Dec 24, 2014

Review: Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)

I just don't get why anyone would think that people are still interested in a Home Alone movie anymore. Home Alone 4 is without a doubt one of the worst sequels ever put to film and it deserves every single bad thing ever said about it and everything that will be said about it. Although the goodwill of Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York continues to live on, the ship for new Home Alone movies has long since sailed.

I think that the producers of Home Alone: The Holiday Heist realize that as does ABC Family which broadcasted the film. There wasn't really a whole lot of hoopla made over its release in 2012, at least not anything that I really heard of anyway. This was just about ABC padding their 25 Days of Christmas TV lineup with an established franchise, nothing more.

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Genre: comedy, crime, family
Directed by: Peter Hewitt
Produced by: Lisa Demberg, Adnan Pjevic, David Madden, etc.
Written by: Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre
Music by: David Kitay
Running time: 87 minutes
Production company: Fox Television Studios, Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, Original Pictures
Distributed by: ABC Family, Sky Cinema, Canal+, etc.
Country: United States, Canada
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Christian Martyn, Jodelle Ferland, Malcolm McDowell, Debi Mazar, Eddie Steeples, Ellie Harvie, Doug Murray, Bill Turnbull, Edward Asner, Peter DaCunha, Evan Scott, Gordon Tanner, Bryan Terrell Clark, Chris Sigurdson, Pamela Iveta

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Synopsis


The Baxter family have officially moved from California to Maine without incident. Catherine Baxter's (Ellie Harvie) new job is the reason for the move and she feels a little guilty about it. On the surface, both her children don't seem to care very much though. Finn (Christian Martyn) obsesses with video games and Alexis (Jodelle Ferland) can't seem to put her phone down for a second. With potential ghosts lurking in their new home as well as a gang of thieves looking to break in, neither one can afford not to be a part of the real world for much longer.

Review


Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre try to bring Home Alone: The Holiday Heist into the modern age. Video games and technology in general play a big part in the story. While I appreciate this take much more than the idiotic "smart house" attempt in Home Alone 4 which was there just for show, a lot of the references to technology and video games feels extremely forced.

This is particularly in reference to video games. When characters are talking about video games, the dialogue sounds like it was written by someone who has no idea about them or is writing the dialogue for people who have no idea about them. I'm not sure which it is, but it's as bad as the awful attempts of people hacking in movies Hollywood has tried to do in the past. I'm not sure why Hollywood has such a hard time with tech, but HA:THH continues that trend.

The Baxter family is also quite stereotypical. I suppose I appreciate the flipping of the switch that features the mother with the new big job and not the father, but it feels a bit of an empty gesture truth be told. Nothing has changed about these characters in the least despite the modernity. The mother is a typical busybody, the father is that lame joke-teller who is absentminded, the daughter is a rebellious teen who likes shopping and the son has an over-active imagination. Despite the modern touches, the Baxters are firmly stuck in Hollywood stereotypeland.

One thing that's been done to Home Alone: The Holiday Heist is including a haunted house angle which reminds me of Home Alone where Kevin was afraid of the basement in his house. It wasn't a big focus, but that's not so with HA:THH. Finn is afraid of the possibility of ghosts in the house which is reinforced with a neighbourhood kid telling a story about how there used to be a legendary bootlegger who died there. There's even a little Paranormal Activity inspiration with the fast-forwarding of Finn's alarm clock, but it's all quite half-baked and over-familyized.

The same thing goes for the false Christmas cheer that vainly tries to make this a holiday movie. The term "Christmas spirit" makes an appearance and soon leads to a lazy montage where the Baxters go out to buy a Christmas tree and have a snowball fight. Besides there being Christmas decorations everywhere, this is barely a Christmas movie at all and it doesn't have even an iota of the Christmas spirit that Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York had.

What about the thieves? Well they too fall into stereotypical territory. Malcolm McDowell is the English-accented ringleader, Debi Mazar plays a weepy female thieve who cries about an old boyfriend and Eddie Steeples is the dimwitted one. Malcolm McDowell has become an absolute joke these days, but it still pains me to see him accept a paycheque for doing material like this. 

The most important part of the Home Alone series is the thieves getting hurt by the the traps sequence and The Holiday Heist gives a poor showing in that regard. The preparatory montage is pretty bad and the traps lack any kind of originality. It's a sequence of events that is no longer as cartoony as it once was which takes away a lot of the fun. There's a scene in particular that involves Finn fooling McDowell's character with a ghost that is unbelievably cringe-inducing to watch. 

There's never any real level of threat in Home Alone: The Holiday Heist. There are also zero laughs unless you count inadvertent ones and there's simply a complete lack of fun which is probably the biggest problem. There are individual elements that I like I guess, but put all together, HA:THH has nothing to offer. This is nothing else but a placeholder film for ABC that only has the draw of past greatness to draw upon. 

Rating


3.5/10