Dec 17, 2014

Review: Home Alone 3 (1997)

Home Alone 3 was the final film that John Hughes was contractually obliged to do with Twentieth Century Fox and I'd like to think that he didn't really care too much about it. For a movie with a kid planting traps for bad guys, there's only so much you can do anyway right? He is the only returning cast or crew member of importance to return besides director Raja Gosnell who was originally the editor of Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Good for Raja I guess who went on to direct a bunch of mediocre to bad movies.

Home Alone 3 features a whole new story with a whole new bunch of characters. Is this a reboot before the word became so popular in Hollywood? One thing's for sure, Alex D. Linz definitely has some pretty big shoes to fill with the powerhouse performances that Macaulay Culkin was able to pull off. You got to sort of feel for him because there aren't many people who can succeed in situations like that.


Genre: comedy, family
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Produced by: John Hughes, Hilton A. Green, Ricardo Mestres, etc.
Written by: John Hughes
Music by: Nick Glennie-Smith
Running time: 102 minutes
Production company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Hughes Entertainment
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 20th Century Fox, Columbia TriStar Films, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $32,000,000
Box office: $79,082,515 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Alex D. Linz, Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny von Dohlen, David Thornton, Haviland Morris, Kevin Kilner, Marian Seldes, Seth Smith, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Curry, Baxter Harris, James Saito



Four international criminals are transporting a stolen computer chip that can cloak a missile through an airport. To get through security, the chip is hidden inside a toy remote control car which gets mixed up with old Mrs. Hess' bag (Marian Seldes). The toy then ends up in Alex Pruitt's (Alex D. Linz) possession, leaving ringleader Peter Beaupre (Olek Krupa), Alice Ribbons (Rya Kihlstedt), Burton Jernigan (Lenny von Dohlen), and Earl Unger (David Thornton) scrambling to find where their prized chip is.   


The story of Home Alone 3 strikes me as one that tries to be bigger than anything before it. By doing so, it also fails completely. Who could ever think that Home Alone needed North Korean terrorists, US Air Force computer chips and secret spy technology? I'm sorry, but John Hughes really dropped the ball on this one. HO3 is also massively overproduced and lacks finesse and restraint. 

Take for example when poor little Alex realizes that there's someone who's broken into one of his neighbours' house. Alex goes completely wide-eyed and the music instantly goes to this super, suspenseful music that is anything but suspenseful. It's completely laughable really. It's the same thing for any sort of drama scenes which are meant to tug at the heartstrings. Raja Gosnell just doesn't know how to not go overboard. 

In terms of Alex D. Linz, he's actually not that bad really. He just has exactly zero memorable lines and he doesn't have as good a delivery as Culkin has. He's not a disaster though which I think he deserves some credit for. It's far from his fault that the movie around him is absolute bologna

Now the villains are another story. Not sure if this was John Hughes' decision, but the villain count is doubled up. That mean twice the fun right? You'd be wrong. You got the leader, the female character to bring balance and two dunderheads à la Marv Merchants (Daniel Stern) who all get their chances to take part in cartoony violence where they're instructed to be super expressive during scenes where they're in pain. There's never a single moment where you actually worry about Alex's well being and there's never anything even close to being funny with these idiots getting hurt.

The final match up of Alex vs. the bad guys is massively disappointing and just really embarrassing to watch. I honestly wanted to sink into my couch while watching Peter Beaupre and his band of idiots get hurt in ways that are less fun than in HA and HA2:LiNY. There's also more toilet humour which is totally uncool and huge lapses in logic. HA3's predecessors aren't the best examples of logic either, but they have things much more figured out than HA3 does.

What I will say as positive about Home Alone 3 is that John Hughes finds a good way to take the police out of the picture. Alex calls the police twice, but twice the baddies are able to get away before being seen. We all know the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf of course. With no police, Alex has to take things into his own hands with the help of his pet rat and parrot of course (don't even ask). I always thought the question of the police was always sort of weakly handled in HA and HA2, but it's not like it mattered anyway.

Home Alone 3 was originally conceived to be a TV movie and that's really should've been. It's far from being theatrical quality and I feel bad for any kid who loved Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York who went to go see Home Alone 3 in theatres. I also feel bad for the parents who had to take their kids because at least the originals were fun for non-kids as well. No amount of extended remote control car chases or singed behinds can replace the non-stop mayhem and touching drama of the previous Home Alone movies. 



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