Disney+ continues the trend of uninspired remakes/reboots in Home Sweet Home Alone. Dan Mercer steps into the director’s chair for the sixth film in the franchise while Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell pen the script. In this Home Alone reboot, we meet Max Mercer (Archie Yates), who is a mischievous yet resourceful young boy that is left behind while his family is in Japan for the holidays.
Meanwhile, a married couple known as The Fritzovski’s (Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney) attempt to retrieve a priceless heirloom they believe Max took and set their sights on the Mercer family’s home. It is up to Max to protect it from the trespassers…and he will do whatever it takes to keep them at bay. Hilarious hijinks of epic proportions ensue, but despite the absolute chaos, Max comes to realize that there is no place like home sweet home.
In November of 1990, I was nine years old and in third grade when the original Home Alone film arrived in theaters, instantly becoming a classic. Two years later, the first sequel came with less critical success but equal fanfare. However, the franchise took a turn for the worse in 1997 with Home Alone 3, which led to two mediocre made-for-TV sequels. The latest film in the franchise is not only an insult to John Hughes’s legacy but one of the worst films of 2021.
The script for Home Sweet Home Alone begins with an introduction to Pam and Jeff Fritzovski as they work with a realtor (Kenan Thompson) to sell their home due to financial trouble. Now I can only assume that writers Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell want to establish sympathy with the audience, but the overall angle does not work at all. It was impossible to suspend my disbelief for the couple’s reasoning and motives for breaking into the Mercer family home.
Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney are talented comedic actors, so I have no idea why they would sign on for this film drivel. Their performances seem to be inspired by Marshawn Lynch’s famous catchphrase, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”
Archie Yates, who showed immense promise in 2019’s Jojo Rabbit, fares even worse. Now, on the other hand, I didn’t expect Yates to match the comedic timing of Macaulay Culkin or have his charisma, but the script doesn’t even tap into Yates’s personality. This anecdote is surprising as the writers have some classic material under their belt, including Kate McKinnon’s “Closer Encounter” skits from SNL. Even my thirteen-year-old son found Yates’s character of Max to be annoying.
The biggest issue with the film, though, is the script. There are homages to the original movie, even some of the iconic lines show up, but it all comes off forced. The cameo by Devin Ratray as Buzz McCallister fails to go anywhere. I cannot but wonder if the film’s director Dan Mazer clashed with the writers on this one. An Oscar nominee, Mazer is also the long-time writing and production partner of Sacha Baron Cohen. Perhaps Mazer’s British humor and directing style didn’t mesh with the writer’s American style.
Given that the Mercer family is British, maybe the film should have been set across the pond, and the final product would have come across better. I’m sure the big question on people’s minds, though, is when we finally reach the point of the film where Max unleashes bobby traps on The Fritzovski’s, does the film pick up? The answer is a resounding no, as the traps are not creative or funny, and it is nothing we did not see in the first two films.
I usually try to go into remakes with an open mind. However, everyone involved with Home Sweet Home Alone should be ashamed of themselves for tarnishing the legacy of a holiday classic.
Final Grade: F
Home Sweet Home Alone is available to stream tomorrow on Disney+