Review: 'Home Sweet Home Alone' (2021) Dir. Dan Mazer
The sixth entry into the 'Home Alone' franchise, this time taken up by Disney after buying 20th Century Fox; it's a new era with new faces. but with the same old slapstick home defence...
The Mercer family are taking a vacation to Tokyo from their hectic family life in America; aunts, uncles, cousins all come together to celebrate Christmas. There's just one problem; the Mercer family forget their young son Max (Yates) and he's left home alone.
What doesn't help Max in an already precarious situation is desperate parents Jeff (Delaney) and Pam (Kemper) who need a priceless family heirloom that they are sure Max took from them and has stashed inside the house.
As the Mercer's try to get back to Max, it falls to him to defend his house from the Jeff and Pam, who simply want to get back what is theirs to help keep the family finance in check. Will both families be able to make peace and goodwill before it is too late?
Home Alone spawned an enjoyable sequel, with all original cast and characters returning for similar hijinks but in a different location. The idea was wearing thin, but the spirit was there and it was enjoyable family festive fun. But trying to shake up the themes for a new incarnation just doesn't work, and it does the original far more injustice than probably intended.
It doesn't help that Archie Yates as Max Mercer is not just wooden in delivering his dialogue, but also he is a very unlikeable character from the start. Rude, obnoxious and boring. What made young Kevin McCallister in the original so endearing was wit and cheeky charm, as well as his innocence and fragility - he was a 10 year old who experienced a whole host of emotional highs and lows in being alone. You cared for him, and shared many of the experiences he did. Here, Max is never really alone - Yates struggles to conjure up any emotion or pathos for his kid, no matter how hard he tries. He has much more interaction with people in the community than Kevin ever did, and never feels like he's in much peril, and doesn't even seem to enjoy himself as much as Kevin did.
We've got no memorable aunts, uncles, cousins or next door neighbours - just silly characters trying to be the funniest character in a collective scene of others, running around and bumbling and shouting and gurning. It's embarrassing to watch.
The script has no sharp wit or crackling, natural dialogue exchanges and everyone is trying to be written as a funny character. Over-acted, over-played and generally over silly, but with a good old fart gag to seal the comedy on offer.
The "bumbling crooks" in Ellie Hemper's Pam and Rob Delaney's Jeff are simply normal people going through the stress of moving house at Christmas time and dealing with visiting family. They're not crooks in the sense, just people struggling to stay afloat and trying to get back a priceless family relic that was stolen by Max...so the moral lines are blurred from the start in rooting for anyone to come out on top! We have no nefarious Wet Bandits here with wonderful crimes under their belts, just desperate parents who continually question what they are doing and why. Hemper and Delaney have showed how they can be funny with the right material, and this just isn't it making them continually over act for the sake of trying to get laughs.
As the plot follows much of what we have seen before in a family home being invaded, the premise here tries to be different in that we are supposed to feel sorry for pretty much everyone in their own right, but sadly it just doesn't work. No amount of silly pratfalls, slapstick tumbles and the usual inability for adults to get out of simple tricky situations makes this a very memorable or enjoyable film.
We have a score that harkens the John Williams classic as well as songs used from the originals to jingle those nostalgic bells, as well as many nods and winks to the original two that set an unmatchable template. Even the final act which it takes far too long to get to , since that's all we are here for, is far too busy trying to replicate what has come before, but with less of the balls to actually make you wince in pain at some of the more horrific traps we've had in the past. Family friendly comedy doesn't need to be stupid and silly.
Keep your eyes peeled also for a familiar McCallister appearing now working for local law enforcement helping bridge the films, and shedding light on the fact Kevin now owns a home security alarm business.
'Home Sweet Home Alone' doesn't get more self-aware than an in-movie remake of 'Angels With Filthy Souls' that prompts one of the characters to question why they remake classics, because they're never as good as the original. They should have listened.
'Home Sweet Home Alone' is a co-production between 20th Century Studios and Hutch Parker Entertainment