‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ is the sixth edition where we get to see young Max Mercer (Archie Yates) inflict damage on his grown-up foes when he is forced to fend for himself after being inadvertently left alone at home.
Here is the bitter pill. Despite the film being about the mischievous and resourceful Max, who is left behind while his family is holidaying in Japan, the narrative focuses on the antagonists, Pam and Jeff McKenzie (Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney).
The McKenzies are a down-on-their-luck, middle-class couple, forced to put their house on the market after Jeff is unable to get a sustainable job. While their house is on display for potential buyers, they find a deformed porcelain doll left by Jeff’s mother, which they learn is worth $200,000. This is just enough to keep their family under the same roof.
But there is one problem. The doll is missing the day after their open house, and they suspect the culprit to be Max Mercer, the precocious 10-year-old boy who had visited them with his mother. Determined to get their doll back, the duo decides to sneak into the Mercer house with the intention to steal it as a last resort.
The entire plot seems to be lazily crafted, with forced scenes. This is noticed in the chaotic scene at the Mercer home before they leave for Tokyo. Also, when Max thinks that the trespassers are there to kidnap him, he chooses to show the prospective intruders what horrible designs his mind can conjure up.
What’s more, the McKenzies, too, aren’t exactly the couple one would be sympathetic with. Pam is a nag and Jeff is clumsy, bordering on being a buffoon. They are neither menacing, nor outright cartoonish, and seeing them get knocked about in the climax is neither exciting, nor funny.
Archie Yates as Max Mercer may not happen to exhibit any winsome qualities, but he is endearingly dorky, rather than just obnoxious or perversely homicidal, despite him putting the house in siege mode by icing up the driveway, buttering the stairs, and catapulting the packet of flour on Jeff.
Kemper and Delaney are both brilliant comic actors who share bittersweet on-screen chemistry. They lean into the farce with entertaining elan and are a delight at the beginning, but by the end, they get to your nerves.
The rest of the supporting cast are simply perfunctory in their approach.
Overall, this edition streaming on Disney+ Hotstar seems to have lost the sheen that was noticed in ‘Home Alone’, the original 1990 film starring Macaulay Culkin.
–By Troy Ribeiro