This makes me want to sit home alone and scream into a voice-activated pillow.
What do Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York have in common? They’re both festive classics. But like any good cow, the franchise has been ruthlessly milked dry since its first sequel, immediately lowering its standards in the third entry (featuring an early appearance from Scarlett Johansson). but exceeding to the most breathtaking heights of absolute lunacy in its ludicrous fourth entry.
To say it continues the tales of our favourite problem child would be a bit of a stretch, but here it goes. Kevin (Mike Weinberg) decides to go stay with his dad (Jason Beghe) and his future stepmom (Joanna Going) in their outrageously kitted-out futuristic mansion. Here, he comes head-to-head with an old nemesis at the rob once more; Marv (French Stewart).
Macaulay Culkin is the world’s idol. He brought glorious, painful justice to two sleazebags, ate a lot of plain cheese pizza and got to enjoy a high-class holiday in the Big Apple. The reason I say Macaulay and not Kevin, as is his character, is Macaulay made the film. Weinberg, bless his heart, puts in an enthusiastic performance, and at times manages to capture the glee of a young boy in a gadget-tastic home, but he’s simply not Kevin.
The main problem is, pretty much everything. The script is atrocious – why did they divorce Kevin’s parents? In a completely unnecessary move that is essentially u-turned by the end of the film (spoilers, woops), any intended emotional weight is lifted by levity of the disingenuous dialogue, which at times blatantly rips off the first two classics.
At the centre of the narrative is the mansion – revolutionary, magnificent, gorgeous, and completely f**king ridiculous. Controlled entirely by voice activation with tiny remotes which are connected to all aspects of the home (including but not limited to the TV, doors, shower, windows and a bookcase/bar which is activated by “Open Sesame”), if this took place far in the future it could be shrugged off. But it’s not, it’s actually set in the late 90s! Behold this feat of engineering, beyond its time to the point it should probably considered a wonder of the world.
The performances across the board go from mediocre to laughably terrible, with Going in particular taking a third act shift that feels schizophrenic rather than villainous. Stewart is a moderate Marv, although never even breathing close to the legendary Daniel Stern. At the forefront of the performances is the typical franchise slapstick humour, except here it is more slapshit. There’s a sequence in which the entire bottom floor of the home is flooded – not just a centimetre or two of water, but more akin to a baby’s swimming pool. Don’t worry though, not only does the home insurance cover this domestic disaster caused by her step son, but it is completely fixed the next day. This sort of insultingly assembled storyboard waves goodbye to the sensibilities of a mildly realistic tale, leaving you feeling utterly frustrated and angered by the clearly nonplussed filmmakers.
Did I mention that the family have a relationship with the Royal Family? Throughout the film we’re made aware that the ‘Royals’ are coming to stay. How do they know the Royal Family? Why would they be coming here for Christmas? It’s okay, worry not, you will never know. Some things in films anger me to the point I’m impressed, but this is just straight up, unequivocally stupid. God help me when I get round to reviewing Home Alone 5.
Verdict: Festive Jobbie
This review was written in partnership with 42 Level One. Check out their podcast on all things games, movies and TV every Tuesday at 9:30pm here – http://www.allgames.com/chat.