Home Alone 4 Review
Times are tough in the McAlistair household, Kevin’s parents are separated, and his father is living with his new, very wealthy, girlfriend. As Christmas approaches Kevin wishes his parents would reunite, and after an evening stuck in the house with his tormenting older brother Buzz, wishes he were an only child. Whilst the first problem is beyond his control he comes up with a plan to solve the second, his father has extended an invitation to his children for them to spend Christmas with him, but they all refused. Now Kevin sees his chance to have Christmas as an only child by spending it with his father, away from the bullying of the rest of his family.
Upon arrival he discovers his dad doesn’t live in a regular home anymore, his house is a multi million dollar smart house, you want the curtains closed, the fire lit, doors opened or the vacuuming done, all you have to do is speak into the handy remote control. And it doesn’t matter Kevin packed light, as his dad was more than prepared for his arrival, he has a room full of every gadget a kid could ever want, including a fifteen foot video screen, it looks like he’s going to have a very merry Christmas indeed. Naturally however a snag seems to be arising, his dad’s busy PR business means he has a party to organise for Christmas Eve, with one very special guest - a young foreign prince. But that is set to cause even more complications than you’d expect, as a pair of ex-burglars have decided they need to make money fast, and the easiest way to do that is a step up into kidnapping. They plan to swoop into the mansion at the party and escape with the prince, and after collecting a hefty ransom be able to turn their backs on a life of crime.
The timeline surrounding the Home Alone movies seems to have proved irrelevant to the makers of this sequel, unlike the third film Kevin McAlistair is once again the central character, but for some reason he’s become a 9 year old again, and although it is clear he remembers his previous encounters with Marv – now played by Third Rock From the Sun’s French Stewart - his family seem totally unaware of them. Also, despite the title, there isn’t a moment in the film when Kevin is actually in the home alone, always accompanied by a maid and butler who simply stop paying attention whenever the plot requires it. The film was made for television, a fact that is more than obvious from the moment you start, and if you were in any doubt then the layers of good old American schmaltz will spell it out for you.
But things like a believable plot or character development were never going to be of any concern to the filmmakers, what people expect from a Home Alone film is slapstick humour, endless pratfalls and comedic injuries, a merry-go-round of alternating ridiculous and near fatal humiliations. Which is the real reason this film is such an utter failure. You could probably count the number of such incidents without having to face the problem of running out of fingers, and not only do they have none of the inventiveness of the original film, they’re all signposted so clearly even the film’s young target audience will see them coming a very long way off.
The Home Alone series has been a very lucrative franchise so it’s obvious why another instalment was made all these years after the last, but the lazy manner this film has been made in makes it clear that this was merely a money grabbing idea, and not a whole hearted attempt to reinvigorate the franchise. All but the very youngest viewers should steer well clear of this attempt.
The film’s made for television roots shine through all too easily here, the pristine image of DVD making that American TV gloss all too evident, and even the widescreen presentation doesn't help hide its origins. Although the film doesn’t show any signs of damage or dirt, the fact that its source is so obvious makes it hard to feel like you’re watching a film, this feels like a TV movie from start to finish.
It’s hardly surprising that the soundtrack isn’t too impressive, you don’t get a lot of TV product coming with storming Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, and even though that is what this one is technically you'll be hard pressed to notice. This sounds like a reprocessed stero soundtrack which shows it’s heritage by being rather flat, and the music seems to drown out the dialogue in places.This really isn't a mix designed for expensive home cinema set ups, and as such even when the action on screen gets chaotic your speakers won’t be working very hard to keep up.
Not even spotting the marketing opportunity to plug the DVD releases of the previous films 20th Century Fox have released a disc entirely free from extras, I would have thought trailers for the other Home Alone movies, if not a plethora of children’s product would have been a given, but sadly nothing.
It’s a poor cash in effort of a film which has arrived on the kind of disc it deserves, the film would have a hard time finding its place an even an enticing extra on a Home Alone box set, this should be filed alongside such other great fourth films as Omen 4, Jaws 4: The Revenge, and Critters 4, and with a bit of luck it will do to the Home Alone franchise what those sequels did for theirs.