Home Sweet Home Alone Is Fine (It’s Not)

Archie Yates as Max in HOME SWEET HOME ALONE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by courtesy of Disney+. © 2021 20th Century Studios.

Home Sweet Home Alone starts out slow but once the slapstick starts is when the film truly gets hysterical with the laughs coming nonstop.

Hunter (Tim Simons) says it the best when a remake/reboot of Angels with Filthy Souls is on TV. Why remake the classics when they’re never better than the originals? He’s not wrong. Jeff and Pam are not the Wet Bandits. They’re just parents trying their best. These to are as opposite as it can get from the Wet Bandits. But again, when the film was first announced, I remember seeing all the moaning and groaning online. It’s going to be like this every single time a remake or reboot is announced.

Jeff and Pam McKenzie (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper) are on the verge of selling their home. Unfortunately, Jeff just lost his job and this means the family might have no choice but to leave the only home they’ve ever known. During an open house reception, a priceless heirloom gets stolen. This heirloom could be the answer to all their problems. Naturally, they place the blame on a 10-year-old kid, Max Mercer (Archie Yates). Max and his mother, Carol Mercer (Aisling Bea), are new to the area. They haven’t made any friends just yet. Carol might be British but her husband is American and they decide to spend the holiday with his large family in Japan.

Max might be creative and resourceful like Kevin. However, this is where any similarities end. But again, once the hijinks start with the slapstick is where the film finds its footing. The gags are so hysterical especially with seeing Jeff and Pam failing at every angle. Until then, it’s just two parents bickering with each other. I’m not going to spoil the ending so you’ll just have to see the film for yourself. But again, when the gags are the best part, it says a lot about the film. Would I turn this film on again if given the chance? Probably not–not when Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York are right there! Rather than tell the film from Max’s perspective, they tell it from Jeff and Pam’s.

Here’s where this film goes poorly unlike the original Home Alone films. John Hughes would never shoot the Chicago area in Canada. This film might claim to be Winnetka, Illinois, but we know it’s shot in Canada. If you’re going to keep the film in-universe, it doesn’t escape me that they’re filming in Montreal, Canada. I get that there was a global pandemic you cannot get away with trying to make us thinking that Canada is the same as a Chicago suburb especially when Hughes and director Chris Columbus shot on location in the Chicago suburb. I live in Chicago so anytime a film claims to be in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, I can easily tell. Montreal is not, will not, nor will ever be Chicago. This is where Home Sweet Home Alone fails.

Thankfully, the film brings back the classic John Williams tunes. While Macauley Culkin might not reprise his role as Kevin McCallister, Devin Ratray reprises his role as older brother Buzz. Buzz now works for the Winnetka police department. There’s one reference in the film to the time that Kevin got left home alone twice. Though to be fair, the second time wasn’t at home but while lost in New York.

Home Sweet Home Alone will never live up to the original but it just goes to show that Hollywood won’t stop remaking classics.

Edit: I have some additional thoughts. As much as I enjoy laughing at the gags, the fact of the matter is Jeff and Pam are not Harry and Marv. Harry and Marv are criminals. The Wet Bandits. We’re happy when bad stuff happens to them. But Jeff and Pam? They aren’t criminals. They’re just a pair of parents trying to get their life back on track. Look at how the film ends! This wouldn’t happen with Harry and Marv, not by a long shot! I think this is the problem with Home Sweet Home Alone: they decided to make the robbers likeable instead of terrible criminals. This is where they failed at an epic level. But because they want us feeling sympathy for Jeff and Pam, it makes it hurt when we see them getting hurt badly.

SCREENWRITERS: Mikey Day & Streeter Seidell
CAST: Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney, Archie Yates, Aisling Bea, Kenan Thompson, Tim Simons, Pete Holmes, Devin Ratray, Ally Maki, and Chris Parnell

Disney+ launches Home Sweet Home Alone on November 12, 2021.

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.