Home Sweet Home Alone Parent Guide
Pointing out how terrible your movie is doesn't qualify as meta-commentary; it's just sad.
Parent Movie Review
After a rough year, the McKenzie family are struggling to summon up any holiday cheer. Jeff (Rob Delaney) lost his job a few months ago and has been unsuccessful in finding a new one. Relying on only Pam’s (Ellie Kemper) teaching salary, the couple can no longer afford their home and are heartbroken at the prospect of moving out of the only home their children have ever known. They briefly think they have a reprieve: Jeff learns that a doll his mother left him might be worth $200,000 but the doll disappears after an open house. Jeff suspects that young Max Mercer (Archie Yates) might have stolen it while stopping by with his mother, so Jeff goes to the Mercer house to get it back. In a surprise for everyone, Max has accidentally been left home alone while his family heads off on a Japanese vacation, foiling Jeff and Pam’s shot at an easy break-in.
I try not to compare movies to each other too often, as I think art should be critiqued on its own merits. In this case, however, it behooves me to do so in order to illustrate the glaring story problems with this obvious cash grab of a remake. Home Alone (1990) works, regardless of its high levels of violence, for a few reasons. One is that Kevin is a sympathetic character. He is bullied horribly by his older siblings and his overwhelmed parents neglect him. We feel bad for Kevin, so we cheer for him even when he’s inflicting horrible pain on the Wet Bandits. The second reason is that we don’t feel bad for the Wet Bandits as they go through said pain. They are nothing more than criminals, albeit bumbling ones, with no redeeming motivations, so we cheer when they get their comeuppance. Where the writers of Home Sweet Home Alone fail is in making Max a spoiled brat and having sympathetic “villains” in Pam and Jeff. Max’s violent actions don’t feel justified because the audience sees him as nothing more than a spoiled rich kid with an attitude problem. Pam and Jeff, though clearly committing criminal acts, are sympathetic in their attempts to retake their property and save their family home. Watching Pam and Jeff get “punished” for this feels mean-spirited. Am I supposed to laugh when a mother’s feet get set on fire for trying to make sure her kids have a secure home, however ill-advised her methods?
On top of that, numerous references to previous films in the franchise are shoe-horned into this instalment, but most of them feel inauthentic and contrived. At one point, a character makes a joke about “remakes never being as good as the original” which just felt so on the nose that I groaned audibly. Pointing out how terrible your movie is doesn’t qualify as meta-commentary, it’s just sad.
There are some positives to be found in this mostly uncomfortable experience. There are quite a few good laughs, and all the actors are doing a great job. The first 20 or so minutes made me hopeful, as the movie does start out strong, but it falls apart soon after that.
The level of violence will be the main content concern for parents when deciding whether to let their children view this film. I would say it’s on a similar level to the original if that helps contextualize it. I appreciate well done slapstick comedy, but the sympathetic “villains” and very real injuries make for nothing more than an uneasy viewing experience, even for adults. If you’re looking for a family Christmas film, Home Sweet Home Alone is best left alone. There are better options for festive fun.Directed by Dan Mazer. Starring Archie Yates, Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney, Timothy Simons, Ally Maki. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release November 12, 2021. Updated November 12, 2021
Watch the trailer for Home Sweet Home Alone
Home Sweet Home Alone
Rating & Content Info
Why is Home Sweet Home Alone rated PG? Home Sweet Home Alone is rated PG by the MPAA for slapstick violence, rude material and some language
Violence: There is lots of slapstick violence, including, but not limited to, people getting hit in the face with snowballs and other projectiles, and painful slips and falls. A woman’s feet are set on fire. A man is hit in the groin with a sack of sugar. A man is hit in the head with a door multiple times resulting in a huge welt. A woman is shot at with a dart gun with pins stuck into the darts. A man loses a tooth after running into a tree.
Sexual Content: There is a minor joke about a man looking through a woman’s underwear drawer.
Profanity: There are some insults including “stupid” and “idiot”. There are three uses of terms of deity. A boy starts to say a curse word but stops midway through. In the subtitles, there is one minor swear word, but it is spoken very unclear and quiet, so it probably wouldn’t be noticed without the subtitle.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults toast with wine at a holiday dinner.
Page last updated November 12, 2021
Home Sweet Home Alone Parents' Guide
Why are Pam and Jeff trying to get the doll back? Do their motivations justify their actions? Can you think of better strategies they could have pursued to get it back?