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Home Sweet Home Alone (2021) – Review: A Glossy and Uninspired Attempt at Making a New Holiday Classic

November 11, 2021

Quick thoughts: Grade – D+ – Home Sweet Home Alone is a failed attempt at recreating the magic of Home Alone. There are some fun elements, but the core conflict doesn’t justify its existence.

When it was announced that Archie Yates would be starring alongside Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney in a sequel to Home Alone, optimism was high, as Yates proved himself to be extremely likable in the Taika Waititi directed Jojo Rabbit. However, director Dan Mazer (I Give it a Year, Dirty Grandpa) and writers Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell decided to take a simple and effective concept (kid battles dumb robbers), and muddy it up with mortgage problems, misunderstandings, and montages that feature an 11-year old named Max (Archie Yates) recreating scenes from Scarface with M&Ms and whipped cream.

It’s understandable why the creators avoided murderous thieves like Harry and Lloyd from the original franchise, because in 2021, watching two grown men threaten a child with mutilation isn’t ideal. Instead, they have a married couple (who have children themselves), played by Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney, infiltrating the house so they can get back an ugly doll worth $200,000, that they think Max stole from them. They need the doll because Jeff (Delaney) is unemployed, and they might have to sell their home because they’ve had some lean months, and will need to downsize. So, instead of waiting for Max’s mom Carol Mercer (Aisling Bea) and other family members (who left Max behind) to return home from Japan, they break into the house multiple times, step on Legos, and are almost killed by an icicle trap, that if successful, would’ve left them impaled on a sidewalk.

By having the main conflict be centered around a thievery misunderstanding, and attempting to make the criminals sympathetic, the movie loses its edge, and makes everyone unlikable. It’s a pointless exercise that takes solid actors, and zaps anything human about them. Also, the simplicity of the first film was its biggest strength, as Kevin had to battle two criminals who were trying to rob his home. This iteration gets too convoluted, and takes away from focusing on Max, whom the audience is supposed to like and support. Yates proved himself to be extremely likeable in Jojo Rabbit, but in this film, due to uninspired direction (or studio notes), he mainly reacts to things, quotes one-liners, and never gets himself into trouble like Macaulay Culkin did in his two films. Home Sweet Home Alone lacks bite, and sadly feels like a direct-to-streaming option that is nothing more than content. It’s wild to think that Mazer, a contributor with Sacha Baron Cohen, who wrote (or co-wrote) the scripts for Da Ali G Show, Brüno, Office Christmas Party, and Ali G Indahouse, directed this film.

This may sound like more dogpiling, but the set design never plays believably, and it’s always obvious that the shenanigans are taking place inside a soundstage. Shooting on location isn’t an ideal option for movies like this, as houses don’t have movable walls or lighting grids that can attach to ceilings, but it would’ve been nice to watch something that didn’t play totally fake.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2021 2:27 pm

    Excellent review, thank you. You’re right about the simplicity of the first one being what made it so entertaining. They were real bad guys, albeit stupid ones, and Kevin was a kid making his stand.

    Something else I believe made it entertaining was Kevin was a very unlikable child at the beginning of the movie. That gave the opportunity for him to change and see the difference in his relationship with his family at the end. It added depth to his character. These days I’m assuming Kevin has to be cookie cutter clean, like the bad guys can’t really be bad. Veruca Salt would be ruined in a 2021 remake!

    I’m sure the kids will love it so we’ll watch it, but I would have liked to have read this is a great remake. A shame that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    • November 11, 2021 3:42 pm

      Let me know what your kids think! I might be wildly off. I hope they enjoy it.

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