Dec 23, 2014

Review: Home Alone 4 (2002)

Home Alone 4 was at one point titled Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House. Personally, I like Home Alone 4: Wasting Your Time better, but I don't come up with titles for a living. I'm glad that at the very least this was released as a TV movie and not a theatrical film. It wasn't really that much of a favour though.

Want to know why? Because the plan was to turn this movie into a TV series. The producers even had the nerve to approach Daniel Stern to reprise his role as Marv from Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. All the principal actors of HA4 were locked into contracts that would have them return for the TV series that thankfully never came to fruition. I'm glad people had some sense to not watch this movie which should've been clear from Home Alone 3 anyway.

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Genre: comedy, crime, family
Directed by: Rod Daniel
Produced by: Mitch Engel, Lisa Demberg, David Madden
Written by: Debra Frank, Steve L. Hayes
Music by: Teddy Castellucci
Running time: 89 minutes
Production company: 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Television Studios
Distributed by: American Broadcasting Company, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Canal+, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Mike Weinberg, French Stewart, Missi Pyle, Erick Avari, Barbara Babcock, Jason Beghe, Clare Carey, Joanna Going, Gideon Jacobs, Chelsea Russo, Lisa King, Sean Michael, Craig Geldenhuys

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Synopsis


Things are not as hectic as they once were in the McCallister household. Peter (Jason Beghe) and Kate (Clare Carey) are going through a divorce which hits Kevin (Mike Weinberg) pretty hard. Peter is living with his current girlfriend Natalie (Joanna Going) and invites all the kids to be with him during Christmas so they can get to know her. Following an argument with his mother, Kevin secretly leaves home and takes a cab to see his father. Natalie's house is the most incredible he's ever seen and things are looking pretty up until he sees his old nemesis Marv (French Stewart) and his wife Vera (Missi Pyle) prowling about.

Review


You read that paragraph right, don't try to adjust your monitor. Unlike Home Alone 3, Home Alone 4 is about the McCallisters again without a SINGLE original actor back. Macaulay Culkin is expendable as Kevin anyway right? Oh and Daniel Stern as Marv? French Stewart was cast, who's going to notice the difference? All that's needed is a dumb, clumsy guy anyway and everyone will love it. People love dumb, clumsy guys getting hit in the balls don't they?

There is no question that HA4 is one of the dumbest examples of how to handle a franchise. Not only does it take beloved characters and give them to far less talented actors, it has one of the most insultingly dumb scripts that could be thought up. There's no doubt in my mind that new characters should've been thought up because all Home Alone 4 does is slap fans of the originals in the face, multiple times.

Besides the dumb script which I'll go into more later, Mike Weinberg is an atrocious Kevin McCallister. I'm not sure how much of the blame goes to Rod Daniel for not being able to get a good performance out of pretty much anyone, but Weinberg can hardly deliver a line convincingly and he has the most lamebrained expressions on his face when he's supposed to have some sort of reaction. Home Alone 4 is probably the movie that exposed him as not much of an actor and he hasn't done much since then for good reason. I feel a little bad ripping on a kid this hard, but he's responsible for many of the failings of this movie.

Marv and Vera are walking disasters themselves, but more of the blame goes to French Stewart though. It's almost like he was directed by a three-year old who wanted him to make funny faces on command. Marv is achingly stupid and so far away from anything resembling funny. Missi Pyle actually isn't that bad though and she manages to slog through her material with some semblance of pride. She's luckily moved on to bigger and much better things than productions like this.  

Erick Avari is hit hard though and he's meant to be Home Alone 4's Old Man Marley. When it comes to his character, it's like the director of cinematography was also that same three-year old trying to paint him as some kind of mean old butler. It's a complete farce of an effort and embarrassing to watch.

Home Alone 4 in general sloppy and lazily put together. The cinematography is a joke even besides the half-hearted tricks it plays with Avari and there are some laughable examples of sound usage. Scenes where Marv and Vera are hurt with Kevin's traps are cut before any violence is actually shown on screen which is not how things are done in Home Alone. You used to feel every hit to the head before, but those days are over I guess.

Remember how there used to be the awesome montages of Kevin preparing his traps for the inevitable visit from Harry and Marv? The one in Home Alone 4 can hardly even be called a montage at all. He only prepares three traps and all of them are disappointing. One of them even involves Kevin reprogramming the voice-activated spinning bookcase/secret bar that's activated by saying "open sesame." I really doubt that any kid his age could do that and it's such a dumb trap anyway. So much so that it can only be believed if you have the stomach to make it that far into the movie.

It doesn't help that humour and sentimentality come to die in Home Alone 4. Any scene that is meant to be on the more dramatic side is always painfully announced with some kind of sad music. All of the music in HA4 is incredibly bad anyway and just adds to the hurt when you remember John Williams' beautiful score.

I don't know what else I can say. I've talked about Home Alone 4 enough and I want to move on with my life. What could possess filmmakers to make a movie like this is beyond me. I think it takes a special kind of evil and hatred for all that is good to be able to write a script like this and create such an embarrassment for everyone involved. The fact that there was never a TV series made from this movie must have been an act of divine intervention, a Christmas miracle if you will.

Rating


2/10