“I don’t know why they’re always trying to remake the classics. Never as good as the originals” is a genuine line uttered in this Home Alone rehash, and you best believe that it felt like a genuine wink from the writers who clearly had zero faith in this recent rebranding.
Home Alone is a concept that can only ever truly work once (or not at all depending on how you look at it), but this basic festive themed movie recipe has gone on to have multiple sequels and reboots over the years, and whilst I can’t call this the worst of them (which is surprising) it’s damn close.
Max Mercer (Archie Yates) is the Kevin McCallister of this story. Left behind by his family who are heading to Japan for the holidays, this leaves Max… home alone (how original). When a married couple discover that a priceless family heirloom has gone missing, they pay a visit to the Mercer household with the belief that Max has taken it (despite little reasoning to believe so). Jeff and Pam McKenzie (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper) will go through literal pain in order to acquire the McGuffin that could set them free of their financial struggles, whilst Max will be prepared to defend his house from the unwanted trespassers.
There’s a different dynamic with how the story is told this time, in that the ‘robbers’ in this scenario aren’t really robbers at all. As a matter of fact it’s who you end up rooting for when the inevitable home invasion takes place. But that clearly wasn’t the intention. At no fault of Archie Yates, who would seemingly slip into the role with ease with a stronger script, Max comes across as a highly unsympathetic character. Even in the set-up of the movie, which it ultimately glosses over with little care for any of its characters, Max only ever carries the worst traits of Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin. I mean, he’s not as maniacal, but at least the scenario Kevin was handed somewhat justified his harsh and borderline psychopathic trap choices.
Archie’s Max is just meanspirited, entitled and not even remotely hard done by (unlike his character suggests). Quite frankly you feel the need to cheer on the characters that bizarrely are written as sympathetic, but even their questionable decision making and lazily structured character arcs leave us with much the same problems. Not caring for any outcome from either scenario has Home Sweet Home Alone just wasting away its potential by trying to instil something unique and different in this reboot.
After acquiring the rights to FOX, its no surprise that execs over at Disney were rubbing their little hands together at the thought of reinvigorating a Christmas classic for the modern generation. Sadly it doesn’t even come with a slither of the heart or charm that John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire) brought us in the original over thirty years ago.
Perhaps the worst part of this whole endeavour is that sitting through the carnage isn’t even fun. The selling point here really is witnessing the many fun ways that a kid can bring literal harm to a group of no good doers. The best this film could muster up in that regard is the old Mentos and coke experiment, a pool-ball shooter and a couple of slippery surface gags. That’s really about it. Where’s the fire and electrocution goddammit!
There’s nothing truly homely or sweet about this cash grab. I can see where the potential came from that might provide us with something new, earning its right to be dug up from the movie sequel grave, but the writing, pacing and lack of general care that has gone into making this even worthwhile has caused it to massively miss its mark. ‘Kevin’s not here’, and trust me when I say, I can see why he chose not to be.