Whenever Hollywood or Disney try to remake a classic, I do my best to give it a whirl. In some cases, it works out OK. In others, like Home Sweet Home Alone, it crashes and burns. And yes, this modern update crashed hard and burned fans of the original Home Alone along the way.
What's in this review
What is Home Sweet Home Alone about?
In the new Home Alone movie on Disney+, a new hassled family leaves their supposedly hapless child home by accident on their way to Japan. In this soft remake/sequel, Max, the hapless kid, has to defend his home against a down on their luck couple who are trying to get back a family heirloom that they think the child stole.
What makes Home Sweet Home Alone so terrible?
Where to start… where to start…
In a nutshell, the new Home Alone movie was terrible, and not in it was so bad it was actually good way, because:
- It didn’t know it if it wanted to be a remake or sequel, but the writers definitely set the movie in the same universe.
- Too many moving parts, including extensive back stories for the “home invaders” and minimal back story or development for the kid. I actually wanted the burglars to succeed.
- Kevin had a redemption arch and character growth throughout the first Home Alone; I pretty much hated the Max kid from the moment he started talking. The film spent so much time focused on the “bad” guys, it didn’t bother to explore why I should give a crap about Max himself.
- For many Millennial parents, the premise of potentially losing a house, financial troubles, and so on hits pretty close to home and can come across as tone deaf.
- The minimal ethnic representation seemed sort of racist and minimal at best. For a company like Disney that is all about including representation, it seemed sort of odd to present Max’s aunt as a shallow, border-line hooker/mail-order-bride. It just felt, sort of racist, especially since they seem hell bent on inclusion lately.
Easter Eggs in Home Sweet Home Alone to look for
Disney properties, like recently renamed 20th Century Pictures, like to hide lots of Easter eggs in movies like Home Sweet Home Alone. Here are some of the several nods to the original Home Alone in the newest Home Alone movie:
- Max’s home has a “McCallister Home Security” sign outside of the house.
- In Japan, Max’s family watches a remake of Angels with Filthy Souls with the famous lines from the first Home Alone. His uncle (correctly I might add in this case) notes that remakes are never as good as the original.
- Max draws a battle plan similar to Kevin’s battle plan.
- Buzz makes an appearance as a cop and does not show much growth as a person despite the roughly 30 years between the movies.
- Buzz explains that Kevin prank calls a child left home alone every year to mess with him because of the two incidents when they left Kevin home as a kid.
Where to watch the new Home Alone movie
Currently, the new Home Alone movie (aka Home Sweet Home Alone) is available to anyone with a Disney+ membership. At the time of this writing, that is the only spot I’m aware that you can watch it.
If you can find it else where and feel like commenting the location below, feel free.
Is the new Home Alone movie a sequel or remake?
The new Home Alone movie on Disney+ is half-sequel and half-remake. In a lot of ways, it as terrible a reboot as the Force Awakens was for the Star Wars franchise, which, itself, was a nostalgia packed, part remake of a New Hope and part sequel to the original trilogy.
As big fans of the original Home Alone, it was hard not to judge the new film against the original. Unfortunately for Home Sweet Home Alone, it fell flat in almost all instances. This updated version of the story lacked the nuances and magic that the first Home Alone movie had.
Home Sweet Home Alone – Macaulay Culkin?
Sadly, Home Sweet Home Alone did not feature a cameo from Macaulay Culkin. His brother, Buzz, does make an appearance in the new Home Alone.
During his few minutes on camera, Buzz plays a crucial role in some of the major plot points. When the police get involved briefly, Buzz, a surly cop, explains to the dispatcher that his little brother plays a prank on him every year where he claims a new family left a child behind like they left him.
I’m pretty sure calling in fake tip may be illegal, but I digress. In any case, Buzz does not take the reported child seriously and refuses to investigate the call.
The only other indirect reference to Macaulay Culkin’s character in Home Sweet Home Alone is in the form of a sign sitting outside of Max’s house. As it turns out, his family bought McCallister Home Security, with a picture of the original Home Alone blue house found in the intro to the first movie.
What the director of Home Alone had to say about Home Sweet Home Alone
Here’s a fun fact, Chris Columbus, who directed the original Home Alone, did not have many kind words to say about a remake of Home Alone. According to IMDb, he had this to say:
Nobody got in touch with me about it, and it’s a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. What’s the point? I’m a firm believer that you don’t remake films that have had the longevity of Home Alone. You’re not going to create lightning in a bottle again. It’s just not going to happen. So why do it? It’s like doing a paint-by-numbers version of a Disney animated film – a live-action version of that. What’s the point? It’s been done. Do your own thing. Even if you fail miserably, at least you have come up with something original.IMDb
Home Sweet Home Alone: Parent Review
It’s hard to not have prejudice going into the sixth installment in a franchise that should have stopped at single movie. Yeah, I’m not even that big a fan of Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.
Sure, I might watch it when it’s on TV in November or December, but I don’t go out of my way to watch it every year like I do the original.
And let’s just say, the Home Alone franchise took a steep nose dive following the barely tolerable Lost in New York addition, which at least still had the original cast.
Still, I tried to watch Home Sweet Home Alone with an open mind. After all, it is under new management with Disney. They certainly didn’t screw up Star Wars with their lack of planning, any kind of meaningful character development, or sensible plots… oh… wait…
In trying to view this new Home Alone movie as a stand alone, meant to introduce a new generation of kids to the fun of home invasions, I still could not find many – if any really – redeeming qualities about the movie.
In part, I’m sure it’s my age. I remember my mom disliking the original Home Alone, stating it was “too violent.” And while the violence of this new Home Alone or any of its predecessors doesn’t bother me, the movie, as a whole, did.
Meanwhile, my 7 year old daughter watched the movie and laughed at a few parts. Mainly, she laughed at the parts where Max was beating the crap out of the home invaders, but that’s the part the lil psychopath is supposed to laugh at.
And that may be Home Sweet Home Alone’s biggest problem. My kid laughed and had fun; as an adult, I didn’t.
Now before you say, “but its a family movie,” let me stop you right there. The most successful kid and family movies, like the original Home Alone, contain parts that are funny for adults and not just slapstick absurdity of a kid nearly killing two home invaders with homemade terror devices.
The “humor” that I believe they tried to inject, mainly in an obnoxious uncle figure, fell flat. Granted, if comparing to the original, you really can’t compete with John Candy’s improvised story about how he left his son at a funeral home once. Or that it took 6 or 7 weeks for the kid to come along and start talking again because kids are resilient.
And it is stuff like John Candy’s small role that helped make the original Home Alone a classic.
There’s more to it than just lack-luster adult humor. Home Sweet Home Alone lacked the odd charm of the original.
Of course, this is not a new problem. Every sequel to Home Alone became less and less charming and more like money-grabs of a dying franchise. Hey, at least that’s something Disney is good at. If it’s one thing Disney knows its how to squeeze the life out of a good thing like Cinderella II, Cinderella III, Belle’s Magic World, or the live action Aladdin.
Then there was the odd and completely unnecessary secondary plot. As it turns out, the home invaders are a mom and dad struggling to make ends meet. The whole reason they need to rob Max’s house is that they believe he stole a doll that has a substantial cash value.
I actually found myself rooting for them, in part, I’m sure, because I could picture being in their desperate situation. Which made me wonder, why give them such a back story in the first place?
I don’t want to emphasize with the bad guys.
Call me crazy, but part of the reason it was fun/funny to watch Kevin beat the shit out of the Wet Bandits was they were run of the mill bad guys. Marv wasn’t trying to send his daughter to school, while Harry had to keep a roof over his starving families heads.
Maybe that was there back story, but I don’t care.
Because they never presented the Wet Bandits as anything but bad. So yeah, watching a 10 year old psychopath beat them up was all good fun. And yes, Home Alone is one of the few franchise where the villains being one dimensional works in its favor. As soon as you start assigning them human values, it becomes odd watching them get tortured.
Max also had very little redeeming qualities about him. Yes, some people argue that Kevin in the original Home Alone was hard to like. But, he actually had a large amount of character development. He went from a helpless kid to a self-sufficient one who could not only take care of himself but fend off two bad guys.
Also, the movie too the time to develop his backstory. You could see how poorly his family treated him and could emphasize with him. With Max, you saw him just fed up with the noise and chaos and he camped out in his mom’s SUV all night. Then he really didn’t seem to learn much of anything throughout the movie, which made the character unlikable at best.
Finally, to end on a positive point, they did pull one thing off in the remake or sequel to Home Alone. It was sort of, almost plausible the rationale behind how they left Max behind in Home Sweet Home Alone. Not to spoil an already rotten movie, but they set up a series of somewhat plausible events, even if, each had major flaws. The reasons they gave included:
- The airline messed up the tickets, so the mother flew out early. For some reason, not one adult checked if Max was also going with her, which seems strange to say the least.
- The family left in a tizzy. When they left for the airport, the family was scrambling. I believe it was just supposed to be a normal last minute buzz, but it seemed forced and out of place. Again, not one adult thought to check whether they had all the kids or that they weren’t on an earlier flight?
- When the family called the police, Buzz, yes Kevin’s older brother from the first two Home Alone movies, informed his dispatcher that it was just his brother messing with him. Long story short, he never followed up to see if the report was true or not.
- Max knew his family left and didn’t care so he made no effort to contact the police. They even addressed that he feared his mother would go to jail for child endangerment if he ratted her out.
- Max also fell asleep watching cartoon’s in his mother’s car, which is why he missed the ride to the airport in the first place. One would have to question, would he have just stayed put even if he had woken up? The kid seemed pretty happy to be left behind after all.
Maybe someone working on the film read my post about reasons why Home Alone would not work in today’s world and took it as a challenge. I still think it is barely plausible, but it was still, on its base level, somewhat possible.
Children seem to enjoy it enough.
Lacks any kind of charm the original had.
Really didn’t like the kid.
There was too much back story for the home invaders.
Actually wanted the home invaders to win and sympathized with them more.