‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ Disney+ Movie Review: Home Al-oh No

One of the first exclusive projects Disney+ announced before the service even launched in 2019 was a new Home Alone movie. Through various circumstances, it’s taken two years into the streaming service for Home Sweet Home Alone to debut. It’s a good thing Disney has had two years to endear subscribers to the service, because this sixth entry in the franchise is the kind of crass franchise cannibalization about which the deepest cynics would worry.

'Home Sweet Home Alone': Archie Yates holds his water gun
Archie Yates | Disney+

Is ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ a remake?

Home Sweet Home Alone is officially Home Alone 6. The appearance of Buzz McCallister (Devin Ratray) and mention of his now grown-up brother Kevin confirms it. Yet, history repeats itself pretty faithfully in 2021.

Pam (Ellie Kemper) and Jeff (Rob Delaney) are selling their home. 10-year-old Max (Archie Yates) stops in just to use their restroom, but has a conversation with Jeff about his valuable doll collection. Already Max feels like a bully when he mocks Jeff for being a man with dolls, and says he looks like Frankenstein. That’s mean-spirited before any booby traps, and it gets worse. 

Max’s mom, Carol (Aisling Bea) and her whole family are traveling to Tokyo in the morning for Christmas. The airline rebooks the family on two separate flights. That is a very modern issue with air travel, and justifies how Max could get left behind in the shuffle. 

This is a flawed premise

The burglary plot is inherently flawed. One of Jeff’s valuable dolls goes missing, and he could sell it on eBay for enough money that they wouldn’t have to sell their house. Jeff believes Max took the doll, so he and Pam attempt to break into Max’s house to get it back. 

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There is a more mature way to handle this, but Jeff isn’t wrong. The whole premise is predicated on adults who can’t make a phone call to say, “Hey, your kid took something from our house.” Even if it’s hard to get a hold of people around the holidays, it’s a big reach that adults would resort to this. But, since they’re not otherwise criminals like the burglars in the original Home Alone, they don’t really deserve the slapstick beating they’re inevitably going to take. And if Max does have something of theirs, he should just give it back. 

When Max realizes he’s home alone, he does mostly the exact same things that Kevin McCallister did in the original. There are only a couple of new jokes, and some explanations for why smart phones and the internet don’t help resolve this situation more quickly. Parental blocks limit Max’s use of the internet, and some relatives have been messing with the security system so it’s no help to contact authorities. The fact that Carol doesn’t have a landline means she can’t just call home, and she doesn’t know her neighbors because they just moved in. 

Max is no Kevin from ‘Home Alone’

The new premise also throws off the balance of the film. Home Sweet Home Alone spends so much time with Pam and Jeff, with Buzz who is now a cop, and Carol that we don’t get a chance to know Max. What we do see of Max is disturbing. 

At one point, Max wants to take the toy donations at a church for himself. At 10, do kids not understand charity? That makes Max pathological, not innocent or precocious. 

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Inevitably, Max does booby trap his house for Pam and Jeff’s arrival. The climactic finale also reuses a lot of Kevin’s same tricks. The new traps Max invents are so idiotic, they ask Jeff to forget he’s breaking into a house, or to not notice that he’s wearing a virtual reality headset. 

‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ was sitting on a much better idea

The open house at the beginning suggests a more clever premise. What if Max ran away and hid out in the open house while Jeff and Pam were out of town? He could get into some fun trouble that way, and it would be a bit different than staying in his own home alone. Alas, Home Sweet Home Alone is content not to pay any more than superficial lip service to updating the 1990 premise

When Max calls back Kevin’s line, “Given up yet or are you thirsty for more?” Disney+ viewers are likely to take him up on his offer and switch back to The Mandalorian. If they’ve even made it that far…