Home Sweet Home Alone is a long, long, long, long way from ever being as compelling as the first film.
Home Sweet Home Alone (2021) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on November 18, 2021
Rating 1 /5
As the sixth entry in the Home Alone saga, the franchise has lost all recognition of the appeal. The bare essentials are present for the concept, where a cute kid stuck at home alone concocts all manner of slapstick traps to stop the intruders. All of the heart and child-like charm of the original for all its holiday sentimentality and over-the-top physical comedy is missing. The comparison may seem unfair until the obvious insertions to make this film within the Home Alone canon are most apparent.
Max Mercer is played by the adorable Archie Yates of Jojo Rabbit fame. This kid is sweet enough to fit the Kevin McCallister mold so, of course, the film has to go out of its way for you to see him as antagonistic. Max is established as a bit of a brat who struggles to gain the attention of his crowded family. While his family is certainly busy and stressed, they don’t seem to be as active against him the way Kevin fought for some appreciation. It makes the wish of Max to be left alone for the holidays feel like a whimsical wish come true and more of a spoiled child getting his way. That’s a low bar to cross as well considering the film is once more set in an incredibly affluent part of Chicago, where the most decadent of houses exist.
One family who can’t afford their home in Chicago as easily is a couple of Jeff (Rob Delaney) and Pam (Ellie Kemper). Jeff has lost his job and they can’t come up with the funds for their family to stay in their home. They’ll have to sell the house until they discover there’s an antique doll in their house worth $200,000. The only problem is that it's missing. Thinking back to their open house, they recall Max eyeing the dolls and making gender stereotype observations. Perhaps he has the doll. A break-in is in order for this comical couple.
There’s already a problem with this format. The intruders into Max’s home are a couple desperate for money. They have kids and feel insignificant considering they may not be able to provide for them, considering how much their rich relatives will rub their success in their faces. It makes the coming of such slapstick traps as fire on the feet and ice nearly piercing testicles a little less fun. It was easy to laugh at the bumbling criminals of the Wet Bandits considering they were cartoonish fools who seemed built for Looney Tunes. Even worse, it turns out the couple has the wrong house.
There are so many problems with such a film. For starters, we keep getting callbacks to the original in a rather sad way. Kevin McCallister is only referred to in name only as of the CEO of a home security system. His brother, Buzz, appears briefly as a cop who despises Kevin and doesn’t take home invasion seriously anymore. There’s also a callback to the goofy noir picture Kevin watched in the first film, this time rebooted as a sci-fi picture which is just...awful. Even worse, the people watching this movie remark that remakes are terrible and nothing can beat the original. I’m assuming the film is trying to beat the criticizing audience to the punch but that’s like watching a boxer punch himself before his opponent can. It’s just bizarre and depressing.
One story aspect I couldn’t stand was how Jeff’s job that was lost to cloud technology was a database migration expert. Really? Of all the jobs this film could’ve chosen for a father to lose to automation, database management is one of the least believable. The film even goes out of its way to make sure that this guy doesn’t have a chance at ever finding a similar job with zero people online reading his resume. All of this is blamed on “the cloud.” He even argues with a retail employee about solid-state storage which is just so unbelievable and far from the humor I’m sure the writers thought they were evoking.
Home Sweet Home Alone is a long, long, long, long way from ever being as compelling as the first film. I’m sure that statement may seem a given for the sixth Home Alone movie but it remains true when considering this latest iteration. True, there’s a better cast than previous direct-to-video entries but this is little more than extra frosting on a rotten cake. There’s no spirit of Christmas in this farce that is sure to be as easily forgotten and quickly glazed over for Home Alone on Disney+. Thank goodness families with the streaming service will easily be able to navigate away in the same app to the better film of this aging franchise.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.