Home Alone 3 was the first movie in the series to not star Kevin McCallister as the lead character, and it wasn’t all that well received. It was profitable, but barely, and certainly didn’t reek in the mega cash that the first two movies did. Instead of a theatrical release, Home Alone 4 went straight to TV, and was originally meant to be the pilot for a TV series. That didn’t pan out, but this movie does exist. I could sum up my review with Daniel Stern’s quote when he was asked to reprise his role as Marv – “It’s an insult, total garbage.”
There’s barely any other information about this movie’s production besides the basics. It’s directed by Rob Daniel, who was actually a well-known director in the 80’s and 90’s. Some of his movies include Teen Wolf (starring Michael J. Fox), Beethoven’s 2nd, and TV shows like Magnum, P.I., WKRP in Cincinnati and Everybody Loves Raymond. As for a previous Home Alone connection, well … he directed The Super, which features Joe Pesci. Yeah, that one’s a stretch. Sadly, this is actually the last movie he ever directed. He retired shortly after because of his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, and died in 2016 from complications, at 73 years of age.
I am not going to bother with holding back spoilers on this. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it. Also, it’s very hard to find good pictures or videos of this movie, so for some of the clips you’ll need to watch on the actual YouTube page.
Mike Weinberg plays Kevin in this movie. HIs brief career involved nothing but scattered TV appearances and a handful of TV movies. In fact, only a handful of the cast members have enjoyed a lasting career, so I won’t bother with the rest.
There’s French Stewart, most well known as being the weird guy from Third Rock from the Sun, who takes over the role of Marv. Harry isn’t in this movie, yet Stewart looks and sounds a lot more like Harry than he does Marv. Yeah, I can’t figure that one out either. There’s Erick Avari as Prescott who works as the butler at the mansion. He’s known for a variety of roles, including The Mummy (1999), Independence Day, a number of Adam Sandler comedies, and a wide variety of TV roles. He’s probably the most well-known celebrity in this movie. Jason Beghe, a well-known TV actor (he also appeared as a minor character in X-Men: First Class) plays Kevin’s father Peter. Clare Carey, a well-known TV actress, plays Kevin’s mother Kate. Last but not least, Joanna Going plays Natalie, Peter’s new girlfriend.
You read that last sentence right, Kevin’s parents are getting a divorce, and Peter is now hooked up with a very rich woman, leaving the kids with Kate. Considering how well they get along in the first two movies, and they act quite well as a team, this feels so wrong on so many levels. Also, two of Kevin’s older siblings are completely missing in this movie. In the first two, he’s got two brothers and two sisters. This time, there’s just Buzz and Megan. Yup, one of your childhood favourite characters is experiencing their parents’ divorce, and by all appearances, two of his siblings are dead and nobody seems to care. Merry Christmas!
I haven’t even begun to explain why this movie is terrible.
First off, the casting. This movie is supposed to take place after Home Alone 2, yet everyone looks and sounds younger than they did in the first movie. Kevin is 9 (he was 10 in the second), but he honestly looks like a 7-year-old. Also he’s no longer blonde. Buzz was on the verge of puberty in the first movie, and well into it in the second – here he looks like he’s 10. I mentioned this before, but Stewart’s character should have been Harry, not Marv. Somehow the writers were too lazy to go back to the script and flip his name after Stern rejected the role. As for the rest of the cast, most of them aren’t trying, as if they know this movie is trash. Both of the main women overact their emotional moments to the point where it’s annoyingly cartoonish. None of the kids put in good performances, although I wouldn’t say any of them are particularly bad by kids’ acting standards. Stewart feels like he keeps switching between phoning it in and overselling his reactions.
The only two actors who put any real effort are Avari and Beghe. They’re actually decent in this. Beghe does what he can with his character’s terrible writing – he’s angry at Kevin when he should be, he looks regretful in several of his quiet moments, and he’s convincing as someone who wants to be a good father. Avari plays a grumpy man quite convincingly. He does a good job at playing what is essentially the red herring role, but still knows when to lighten up and crack a smile.
As for the story, Kevin decides to spend Christmas with his father at the rich woman’s mansion, after being bullied at home by Buzz and Megan. What we get is a lame attempt at remaking Kevin goofing off at home, mixed with James Brown’s “I feel Good”. He’s dancing around, whether in the shower, in the front lobby, or spinning his chair away from the giant TV in his room while he’s watching something just to dance in the chair. What? This moment gets even dumber when the butler stands in front of him, looking annoyed, and then Kevin speaks into his remote to say “music off” … as if the music was playing this entire time. Even when he was watching TV. Again, what?
Oh right, the remote. The entire mansion is a smart house, where everybody has a “key” that is essentially a voice command module. It opens and closes doors and windows. It turns the lights on and off. It opens a hidden liquor cabinet, which the maid shows Kevin while his father and girlfriend are out. You know, because liquor is totally for kids. Not only was this kind of voice recognition nowhere near being ready in the early 90’s, which this movie is supposed to take place, but even today it feels over-the-top and silly.
Instead of being with Harry, Marv is now with his wife. So in the year since Home Alone 2, Marv left Harry behind, somehow escaped prison, despite not only escaping before, but he clearly showed intent to murder a child. To cap it off, he married a woman that he didn’t previously know? The same idiot who almost fell for Kevin’s exact same paint can trap in Home Alone 2, before Harry reminded him? No wonder Stern turned down the role. Also the movie implied that they met in prison … despite the fact that men and women generally go to different prisons.
Anyway, Marv and his wife now intend to kidnap the crown prince, who is scheduled to arrive as visitors just before Christmas Eve. What country is this royal family from? How do they know Natalie? The movie never tells us. Considering that’s the main focus of the plot, that feels like necessary information there. When we finally meet them, they’ve got British accents, but they couldn’t be the British royal family – none of their ages line up – the relatively young father is already the king.
It’s not even worth trying to dissect the plot further. It’s a complete mess with so many plot holes that I could write a book about it. So let’s talk about one of the most important aspects of a Home Alone movie – the traps. They are, well … this movie doesn’t actually have a lot of traps. Most of the “battles” between Kevin and Marv involve the home’s own technology. In their first encounter, Marv and his wife are scoping out the mansion to prepare for their kidnapping. They are lured into the bathroom, where Kevin activates the world’s most powerful shower. Seriously, the jets are powerful enough to send Marv and his wife flipping, and within a minute, it’s enough to flood the entire main floor. When not Marv recognizes not Kevin, he seems to forget his urge to murder the kid, and walks out, saying “I’ll be back”. And no, it’s not nearly as intimidating or iconic as the Terminator saying that line. Also, flooding the main floor doesn’t get Kevin in trouble at all … somehow.
This is where the movie starts falling into Home Alone 3 territory, where Kevin keeps battling the criminals, and nobody believes him. At least with that movie, Alex was dealing with international criminals. Here, Marv and his wife show up on multiple occasions with other people present, and nobody believes Kevin that they’re criminals. We also learn that they’ve got somebody on the inside, as somebody erased the security footage in their first invasion. That alone should raise suspicion, but nobody bothers to look into it.
But here’s the worst part. Kevin is never home alone in this movie. Not once.
In the end, we’ve only got two actual traps. One is a swinging pot, and one is a chain on the main elevator so that it gets stuck. The rest of Kevin’s “traps” are just using the house’s technology as a weapon, or a toy airplane. None of these “traps” are remotely funny either. The previous movies all contain traps that would be lethal, so there is a touch of cartoon physics allowing them to survive with nothing but bruises, burns and maybe multiple broken bones in Alice’s case. Here though, the cartoon physics well beyond what is physically possible. The pot causes Marv and his wife to perform complete mid-air flips. The shower floods an entire mansion in one minute. The revolving liquor cabinet spins so fast it would muster up G force in excess of 80. That would be very lethal. It also causes Marv and his wife to go flying dozens of feet when it stops, yet the liquor inside the cabinet doesn’t even shift. It makes no physical sense whatsoever. Oh, and Buzz and Megan merely tripping the two of them as they run away also sends them flying seven feet in the air.
If all of these problems aren’t bad enough, everything about the movie feels cheap. The music feels like a generic TV Christmas special, with no attempts at referencing the John Williams themes. As big as the mansion is, there are parts of it that look and feel cheap. The near complete lack of extras at the airport makes this world feel small. There’s a decorating the tree montage with an obnoxious pop version of “Jingle Bells” that’s so cheesy, you may feel physically ill watching it.
Everything about the movie’s ending feels cheap and undeserved. Despite leaving his wife and kids for some rich girl, Peter is welcomed back with his family in the end. The royal family also decides to spend Christmas with the McCallisters despite only having met them moments before. Natalie’s butler quits, while her maid is arrested, being not only the inside “man”, but apparently she’s Marv’s mother. All of this leaves Natalie alone for Christmas. All she did wrong was she gave Kevin a mildly intimidating warning after he damaged her mansion twice. Her maid betrayed her, and her butler didn’t do the security part of his job correctly, otherwise he would have seen Marv sneaking around. Is she a great person? No, but she really doesn’t deserve what she gets.
I cannot think of one redeemable thing in this movie. The writing is trash in every way imaginable. The traps are lame. The very idea of the story is both a betrayal of the first two movies and terrible in its own right. The casting feels completely wrong, and it exposes the lazy nature of the writing. The attempts at comedy are never once funny, yet it’s somehow so lame that it’s not even groan worthy. Like I said, it would take a novel-length blog post to talk about all of this movie’s problems.
I’m not alone with this. The critics panned this movie. Fans of the originals hated it. I have yet to read one single comment or review supporting this movie that doesn’t feel sarcastic. Even those who love Home Alone 3 and 5 seem to hate this one. In short, only watch this movie if you’re a masochist, or you’re doing a series where you’re covering all of the Home Alone movies. Even then, you’d need to be a bit of a masochist to sit through this one. Next up is Home Alone 5: The Holiday Heist. It’s not a good movie by any means, but it’s a longshot better than Home Alone 4 – some even say it’s better than Home Alone 3. Then we’ll wrap this series up with the newly released Home Sweet Home Alone. Depending on who you ask, that one is either mediocre at best, or the worst one yet. I’m honestly kind of nervous about watching that one.