Chris Columbus’s 1990 hit Home Alone is a cult classic and we don’t need to explain why. Its subsequent sequels and spin-offs, although not living up to the image of the original, have their own places in the franchise. Now, what if we give you a story that, for a change, focuses on the doomed robbers and has a kid that comes off as extremely snobbish? Oh, and the housebreakers are ‘good’ family people. That is what Home Sweet Home Alone, directed by Dan Mazer, brings to the table.
The reboot of the holiday classic, the sixth part in the Home Alone franchise follows the basic premise of a kid, (here Max Mercer played by Archie Yates) who is left behind by his family as they fly off to a different country. However, it is not the kid’s story entirely. The film opens with Jeff Fritzovski and Pam Fritzovski (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper), a harmless, honest couple trying to sell their house as Jeff has lost his job. They don’t want to reveal this to their kids as they don’t want to snatch their home from them. Meanwhile, they are joined by their rich upper-class brother and his family.
Max, on the other hand, enters the screen by throwing tantrums and continues with the behaviour for quite some time. A misunderstanding leads to Jeff assuming that their costly family heirloom is stolen by the insufferable kid and hence begins Pam and Jeff’s adventure of stealing back what was stolen from them. This is precisely where the reboot differs from the original.
The film has something to offer to both adults and kids – from the OJ Simpson jokes to old cartoons on new technology.
However, in an honest attempt to introduce new elements in the iconic story, the makers have failed to retain the lustre of the original. Kemper and Delaney, despite being full of zeal and chaotic energy, fail to deliver the punch line even at their best. The characteristic torture sequences in the film stop being cartoonish and make us cringe, and a little bit concerned. We are confused because the robbers are supposed to be good people, then why the inhumane torture (sticking pins into their face, dropping icicles on them)?
Although Yates brings some originality into his character, you sympathise less with the 12-year-old kid, and the rest of his family members, other than his mother Carol (Aisling Bea) adds nothing new to the narrative.
The film finally ends with both the families finding their ‘Home Sweet Home’ within each other but it has no impact and is kind of meh.
However, what further disappointed us is that the film had the potential to walk out of the shadow of Home Alone, owing to its well-thought cast and the team of writers behind it. Kemper who was effortlessly humorous in The Office didn’t get a chance to explore herself much and the actor-comedian Delaney wasted his talents. Nevertheless, their shenanigans are fun (and painful) to watch simply owing to the raw energy they bring with themselves.
Writers Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell have already shown their calibre in SNL and director Dan Mazer, a frequent collaborator of Sacha Baron Cohen have given us iconic characters like Borat and Ali G. So, the film had its heart at the right place, backed with a very strong cast and crew.
The final verdict on Home Sweet Home Alone is it is an adorable family drama that you won’t regret spending one and a half hours on. However, you will be disappointed if you expect the new elements introduced in the film to leave you in splits.
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