It’s mid-November, and whether you like it or not, the Christmas season is in full swing. People are putting up decorations, mince pies are being sold in Tesco, and Mariah Carey, Noddy Holder, and Cliff Richard are all currently on standby to belt out their festive hits.

Joining in on the countdown to the holiday season is Disney+, who today unveiled a new Christmas movie to add to the festivities. The movie is Home Sweet Home Alone, and if that title sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because this is a remake-cum-sequel to the 1990 family favourite, Home Alone.

Home Sweet Home Alone is directed by Dan Mazer, and stars Archie Yates, Aisling Bea, Rob Delaney, Ellie Kemper, Kenan Thompson, and Devin Ratray. The film follows the story of 10-year-old Max Mercer, who is accidentally left ‘home alone’ when his parents go on holiday without him.

But Max soon discovers he is far from flying solo, when a couple of burglars show up at his house. The burglars are after something very specific, which they believe resides in the Mercer homestead, and they won’t leave until they’ve got it.

Image: ©20th Century/Disney
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OK, let’s get the elephant out of the review straight away, because I know what you’re thinking: who the heck wants to see a remake of Home Alone? And that is a very good question.

Home Alone is one of the most famous and most beloved Christmas movies of all time. Every year, it pops up on television around November/December and despite being more than 30-years-old now, the popularity of the movie shows no signs of decreasing.

Those who grew up with the film continue to get a nostalgic buzz from seeing it again. Meanwhile, those who are discovering it for the first time find the slapstick humour to be a real hoot, and seem to fall in love with it.

So, the idea of remaking Home Alone might seem like an odd choice. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Well, the truth is, Home Alone hasn’t been broken for decades, yet that hasn’t stopped the film from being sequelised and rebooted multiple times over. In fact, including this latest instalment, there are six movies in the Home Alone film franchise.

The first two starred Macaulay Culkin, and are the two that everyone remembers. The third one was kind of forgettable, but not half as bad as people might have you believe, while the less said about entries four and five the better.

With the exception of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), all the movies are essentially rehashes of the original. And to be fair, despite the location change for Home Alone 2, it too followed many of the same story beats as its predecessor.

So, the concept of remaking Home Alone is nothing new – it has been happening quite regularly. The difference this time around, is that people are paying a bit more attention to this latest entry.

This new movie – which is both a remake and a (very) loose sequel to the two Culkin films – has been produced exclusively for Disney+ and arrives on the streaming service during ‘Disney+ Day’ – a 24-hour media event devoted to the Mouse House. Home Sweet Home Alone isn’t being slipped out quietly onto the service; Disney is purposely releasing this film while all eyes are watching.

Disney must have confidence in this picture then? Sure. It must also have balls of steel and a thick skin, because anyone who has seen the trailer for Home Sweet Home Alone will know this movie looks pretty bad from the preview footage.

And it is pretty bad. Home Sweet Home Alone is dross. It’s bilge. It is a complete waste of time, money, and talent.

This is a woefully unfunny movie, which looks incredibly cheap and seems to exist for one reason and one reason only: to trade off the success and nostalgia of the original. In fairness, the film does follow a slightly different path to Home Alone, so this is by no-means a complete re-tread of what has come before, but the new storyline is just rubbish and certainly not worth anyone’s time.

Image: ©20th Century/Disney
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Now, I should make it clear that I’m not against remakes. If a story is worth telling once, there is a good chance it is worth telling again, via a well-conceived reworking.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) is a good example of this and so too is The Fly (1986). Dawn of the Dead (2004) is also great, as is The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), and the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan version of Freaky Friday (2003) is a lot of fun too – honestly, it’s good, give it a watch!

My point is that remakes can be superb things; but Home Sweet Home Alone is not superb, nor is it good, or even enjoyable to watch. From start to finish it’s cringeworthy stuff, filled with dreadful dialogue, some embarrassing performances, and no sense of flair whatsoever.

The whole thing feels like a painful bowel movement. Once it starts you hope you can get through it as quickly as possible, while trying to ignore the discomfort along the way.

Image: ©20th Century/Disney
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The only thing this movie has going for it, is the somewhat bizarre decision to shift the focus of the story away from the ten-year-old boy who is left ‘home alone’. While Max Mercer might seem like the central character of this tale, this is not really his movie.  

Now this might come across as an odd thing to have a Home Alone film spend very little time with the central kid, but on this occasion it is a positive move, because Archie Yates – the actor who plays Max – is not right for this movie.

Yates is a capable actor, who has previously proved himself in a supporting role in the 2019 comedy-drama, JoJo Rabbit, but here he seems miscast and his character is quite irritating. I don’t blame Yates though; I blame the director, and the writers of this film who gave him such a watered-down character to work with.  

Image: ©20th Century/Disney

So, with Yates taking a bit of a back seat, it’s up to Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper to take up the slack as the film’s two would-be burglars. Thing is, they are not really burglars, and the whole plot point about breaking into the Mercer home is all just a misunderstanding of sorts.

However, misunderstanding or no misunderstanding, these characters are still subjected to various scenes in which they are essentially tortured by a child, under the guise of slapstick humour. Why? Because this is a Home Alone movie, and audiences expect to see a kid beating on adults for at least twenty minutes – it comes with the territory.

But does it make any sense in this movie? No, not at all.  

It is made very clear these two characters aren’t bad guys, so seeing them pummelled with billiard balls or set on fire is just odd. In fact, all the slapstick scenes in this movie are completely misjudged, and they don’t line up with the characters or the direction this story goes in.  

The violence in the previous Home Alone movies is sort of acceptable because those films contain villains who need to receive their comeuppance. This isn’t quite the case here, so essentially this is a film in which a kid is allowed to hurt adults simply because the script says so, and not because they are bad people.

Maybe this is me getting old and such, but surely this is not the right message to be sending out in a family film? OK, so I know the violence is somewhat questionable in the previous Home Alone movies too, but at least it worked in conjunction with the narrative; here it doesn’t and it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Image: ©20th Century/Disney
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As for the narrative itself, well it’s just hollow stuff. There’s no real depth, no drama, and no excitement going on here, and certainly nothing of any value.

Watching this movie is an empty experience. It is an example of how not to remake a classic and is an exercise in pointlessness.

Like most of the entries in the Home Alone series I expect Home Sweet Home Alone will fade into obscurity in the not-too-distant future, becoming nothing more than a footnote in the annals of film history. It’ll become the answer to a pub quiz question about awful Christmas movies, and that’s about it.  

If you are a parent of young children and your kids have never watched a Home Alone movie before, please don’t show them this drivel. Point them in the direction of the original, and maybe Home Alone 2, then move them on to something else entirely.  

This is crap. It is utter crap, and I really hope this is the end of the Home Alone series, although I fear we will no doubt be doing this all over again in another few years.

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