If you are looking for a fun, clever and pretty genuinely funny family film for the holidays, Home Sweet Home Alone might be just the ticket.
I must admit, I did not have high hopes for this film. In fact, my expectations were low as I, for the umpteenth time in recent years, wondered why the need to remake a still-popular classic. But while Home Sweet Home Alone is reminiscent of 1990’s Home Alone, there was enough comedy – in many cases, the film poking fun at itself – to carry this new version to a reasonably good reception. I was pleasantly surprised and recommend it to families this holiday season for some warm-fuzzy, festive viewing.
Home Sweet Home Alone is an adventure comedy deriving from, and largely playing on, Home Alone. The story – like the original movie before it – is by Mikey Day, Streeter Seidell and John Hughes, based on a screenplay by John Hughes. The fact that the original writers are on board for a second bite at the apple should inspire some confidence in the film given how well Home Alone has aged for many of us.
Max Mercer takes the place of Kevin McCallister as a mischievous and resourceful young boy who gets left behind while his family goes on vacation for Christmas. When a married couple attempting to retrieve a priceless heirloom 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 out. Hilarious new and improved hijinks of epic proportions ensue, but despite the absolute chaos, Max comes to realize that there really is no place like home sweet home.
This film is genuinely funny and provides for great family viewing. The stellar comedic cast lineup includes Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Rob Delaney (Deadpool 2), Archie Yates (Jojo Rabbit), Aisling Bea (Living with Yourself), Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), Tim Simons (Veep), Pete Holmes (The Secret Life of Pets 2), Devin Ratray (Home Alone), Ally Maki (Toy Story 4), and Chris Parnell (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues). I know, how could a film not be funny with these players involved? Although sometimes too many cooks can spoil the laughs. That was not the case here. Enjoy dramatic, over-the-top comedy from the get-go. Think: an extended episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kellie Kemper and Kenan Thompson’s involvement gives you a solid indicator of the type of comedy that you are in for: high-energy and hilarious. This is the flavor of the film throughout.
It was also such great fun to discover Devin Ratray’s return to this film, though I won’t give away too much about his involvement. Overall, the story subtly ties into the original film or otherwise pays homage to it in the most pleasing of fan-service ways. The attempted robbery motive is slightly different and gives greater dimension to the story while adding to Kemper and Delaney’s character motivations. But we are not here for the story, right? We are here for the mischief.
Mischief ensues in such a way that Kevin McCallister would be proud. What is great about Max’s scheming is that it blends modern means and classic contraptions. Mom (played by Aisling Bea) has blocked internet access, so we know that Max won’t get sidetracked by surfing the web. Instead, he must cook up some old-school entertainment. Max resorts to Lego building, dressing up in his parents’ clothes, video games, excessive candy consumption (sherbet is the new cocaine thanks to an entertaining reference or two to Scarface) and reading his sister’s journal. One of the modern twists come in the form of Delaney’s character unknowingly getting strapped into a VR headset. I imagine my dad would react in much the same way (though hopefully with less injuries).
I shrugged off my surly, why-remake-the-classics position early in the film thanks to the writing, acting and story of Home Sweet Home Alone. Pete Holmes’ character even cheekily remarks, “I don’t know why they always remake the classics. They’re never as good as the originals.” The tagline itself reads “holiday classics were meant to be broken.” It is this type of taking the mickey out of itself that makes this film so enjoyable. It celebrates the original while bursting with modern extras. It also balances these aspects while fully embracing the holiday spirit, as one would hope a holiday film would do. The beginning of the film is fueled by warm-fuzzy Christmas scenery – decorations, snow, pretty houses in suburbia – and inviting, classic music. It oozes nostalgia at the start but draws you into the present as the film goes on, reinforcing the importance of family and friendship year-round but celebrated in all its glory during the holidays.
I recommend this film to families and hope young and old enjoy it as much as I did. You can watch it from tomorrow (November 12) when it debuts on Disney+.
Home Sweet Home Alone is directed by Dan Mazer (Dirty Grandpa) with screenplay by Mikey Day & Streeter Seidell (Saturday Night Live). The story is by Mikey Day & Streeter Seidell and John Hughes (Home Alone) based on a screenplay by John Hughes. Hutch Parker, p.g.a. (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) and Dan Wilson, p.g.a. (Patriots Day) serve as producers, with Jeremiah Samuels (Stuber) serving as executive producer.
Home Sweet Home Alone will debut November 12, which coincides with Disney+ Day. Disney+ Day is a global celebration that will come to life across The Walt Disney Company with new content releases, fan experiences, exclusive offers and more.