Making the Grades
The best Home Alone movie? Well, if you consider the best time you've ever had at your dentist, you might get a feel for what I'm working with. This time, creator John Hughes has made some much needed improvements to his franchise. First, Macaulay Culkin is history, being replaced by a new misunderstood child, eight-year-old Alex (Alex Linz). Unlike the more vengeful Culkin character, Alex does his best to tell the truth and make good decisions, allowing the audience to at least sympathize with him.
Alex is a techno kid and amuses himself by spying on neighbors from his attic window. One day, while quarantined with the chicken pox, Alex sees an intruder in a nearby home and three other suspicious loiterers. He calls the police, but they can't find any trace of the people Alex saw. The next day it happens again. Another call to 911, and now Alex is in big trouble because no one will believe him. So he decides to get the evidence.
Using a few tools around the house, Alex straps a video camera and transmitter to a radio controlled race car that the lady he shovels snow for gave him a few days earlier. Using a television that receives the camera's signal, he drives his car through the neighborhood from his perch in the attic, providing the most entertaining part of the movie. What he doesn't know is that his race car is exactly what the thieves are searching for because it contains a valuable military computer chip. The chase is on.
Of course the whole episode ends up with the bad guys moving in on Alex's home, which is booby-trapped like a mine field. At this point the movie degrades into the slapstick violence formula that permeated the previous films. This violence, along with a partially nude poster and a couple of terms of Deity, makes for a movie that parents should view first. Yet, compared to the root canal-like pain of the first two Home Alones, this one only felt like a filling.