Jeff McKenzie (Rob Delaney, “Deadpool 2”). The McKenzies are a pair of genuinely stupid, painfully awkward parents, and they’re trying to save their house by reclaiming a valuable doll that they think Max stole. (Utterly shocking plot twist, Max actually stole a can of soda, not the creepy doll. We never saw it coming.)
In a weird way, the movie focuses more on the McKenzies than Max. The audience is supposed to feel sorry for this idiotic couple who do baffling things like break into the wrong house, attempt to walk up an icy driveway instead of taking a stroll on the adjacent snow-covered lawn and continuously try to steal this stupid doll instead of just telling Max to give it back or calling his mom. It’s one thing to watch criminal thieves be flat-out dumb; it’s quite another to watch parents make utter fools of themselves, especially while cracking unfunny jokes about “the Cloud” and saying “lit” every five seconds.
Yep, you heard me correctly. “Home Sweet Home Alone” tries to be different by bringing in that modern twist. After his family goes to Tokyo and leaves him behind, Max tries to access the internet on his parents’ computer (foiled by parental controls) and confides in his family’s “HomeBot” when he’s lonely.
Jeff is currently unemployed because that “darn Cloud” made his data migration position obsolete. In general the McKenzies act more like Boomers than Millennials. It’s not funny. Even the parts that are supposed to be sweet and wholesome (think Kevin meeting his mom at the Christmas tree in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”) are weirdly forced and awkward.
“Home Sweet Home Alone” kind of sucks. But at least it knows that it sucks. Perhaps the best line in the whole movie is when Jeff’s brother Hunter (Timothy Simons, “The Interview”) is watching a sci-fi reboot of “Angels With Filthy Souls” (Keep the change, ya filthy animal!) and declares, “Ugh this is garbage. I don’t know why they’re always trying to remake the classics. Never as good as the originals.” I had a good laugh over that.
I’d say the parts I genuinely enjoyed were the nods to the original “Home Alone.” Towards the middle of the film, Max calls the police. And when Buzz (Devin Ratray, “Home Alone”) first stepped out of the patrol car, I just about died. Ratray did an absolutely phenomenal job of portraying Kevin’s older brother all grown up. He really poked fun at the way Buzz always has his mouth hanging open, and it had me cracking up. Later on, Max’s mother (Aisling Bea, “Love Wedding Repeat”) calls the police to have them check on Max, and the task is delegated to Buzz. But instead of taking it seriously, Buzz just rolls his eyes and says, “Listen. When I was a kid, my family went on vacation. We forgot my little brother Kevin … twice. He called in the 289 to mess with me. The idiot does it every year.” Buzz also blames the first “bogus home alarm call” on Kevin, saying, “The place had a McCallister home alarm system. Oh, gee, a coincidence? I don’t think so.” The whole idea of Kevin creating a home security company when he grows up and pranking Buzz every year is pretty hilarious.
But the fact that the references to the original “Home Alone” are the best parts of this reboot just demonstrates that “Home Sweet Home Alone” has nothing to show for itself. If anything, it just emphasizes how good the original “Home Alone” is for being a genuinely funny, warm family comedy. So when you’re curling up by the fire on Christmas this year, don’t bother with “Home Sweet Home Alone.” After all, remakes are never quite as good as the originals.
Daily Arts Writer Pauline Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.