Ta very unorthodox setup of the 1990 Christmas staple Home alone – parents so worried about getting a flight on time that they would somehow leave their bloodthirsty eight-year-old son behind behind – was at odds with its shocking success, such a big success (its gross $ 476 million would now be around $ 1 billion with inflation) that a sequel was therefore inevitable rather than logical. So Home Alone 2 quickly followed, a movie that envisioned even more unforgivable parental neglect, and then sort of a franchise too, with three more over-calculated mishaps on top of that, the true festive glow of the original fading into the twilight.
The prospect of yet another one the one, this time with vague same-universe ties to the first, created more anger than these things usually do since the trailer released last month, a sign of both the enduring fandom of the original and increased fatigue at the thought of revisiting and repeating a well-worn property. But moving onto Disney + in time for its younger target audience to watch, review and then see again on the big day, Home Sweet Home Alone is a surprisingly entertaining, if totally unnecessary, sequel, a tangerine where we’d expect to find a track. of coal.
What keeps the film from being just another robot-written recital is a surprisingly keen sense of humor, with a screenplay by Saturday Night Live duo Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell and directing by Dan Mazer de Borat, a more comical follower of the background. team of cameras one would expect from a Home Alone sequel. Their combined involvement also drew a funnier-than-expected cast, with Aisling Bea from This Way Up, Ellie Kemper from Kimmy Schmidt, Pete Holmes from Crashing, Timothy Simons from Veep and Rob Delaney from Catastrophe alongside SNL favorites Kenan Thompson and Chris Parnell. Critics so far have been mostly dismissive, but there is an admirable sense of courage in the film, as if those involved know full well that they are doing something that doesn’t need to exist but that they still benefit from it.
Archie Yates, one of the less gruesome things about Taika Waititi’s most gruesome Jojo Rabbit, is Kevin’s latest replacement Max, who is underrated and underestimated by his family, led by the beleaguered mother of Bea. Through the standard set of wacky circumstances, he is left behind as the family heads to Tokyo, but the initial happiness soon turns (a little too quickly this time) into overwhelming loneliness. Her anonymous, bland showhouse is not attacked by burglars but by a cash-strapped married couple, played by Delaney and Kemper, who believe Max stole a vintage doll of theirs worth $ 200,000 . Violence ensues.
There’s a flat, familiar cheapness to Home Sweet Home Alone that quickly reminds us that we’re no longer in the ’90s and over in the movies but streaming at home in a world of small budgets and low expectations. The color-enhanced Chris Columbus original, the McAllister house styled in aggressive reds and greens, a movie that screamed Christmas in every frame. Visually, Mazer’s follow-up is way more bland in every way imaginable, but no attempt to revisit the franchise was ever going to come close and feel like such a silly race. Instead, there’s enough fun to watch the enthusiastic cast go through the moves with a wink, engaged in the silliness and uselessness of the entire company. Day and Seidell’s script has a fun and free SNL vibe, helped by one of the show’s funniest MVPs, Thompson in an undersized role and most importantly Kemper, whose brand of manic exuberance works so well here, especially when sentimentality arrives, its serious scythe cutting the saccharin (unlike the first film, the emotional boost never really comes).
When the chaos of the final act arrives there is a mildly conscious side to the carnage, with both invaders commenting on the severe medical damage they face (a note that could have been played a bit more, in my opinion) but the pitfalls are a bit unimaginative and the delivery of Yates’ line a bit mechanical compared to Macaulay Culkin, with the slapstick becoming repetitive and ineffective. There’s also a predictable twist that softens what could have been the film’s most ingeniously dark addition to the formula.
It’s easy to understand the tired baggage that many come to the movie with, but Home Sweet Home Alone is a perfectly good, and at times genuinely funny, sequel that’s as good as it gets. Will we see him again in 20 years? I do not think so.