A misinformed sequel to classic Christmas comedy Home Alone, Home Sweet Home Alone has already earned a reputation as clear evidence that some franchises are better left alone.
Home Sweet Home Alone tells the story of Max Mercer, who is accidentally left behind when his family go to Tokyo for Christmas, and Jeff and Pam McKenzie, who repeatedly attempt to break into his home to steal back something they believe Max stole from them.
Starring a genuinely impressive cast of comedic actors – including numerous SNL alums – and written by Mikey Day (also of SNL), you could be forgiven for thinking that Home Sweet Home Alone would feature some genuinely funny comedy. What it has instead is mostly cynical, unfunny gags at the expense of today’s youth (mostly at how technology plays a role in children’s lives in modern times) and a liberal serving of 30-year-old recycled bits from Home Alone dressed up to resemble nostalgia.
Still, while it might look like it on the surface, Home Sweet Home Alone is actually more than a simple retelling of Home Alone. Key differences include the lack of any real antagonist (except the crushing financial responsibilities of modern parenthood), the fact that the child isn’t really the protagonist, and the fact that there’s very little genuine entertainment value involved. Due to the particularly unlikable character of Max, the moral ambiguity of Jeff and Pam, and no other character being given any depth whatsoever, there’s not really anyone to root for. This leaves Home Sweet Home Alone feeling redundant – it’s predictable enough not to be directionless, but its characters are tediously written caricatures that drain any enthusiasm that may have been felt for this film.
One small narrative device that was worth a mention was the inclusion of Buzz McCallister, the brother of Kevin from the original Home Alone. With Devin Ratray reprising his role, Buzz references the events of Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in a throwaway joke that actually furthers the plot while dispelling a potential plot hole. While the term “clever writing” is certainly not one to be used in conjunction with this film, Buzz’s inclusion was a nice touch, and it made Home Sweet Home Alone out to be more of a spiritual successor than a reboot.
However you classify Home Sweet Home Alone, it’s still a generally unfunny and uninteresting film, and it relies far too heavily on recycled material. While its story is reworked, it still follows the same basic formula, and manages to carry off the same festive slapstick with none of its predecessor’s charm. This is especially sad in that way it wastes its numerous comedic stars in Rob Delaney, Ellie Kemper, Aisling Bea, Kenan Thompson, and Pete Holmes, with talented young actor Archie Yates completely wasted in a role so utterly two-dimensional that it was actually difficult to watch at times.
While it had a few moments of emotion and a few genuine laughs, these were blatantly lifted from Chris Columbus’ original film, and Home Sweet Home Alone‘s only original aspects were remarkably underwhelming, making for an all-round unnecessary and unenjoyable experience.
Summary: Almost every aspect of Home Sweet Home Alone has already been done far better by other more original films. A solid cast and slight rework of Home Alone‘s premise is enough to land the audience’s interest, but it spends most of its runtime chasing its tail in a vain attempt at humor.
Highlights: Aisling Bea’s English accent is both convincing and unspeakably uncanny to hear from someone so incredibly Irish. It’s impressive, but it’s so jarring that it’s hard to concentrate on anything else.