Home Sweet Home Alone Struggles to Entertain

Luna Valayannopoulos-Akrivou, Managing Editor

Rating: ⅖ Falcons

When the original Home Alone movie came out in 1999, it was a surprise smash hit. The movie follows 8-year-old Kevin McAllister, who is left behind as his family goes to Paris for their Christmas vacation. Funny and action-packed, the movie shows Kevin defending his home from burglars by setting up complex and iconic traps, ending with a heart-warming family reunion. 

Home Sweet Home Alone, a remake of the original movie, is at best a sweet reminder of the classic holiday favorite. Disappointing with its lack of creativity and its outdated references, the movie falls short of the fame and publicity that Home Alone received. If there is one thing the movie has going for it, it’s original cast member Devin Ratray’s appearance as police officer Buzz McAllister. 

The movie begins with Pam (Ellie Kemper) and Jeff McKenzie (Rob Delaney), who can no longer afford to pay their mortgage and host an open house looking for a potential buyer. At the open house, Max Mercer (Archie Yates)— the movie’s equivalent of Kevin McAllister—points out a collection of dolls that belonged to Jeff’s mother, including a rare doll worth $200,000. A few scenes later, Jeff attempts to sell the doll, but finds it suddenly missing and assumes Max is the culprit. 

The original Home Alone movies were rooted in heartfelt spirit rather than logic.

Like in the original movie, Max wakes up to find out that he has been left behind. While in the original movie this scene made sense, in this quasi-remake of the original this scene feels awkward and forced because there isn’t much logical build-up for the scene. That same night, assuming Max and his family are well on their way to their vacation trip in Tokyo, Pam and Jeff drive to Max’s house to get the doll back. But, their attempt is cut short when a cop shows up, played by none other than Buzz McAllister. For Home Alone fans, this might be the only thing the movie has going for it, as the plot itself makes little sense. 

The remake’s reminiscences of the traps that Kevin sets in the original movie could have made for an iconic homage to a fan-favorite scene but failed to do so. While in the original version of the film the cartoonish nature of the robbers made it easy to root for their failure, in the remake, viewers are almost hoping that the duo gets through Max’s elaborate trials. 

The movie ends with a Christmas dinner with the McKenzies and the Mercers toasting to family and new friendships. But this feels disconnected and disingenuous to the movie—Max and his mom never virtually fight about anything, and no one in his family dislikes Max like they did Kevin in the original. So, the only real message of the movie seems to be how money can solve all your problems, since the McKenzies sell the doll and keep their house. 

The original Home Alone movies were rooted in heartfelt spirit rather than logic. However, in this new movie, the characters don’t seem to have learned any valuable lesson, missing the gradual development of unity out of conflict that made the Home Alone movies so timeless and special.

This piece also appears in our December 2021 print edition.