Max immediately has a ball while Jeff and Pam enter into a moral conundrum. Should they break into the supposedly empty house and steal the doll back? You can guess what happens next because you saw it the first time. Twice.
So yes, Home Sweet Home Alone is a long-winded build toward the same setup as the original 1990 movie from writer John Hughes and director Chris Columbus. And in that way, it’s an interesting experiment to show just how wretched the first Home Alone’s premise could be if it were made by folks who didn’t care about what they were making. Many of the same beats are here, including the hapless thieves being tortured by a Machiavellian demon spawn; there’s also a montage of the lad enjoying having the house to himself. And yet, it is all so perfunctory and half-hearted. There’s even a scene of Max reenacting Scarface, a movie too violent for this kid to have seen and too old for much of Disney+’s target audience to be aware existed. But parents will chuckle when he inhales M&Ms and whipped cream instead of cocaine, right? Right?!
It’s probably for this reason Home Sweet Home Alone consistently looked and and felt like a sitcom to me, including with the flat, high-key lighting and tired “punchlines” from Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell’s unfunny script—there’s even a fart gag while “O Holy Night” plays. But perhaps that’s unfair. There are plenty of sitcoms that can actually make you chuckle, including The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, both of which Kemper has starred in. Along with her work in Bridesmaids, Kemper has a gift for broad and slightly off-kilter characters, and she brings a similar affability here which pairs nicely with Delaney. One could easily imagine these two starring in a good if perhaps blandly familiar ABC family show.
Ergo, it must be something worse than a generic sitcom: it’s content. At its most base and soulless. The kind which knows it will win every time bored families click “play” on their Disney+ homepage, so when’s lunch? This leads to lazy attempts to mimic the character beats from 1990, but Yates lacks either the range or direction to actually convey to the audience he really “misses my family” when he just blankly says so to a stranger, and Williams’ “Somewhere in My Memory” plays over the soundtrack.
You won’t buy it, although this does give a curious if unintentional menace to the actual “hijinks” scenes, like where Max lights the much more sympathetic Pam on fire as she tries to reason with him. As the origin story of a serial killer, it’s kind of chilling, but as a family movie, it’s hackneyed, unfunny, and off-putting. And it will still be watched millions of times this month because Devin Ratray (Buzz in the original movies) makes a cameo and mentions Kevin, something that will surely be placed on a loading screen.
Buzz might be back, but believe Home Sweet Home Alone’s poster: “Holiday classics were meant to be broken.” Well, this one is good and smashed now.
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