Home Alone is a classic Christmas movie from 1990 written by John Hughes. It’s such a classic that it needs no introduction. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. Home Alone 2 released two years later and while it was still entertaining, it wasn’t nearly as good as the first one. In 1997, Home Alone 3 released, featuring neither the original character nor the charm that made the first two movies work. At times it felt a bit mean-spirited, and some of the traps look like their straight out of a horror movie. Admittedly I liked Home Alone 3 when it first came out, but now it just feels lame.
Home Alone 4 released as a made for TV movie in 2002, and released on DVD the year after. It features the same character as the first two movies, Kevin McCallister, but none of the original cast. Instead of some big Christmas vacation that somehow leaves Kevin home alone, his parents are getting a divorce. Yeah, let’s ruin as many childhoods as possible, because fond childhood memories are for wimps.
(This is our star of the movie. He totally looks like Macaulay Culkin, doesn’t he.)
The first thing you’ll notice about Home Alone 4 is that it doesn’t have the Home Alone musical theme. It isn’t even close – it feels exactly like the cheap cash-in that it is. Home Alone 3 didn’t have the theme much, but at least it hinted the theme with the movie’s intro.
Another thing you’ll notice is that Kevin only has two siblings when he had four in the originals. You couldn’t find enough child actors to portray more than just Buzz and Megan? How cheap are you? They don’t even offer any kind of explanation – they completely ignore his other siblings.
Perhaps the worst offence is the casting itself though. This is supposed to take place after the first two movies, yet every single character looks younger than the first Home Alone. Also, while Buzz was a jerk to Kevin in the first two movies, he’s just way over the top in this one. He doesn’t even try to hide his antics from their mother. They turn Megan into the same kind of bully too – wasn’t she one of Kevin’s more “concerned” siblings? Kevin himself is boring in this movie, to the point where it’s more entertaining to stare at a crack in the road and watch it grow.
(The man in this picture is supposed to be Marv – the tall bandit from the first movie.)
The movie begins as Mr. McCallister pops by to casually tell his wife that he’s getting married … eight months after they separated. I’m pretty sure a real conversation like that would involve maybe a bit more emotion from his ex-wife, but she takes it rather casually. They also seem to be a bit too civil for a soon to be divorced couple. Also, wouldn’t dating someone before you’ve officially divorced work against your settlement?
Mr. McCallister invites the kids over for Christmas with him and his new fiancé, and even tells them that a royal family will be there. Which country is this royal family from? The movie never tells us. All three kids decline at the moment, but we all know that there wouldn’t be a movie if Kevin didn’t change his mind later. Oh, and I’ll refer to Kevin’s mom as Mrs. McCallister because we never learn her maiden name.
Later that evening, Buzz is told to babysit Kevin. Buzz has the nerve to … make him do all the chores. The sheer audacity of this is astounding. After doing several chores, Kevin pouts poorly – it looks more like he’s about to kiss someone than anything else. After his mother comes home, he wishes that he was an only child and storms up to his room. I’m sure that was just a lame attempt to try to make him look like Macaulay Culkin from the first two movies, but it’s about as convincing as his earlier angry face. He then decides to accept his dad’s invitation, then proceeds to dig into his piggy bank for the taxi fare rather than use the phone to call his father. Where is this kid’s resourcefulness? Kevin is supposed to be smarter than this.
We now see Mr. McCallister and his fiancé, Natalie, walk into her mansion. Thus we’re introduced to the most annoying part of the entire movie – everything in the house answers to voice commands: the doors, the lights, the curtains, the fireplace … everything. The house even cleans itself, making the house maid completely pointless. For a movie that’s supposed to take place in the early 90’s, there’s some futuristic technology here. Oh yeah, cars that didn’t exist until the late 90’s appear in this movie too.
Marv, who’s played by the French Stewart from 3rd rock from the sun, is seen spying on the house with his wife. I don’t remember the movie ever giving Marv’s wife a name, so I’ll just call her Marvette. There is absolutely no chemistry between them, and Marv looks more like Harry than anything else. Apparently, Daniel Stern (Marv in the first two Home Alone movies) was asked to act in this movie, to which he said,
“It’s an insult, total garbage.” I fully agree with that statement Stern. Anyway, Marv and Marvette plan to kidnap the young prince of the royal family.
Kevin rides to Natalie’s mansion in a taxi. How would he even know where to go? Anyway, we cut to something that shouldn’t be in a kid’s movie – Mr. McCallister and Natalie necking. Kevin is let inside, is introduced to Natalie and her workers and is shown his room. Admittedly Kevin’s room is quite impressive, with several big screens, an arcade machine, a giant bed and tons of space.
(Outside view of the mansion.)
Meanwhile, Mrs. McCallister looks for Kevin at home for an exhausting two seconds. Mr. McCallister then calls to let her know Kevin just arrived at the mansion. She takes it rather well, showing no surprise during the call and exhaling lightly. Where’s the shock and surprise? Show some sort of emotion at least. In the first movie, Mrs. McCallister was devastated to learn that Kevin has been left Home Alone, but here she doesn’t even seem to care.
Mr.McCallister and Natalie let Kevin open one present early. It happens to be a remote control airplane. OK, so now we’re ripping off Home Alone 3’s remote control car? By the way, every time the butler/security guy Mr.Prescott shows up, there’s sinister music as he just stands there all cold and everything. So he’s either with the bad guys, or the movie’s going to throw in a twist at some point. Either way, subtlety is for losers.
While the Butler is a jerk to Kevin, the Maid is always nice to him. She even shows him a hidden liquor cabinet, because you should always trust kids with the knowledge of the liquor cabinet when adults aren’t always watching him. We now get a montage of Kevin dancing around to James Brown’s “I got you (I feel good).” I’m sorry, but when did Kevin ever dance around in the first two. He goofed around and ran with his arms swinging in the air screaming with joy. Kevin also has several run-ins with the Mr. Prescott again – several very boring run-ins.
Marv and Marvette are once again spying on the mansion, while Marv tells his wife that he’s the boss. Somehow this turns into a full minute conversation about the fact that he’s the boss – it’s the most annoying part of the movie so far. After the maid leaves to do some shopping, the two criminals approach the mansion to get used to the layout. Kevin sees them running down the yard and calls Mr. Prescott for help. Mr. Prescott doesn’t reply however. Somehow Marv has a remote to the mansion as well, and enters the building easily. He heads straight for Kevin’s room, thinking it’s going to be the prince’s room. By the way, the arcade machine has changed from earlier; did they have to return the rented arcade machine and settle for something else? This movie’s continuity is less solid than silly putty?
Anyway, they head into the bathroom, where the bath is completely full of water. Kevin peeps around the corner and sticks his tongue out at Marv before activating the weaponized shower. Seriously, the water shoots out of the shower as if it’s a pressurized leak in the city’s water mainline. It knocks the two thieves/kidnappers right off their feet. They keep slipping over and over again as if it’s supposed to be funny – it isn’t. The only thing I’m laughing at here is how ridiculous this shower is, I mean…how are we supposed to take this seriously? The water pressure eventually breaks the bathroom door open, and FLOODS THE ENTIRE MANSION! Kevin’s trying to look surprised as the two thieves slide down the stairs with the title wave of water, but the young actor can’t hold his grin back. I guess he’s having trouble taking this seriously too.
Anyway, Marv and Marvette leave, and then Mr. McCallister and Natalie show up. Natalie has a panic attack as Kevin tries to explain what happened. Mr. Prescott denies the possibility of any house invaders, and has a childish “Did not” “Did too” argument with Kevin. Know what, I’m having a hard time believing that anyone could have taken this movie seriously. Is this movie a practical joke on the world?
Of course it’s all fine because by the afternoon EVERYTHING’S PERFECTLY DRY. Kevin sneaks into the security room to watch the security tapes. He sees that someone turned off the cameras while the robbers were in the house. Suspicious isn’t it!? We then cut to Marv and his wife driving away. Marv exposits that they have an inside man in the mansion. It can’t be Mr. Prescott, can it? Marv and his wife than have a sissy hitting fight. Who wrote this?
(The scene in this picture is physically painfully cheesy.)
After a mess of pointless scenes, we get a cheesy music video for “Jingle Bells” as Kevin decorates the Christmas tree with his father and Natalie. This is, without a doubt, the most painfully cheesy scene I’ve ever seen in any movie. The fiancé leaves for dinner with some friends, allowing Kevin and his dad have a serious talk about his separation. The rest of Kevin’s family is now seen decorating their tree. Mrs. McCallister then watches old Christmas videos and cries unconvincingly.
(By this point saying this movie’s cast looks nothing like the original is redundant, so this is Kevin’s mom.)
The next morning, Kevin discovers that the tree has been redecorated, and learns that the Natalie always gets it professionally decorated. Wow, that’s just sad. Kevin’s supposed to look upset here, but he looks as bored as I am. Either way, Natalie lets him open another early present to console him. It turns out to be a kid’s spy kit – I bet he’s going to use that at some point. Who should show up next but Mrs. McCallister and Kevin’s siblings? We get another greeting that’s far too friendly for two people who have been separated for about eight months. Where’s the tension and/or emotion? Kevin’s parents tell a story about Kevin’s stuffed bear as if they’re still close to each other. Could this mean that they get back together in the end? Of course they will, no surprises there.
Anyway, Mrs. McCallister and Kevin’s siblings leave. Shortly after that, Mr. McCallister and Natalie leave to pick up the royal family at the airport. Kevin then wanders into a busy kitchen where Mr. Prescott casually lets in Marv and Marvette, who are dressed as waiters. Kevin tries to warn Prescott, who simply tells him off. Kevin then stomps on Prescott’s foot and leads him into the … wait. Just a second ago the kitchen is full of cooks and servers, and now it’s completely empty? Hello director, hello continuity, anyone?
Kevin locks Prescott into the giant freezer and heads out to deal with Marv. No wait, correction, he shuts the door, but doesn’t lock it. Also with that giant window on the freezer door I’m sure someone would see Prescott and let him out. If he’s too stupid to open an unlocked freezer door though, he deserves to stay there. How many plot holes can you have in one scene?
We cut to the limo where we learn that the royal family’s flight has been cancelled – wouldn’t they have been informed of this before they would have left for the airport? How many contrived plot points are there in this movie?
Marv and Marvette are seen sneaking around the house as Kevin follows them. Marv then explains the kidnapping plan, which is nothing but stuffing the prince in a bag and lowering him out the window with a rope. They proceed to practice the plan with Marv’s wife in the bag, why? This scene is made worse with the fact that they’re constantly arguing about who’s the boss again.
Marv throws an anchor just beyond the door and closes it. Marv then lowers his wife somewhat roughly down until the rope runs out. You know for such a carefully conceived plan, you’d think they’d make sure the rope was long enough. These bumbling buffoons make the thieves in the live action 101 Dalmatians look dignified. Kevin opens the door and the anchor flies into Marv’s butt. Marv falls out the window and lands on his wife. Despite the utter simplicity of his actions, Kevin grins as if he did something brilliant. If this movie had any sense of realism, the metal anchor supporting the weight of a fully grown adult would damage the wooden door – but it doesn’t.
Marv and his wife walk back into the kitchen, where Kevin waits around the corner. He nails Marv in the face with a frying pan, flipping him onto his back. Wow, for a kid Kevin must have immense upper body strength to do that. Kevin then jumps onto a table, and this knocks two big bowls of sauce onto the kidnappers. The mathematical precision required to accurately accomplish such a feat is mind-boggling. Kevin then runs out of the kitchen, pushing through the doors. When the doors swing back, they smash the kidnappers and send them flying onto the stove, burning their butts. Ok, that’s just physically impossible.
Anyway, somehow a bunch of people at the party fall over, knocking down two ice statues. One statue reveals a shivering Mr. Prescott. In the kitchen, Marvette says,
“Marv, you’re on fire.” Marv replies,
“No, you’re really on fire.” Marv has a delayed scream reaction and starts running around. He wasn’t even on fire, his coat was just red. They don’t even have the budget for poor CGI flames? Even that would be better than only colouring his coat red. Mr. McCallister, who arrived just before this chaotic scene occurred, shouts,
“Kevin!” Again, the movie makers are desperately trying to connect this with the originals. No wonder Daniel Stern called this movie total garbage.
Of course Kevin’s in trouble, and they demand him to apologize just like in Home Alone 2. Mr. McCallister accuses Kevin of trying to mess up his relationship with Natalie. We then cut to Mrs. McCallister crying uncontrollably while watching “It’s a wonderful life.” Kevin calls her and they both lie about having a good time. Natalie then threatens Kevin that he will never see his father again if he crosses her. This movie’s not even trying to hide that Natalie wouldn’t make a good Mrs. McCallister the second.
The next morning we see Kevin setting up two or three incredibly lame traps without a montage. Even Home Alone 3 had a montage – two even. They’ve been trying desperately to try to connect this junk with the original, yet they can’t have a trap setting montage? Anyway, Mr. McCallister and Natalie leave for the airport again. Seriously, why do they keep leaving him like this? Every time they’ve left, Kevin’s messed something up, and yet they keep doing it. Shouldn’t they at least question Natalie’s house staff? Aren’t they supposed to be watching him? This isn’t Home Alone – this is Home with Two Utterly Incompetent Adults.
Marv and his wife head toward the mansion again, and Kevin spots them. He locks Mr. Prescott in the basement just like he did the freezer. He is without a doubt the most useless butler I’ve ever seen in a movie. The maid shows up and reveals that she’s the inside, um, woman. This plot twist literally comes out of no-where, makes no sense and just raises more questions. There has to be some sort of build up or subtle hints for your plot twist to work. Oh yeah she’s also Marv’s mom, making all those annoying “I’m the boss” conversations even more pointless than they already were.
Both Prescott and Kevin are now locked in the basement. Luckily Prescott has a cell phone, which is far too small for a cell phone from the early 90’s but whatever. Rather than calling the police, Prescott lets Kevin call home. Buzz answers, and does nothing but insult his little brother and hangs up. You sure you don’t want to at least ask why he’s calling?
Mr. Prescott then explains to Kevin that he never showed up with the buglers because he often naps on the job. Kevin’s mom then calls the cell phone, but before Kevin can explain what’s going on the phone runs out of batteries. Mrs. McCallister then calls the house, where the maid tells her Kevin’s not there. After calling Mr. McCallister, who says Kevin is at home, both parents realize something’s going on and head for the mansion. Alright I’ll give the movie some credit, this scene actually makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that Kevin’s siblings look rather calm as their mother races down the road, veering toward incoming traffic and nearly crashing.
After a while, Prescott remembers the dumbwaiter and sends Kevin up through it. How could the butler forget something like that? And why is it covered by a bunch of boxes? Again, this butler is terrible at his job. Has Marv’s mom forgotten about it too by any chance? After Prescott says that he doesn’t like Natalie or his job, Kevin gives Prescott some phoned in advice with,
“Life’s too short.” Remember when Kevin’s advice actually meant something in the earlier movies?
Anyway, Kevin reaches the kitchen with the Dumbwaiter, but continues up when he hears Marv coming down the hallway. He tricks Marv into looking down the shaft, and then crushes his neck with the dumbwaiter. Wait, wouldn’t that at least break his neck? If this movie was the least bit accurate, Kevin would be a murderer. Anyway, Marvette shows up and lets him out. Marv’s hand gets caught as the dumbwaiter lifts up too high, showing how truly stupid these two characters are.
Kevin knocks both criminals down with a swinging pot. It defies the laws of physics – while the pot would hurt, it would stop dead after the first impact. Marv’s mom then shows up and chases Kevin. He runs up the stairs as she takes the elevator. Of course, the elevator gets stuck half-way up because Kevin chained it earlier. The swinging pot and the chained elevator are the only two traps in the entire movie.
There’s a dumb scene where Marv and Marvette are repeatedly hit with the remote control airplane. Soon afterward, the criminals are defeated with the revolving liquor cabinet. Kevin rotates the cabinet so quickly that there should be booze bottles flying all over the place.
“Faster sesame”, Kevin says into the remote, which has the liquor cabinet spinning faster. When he tells the cabinet to stop spinning, Marv and Marvette are sent flying to the the main lobby, where they lay in front of the stairs. Organ music plays as if someone died.
As Kevin looks at his defeated foes, Marv’s mom grabs Kevin from behind. She is then knocked out by Prescott before she can do anything.
“Perhaps we should call the police,” Prescott suggests. Yeah, maybe you should have done that in the first place. Both of Kevin’s parents arrive at the same time. Marv and his wife then run toward the back door. Kevin chases them as his siblings run around the building. Somehow they reach the door before the criminals do despite the fact that they had a head start and ran relatively straight through the building. Anyway, Buzz and Megan trip Marv and his wife, who fly into a nearby tree. Yup, more baffling physics to finish off these lame crooks. Also, part of the fun with the originals is that Kevin’s family never learns about Harry and Marv – this movie ruins that completely.
We resolve the movie with Prescott resigning, Kevin’s parents re-uniting, and the royal family joining the McCallisters for Christmas. Natalie is left all alone at her mansion, and she has another unfunny panic attack.
Kevin finishes the movie with,
“I knew this was going to be the best Christmas ever.”
Ok, so let’s get this movie’s message straight. If your parents divorcing, all you have to do is try to ruin your dad’s relationship with his new fiancé and your parents will get back together? What kind of message is that? You’ll just turn an already upset child into a raging maniac. As a Home Alone movie, this fails. As a family friendly movie, this fails. This movie is just one giant pile of fail. To tell you to avoid this like the plague would be insulting to the plague. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to watch something gory to get this out of my head.
Two Word Review: Childhood devastator