The original “Home Alone” was an early '90s slam dunk. Written and produced by teen movie legend John Hughes (“Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club”) and directed by Chris Columbus (“Adventures in Babysitting”), it became the highest-grossing comedy of all time until the release of “The Hangover Part II” in 2011.
It was family-friendly with just enough humor and story elements to keep both adults and kids entertained. Kids were drawn in because the film’s protagonist Kevin McCallister is an 8-year-old. That’s big given most kids prefer animation to live action.
Through a series of carefully scripted unfortunate events, Kevin is left exactly as the title suggests and must defend his home from burglars breaking into neighborhood homes left unattended during the holidays.
The movie was smart and inventive, and the performances by still-relatively unknown Macaulay Culkin, and veterans Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern were a smash sensation. While it wasn’t a “perfect” movie, it was fun and full of well-choreographed slapstick stunts.
Sure, it would take nearly a dozen clones of the two criminals to actually survive many of the dangerous booby traps they face in the film, but the visual hyperbole still makes people laugh more than 30 years later.
While the movie didn’t really leave room for a sequel, the financial success of the film prompted 20th Century Fox to nonetheless greenlight one as soon as the box office numbers began soaring. The second film performed well enough and is as funny, but that should have been it for the franchise. Unfortunately, three more subpar titles were eventually released.
Then 30 years went by. Fox got bought out by Disney. The franchise moved with it, even being placed on the Disney+ streaming service. And like all things Disney has recently acquired, they have deigned for yet another cash-grab based solely enough nostalgia to give a time traveler a nosebleed.
Nov. 12 saw the direct-to-streaming release of a new entry: “Home Sweet Home Alone,” but there’s nothing sweet about it. The only returning character from any part of the franchise is Devin Ratray to play his original character Buzz McCallister, Kevin’s older brother-turned-police officer.
A nearly beat-for-beat rehash of the original plays out; the only difference is that the kid being left at home by his parents, Max, is a spoiled little twerp with the personality of a cactus. His financially bankrupt neighbors think he stole a valuable antique, and instead of taking appropriate steps to investigate, they plan on breaking into the kid’s house.
Cue the unnecessary slapstick shenanigans. None of the adults in this film act with any kind of intelligence, nor do they make choices with any sense of logic or reasoning. Adding on to that, Max is an unlikeable character.
This feels very much like a studio that just can’t leave well enough alone. The franchise is not the cash cow it was back in 1990 or even 1992. The original two films have been — and will forever be — instant classics.
But that has been Disney’s M.O. for the last decade or so; if they can find some way to bleed money out of an IP at the expense of quality and killing the fanbase, they seem gung-ho to pursue it.
It’s a shame. But with that being said, both “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” are streaming on Disney+ and for rental and purchase on Amazon Prime alongside their inferior siblings.