No. No, it doesn’t. Disney has once again come for our childhoods with another soulless reimagining of a classic property — and what’s worse, they even acknowledge this fact in the actual film. While watching an outer space-set remake of “Angels with Filthy Souls” (the movie Kevin watches in the original), a character rhetorically asks “why are they always remaking the classics?” Clearly, they knew what they were doing, and at least someone decided to be self-aware about it instead of blissful ignorance.
Everyone else in this movie is living in that fantasy world. Archie Yates is charming and likable enough (especially given his young age), but it’s a shame that his character, Max Mercer, is such an unsympathetic brat…and not in an endearing way, like this series’ first protagonist. Regardless, Yates isn’t the main problem with this movie, because he’s actually trying, which is more than I can say about most everyone else here. Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney play Pam and Jeff McKenzie, a married couple who have fallen on hard times. They believe Max has stolen from them, so they plan to break into his house and steal back what they believe is rightfully theirs. And...what do you know? Max’s family went on vacation to Japan, and conveniently left him behind.
I don’t mean to keep comparing Home Sweet to the original Home Alone, but it really doesn’t give me a choice. While I’m grateful it doesn't do the typical reboot schtick of showcasing things we loved about the original as a way of saying “Don’t you remember this? We can do this to!”, Home Sweet Home Alone is guilty of the exact opposite (and still sinful) thing: it takes out everything that made the original great but doesn’t feel the need to add anything in its place. Thus, we get a ridiculous, surface-level Christmas movie that contributes absolutely nothing new to the genre.
Home Sweet Home Alone is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not even the worst Christmas movie I’ve ever seen. Like all bad holiday movies, though, Home Sweet lacks the joy, cheer and triumph that makes this sub-genre sweet, rewarding and cathartic. It’s not for a lack of effort, though — Home Sweet Home Alone really wants to make you to like it, even going so far as to incorporate a game of Guess the Guest Star. Prolific comedic actors Kenan Thompson, Pete Holmes, Chris Parnell, Andy Daley, Mikey Day and Jim Rash (who are quite funny in most everything else) pop in occasionally, and I understand it’s trendy to have recognizable comedians show up in comedies, but it was honestly groan-worthy here. Maybe I had just given up on the movie at this point, or maybe I was just sick of Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney’s phoned-in performances (which is a shame, seeing as they get the most screen time out of everyone), but the cameos did nothing for me.
I did mention this wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, so clearly there was at least one thing that worked. There are a few moments where we get into Max’s head, and we get a pretty decent portrayal of how kids tend to over-exaggerate things they might hear out of context. Hold on, let me rack my brain, there’s got to be something else…
Home Sweet Home Alone is in-keeping with the franchise tradition of putting the antagonists through the wringer. Max subjects the McKenzies to not easily survivable conditions, and they miraculously come away fully intact, “without lasting nerve damage,” as Jeff proudly brags towards the end. The only issue is that most of the booby traps Max sets are up are basic and uninspired, nowhere near the creativity of the first two films in the franchise. I’m sorry, guys, I’m starting to think I didn’t like this movie…
Director: Dan Mazer
Writers: Mikey Day, Streeter Seidell