Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)
Rated PG for the sheer amount of violence aimed at adults. There's a lot of child trafficking jokes, which I'm sure would artificially bother some people (I don't know why I'm jabbing so politically right now!), but it's a Disney movie. It's less offensive than the OG Home Alone, so keep that in mind when the adults are put through the ringer. There's also a Scarface reference that would go over the heads of too many people to even consider it offensive.
DIRECTOR: Dan Mazer
Hot take! I'm going to be serving some really hot takes today, so strap in. The bigger issue is that I'm going to be serving up hot takes really quickly because I'm really strapped for time. If this blog is shorter and more misspelled than usual, I'd like to formally apologize right now. But I'm going to say it: Home Sweet Home Alone is a far better movie than anyone really gives it credit for. I really think that the majority of reviews are hating on this movie because it is cool to hate something like this. I'll go as far as to say that Home Sweet Home Alone might be the second best movie in the series.
Not to say it's a perfect movie. Goodness, this is not a perfect movie. If anything, it drops the ball on one of the most important elements of the Home Alone franchise: the joys of discovering that there is no responsibility. Because Mazer is doing something kind of impressive --both saluting the original Home Alone movies while trying to create something different enough to stand up on its own --he has to make a sacrifice somewhere. That moment is the slow realization that the protagonist, in this case Max, is free from the oversight and burdens of childhood. He has instant free reign to cause sheer terror in a house without repercussions. While, as a kid, most of us signed up for Home Alone knowing that adults would be tortured with physical comedy in the form of brutal violence, the second best element was how Kevin was going to pretend to be an adult with goofy results. Max, however, was just waiting to be left home alone. He had his to-do list ready and he just flies through it. He doesn't really have that moment of regret, knowing that he's purged his family from his life. If anything, Max is already more world-weary than Kevin. He instantly figured out what happened and understands that he'll be safe, just given time.
But ignoring that weaker element, I like the fact that the movie doesn't have traditional bad guys. I'm going to go all spoilery for a new Christmas movie, but the movie ends with the good guys and the bad guys reuniting a year later to celebrate Christmas together. I mean, I'm an old man who likes tender moments and that ticks all of the buttons. The thing is that it's really enjoyable to see Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney slowly spiral down this well of desperation over something that is pretty silly. But to Pam and Jeff, they see what they are doing as the way to save their family. That's...actually kind of a big deal. From their perspectives, this rich kid stole their chance to save their kids' house and they just want what he stole back. While part of me guessed that Max never stole the doll, part of me thought that Max was rotten enough to do something like that because he thought it was funny. After all, the first confrontation between Max and Jeff seemed oddly confrontational, considering that Max was sneaking into the house just to use their bathroom. From Jeff's perspective, the fact that Max was acting remarkably suspicious sold the notion that he had lost his family's future.
But then there's also the economic considerations. One of the memes on Facebook, home to Boomers everywhere, is that Kevin's dad made way too much money. Stepping aside and stressing the detail that Kevin's dad, while rich, wasn't paying for a trip to Paris for a billion kids, most of whom didn't actually live there, it does raise this question of torturing the poor. The first movie really glosses over the notion that the Wet Bandits have any depth. We assume they're criminals because they were born bad. That's what the gold tooth is all about, stressing that the Wet Bandits are modern day pirates. They're presented as scoundrels and that's as far as we should think about it. But it doesn't really look like Harry and Marv are economically well off. I don't want to let them off the hook because they are actively criminal. But Home Sweet Home Alone makes really strong use out of the fact that Pam and Jeff are the modern American. They should be able to support themselves on Pam's job while Jeff looks for new employment. But instead, the insane wealth of the 1% reminds them that Christmas is a luxury for a lot of people and the rich don't seem to care about the poor. There's the dream that Pam has about their first Christmas as a family and Max never really has to worry about that. When Jeff's brother opens the rear gate to the SUV and there's a million presents, we understand that Jeff isn't doing anything wrong. Instead, he's just trying to correct a wrong that was done to him.
I like that Home Sweet Home Alone is a little more complex than the Home Alone movies. It's not like it's the best movie, but I genuinely laughed for a lot of it. And on top of it all, it returns the nature of Christmas to the franchise that was lost in the original films. It sounds like I'm ranting about this, but I unabashedly liked it. The trailer looked good and it delivered more than I had hoped for. It has an amazing cast, a solid soundtrack, and tells a good story. My request is to just give the movie a shot. Don't hate it because others do. It's not going to change your life, but it is a better movie than people make it out to be.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.