Home Alone: The Holiday Heist Review

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It’s time to check out another Home Alone film. This one is actually the final installment in the franchise which is actually a pretty big milestone if you think about it. The series has come a long way and had its ups and downs in the process. This film’s decently good and I’d probably put it in the middle of the series. I really can’t say exactly where it is as my recollections on the earlier films aren’t great at times, but at the very least it isn’t as tragic or mean spirited as the last film. That one just ended on a really sour note.

So, the film starts off by introducing us to Finn and the gang. He’s a nice enough kid, but is completely hooked on video games and doesn’t like to go through the motions of attending parties just to adjust to social norms. I can roll with him on this one since just playing video games and eating are really some of the most fun things to do on the holidays. His sister Alexis feels the same way, but only because she is in her rebellious phase and doesn’t want to be seen with her parents. She just wants to listen to her music and go to the mall. Their Mom decides to teach them a lesson by…letting them stay home and have a blast while she and her husband go to a very boring party with a bunch of strangers that they don’t know. I think we can all agree who won out here.

In the Mom’s defense, she took Finn’s game controller so he can’t have any fun. He leaves Alexis her phone though so she gets the sweet end of the deal. The plan is wrecked when Finn finds another controller. This is either a huge plot hole as Finn had another controller and didn’t remember or it was actually a present that he opened during his roughhousing. In which case, I can’t blame the Mom for not assuming that he would find that. What are the odds right? Unfortunately, the new house that the kids live in actually houses a priceless artifact worth almost 1 million dollars and a trio of villains have decided to nab it. Alexis gets locked in the basement with the artifact so it’s all up to Finn now. Does he have the skills for this or is he going to have to call in his online gamer friend?

You’ll notice right away that the gadgets and gizmos that Finn invents aren’t quite as out there as some of the earlier ones. I’m not going to say that they’re realistic either, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction. They also aren’t as over the top painful looking as some of the earlier ones either. It’s a pretty nice balance if you ask me. The humor also doesn’t get all that gross or iffy during the movie. We do have Finn throwing rocks at someone in a way that makes the villain think something iffy is happening which is the furthest the film will go in that direction. So, on the whole the film stays fairly classy. Even the characters aren’t too exaggerated…for the most part.

Of the three villains, the worst is easily the Jessica with her relationship issues. Her main plot is that she wants to get back together with a guy who used to be part of the team but decided to leave. She’s always crying about it and while it’s not even supposed to be emotional…it wasn’t emotional. It was one of those plots that you could do without it. The 2nd crook was definitely the best one. The first two hired Hughes from Craig’s List because he has some nice credentials as a safe cracker. The problem is that he isn’t too bright and keeps nearly jeopardizing their mission by eating cookies and doing all kinds of things to blow their cover. Fortunately the main characters aside from Finn never seem to pick up on these things so it’s okay. I’ll also give him credit for doing a good job of making sure that he got paid extra once the ghosts were involved. Jessica had a pretty good line in the second half when she makes a Ghost Busters reference as well. Their team up by the end in forcing the main villain to renegotiate was smartly done.

Sinclair wasn’t all that great though. He has his wooden leg and stays serious throughout, but he just doesn’t have the same personality level as the new hire. That guy really went all out throughout. I suppose he did a good job of doing all that he could to get the painting though. The sob story behind it was interesting to say the least. There’s certainly nothing wrong with him and the guy was pretty passable. He fulfilled the role well enough even if the guy won’t be remembered for very long.

Finn was a good lead and probably one of the better kids. He seems a lot more reasonable than the protagonists before him even if he doesn’t seem to be as much of a genius. One big strike against him though is that he is scared of everything. He’s basically afraid of his own shadow and hides under the bed when trouble arises. You could make the strong case that pretty much the whole film is his fault although of course if he had not been around then the villains would have made off with the painting. It’s one of those cases of making the wrong call at the right time. Once he started applying video game logic to the real world he quickly improved. Finn also had a big line where he admitted that the only thing to fear in the house was himself.

Alexis is decent as well. She’s certainly a much nicer sibling compared to any of the previous ones. She basically let Finn do whatever he wanted when the parents were gone. Any of the older protagonists would have jumped at the opportunity. Of course, Finn wanted her to pay attention to him which was pretty selfish but she stayed firm. She was nice enough to make a deal with him though and was the only one who started to believe him in the middle about the ghosts. She was captured for a while, but did good during the climax.

The cast was just surprisingly solid in this film. Even the writing felt like a step up over some of the others. Home Alone is a film that just works really well when Christmas is around. The only supporting character who really failed aside from the girl crook was the kid next door. His humor was that he accepts whatever anyone else says at face value..which is nice…but I don’t think it works as well as the film seems to think. His snowball trap against the villain was also cheesy…even for this film. I don’t see a grown adult getting knocked out by a bunch of snowballs. Call me crazy, but I’m just not buying it one bit.

The gamer dude was pretty cool though. When he admitted that he was probably only going to be online for another 8-10 years, the statement was both tragic and realistic. If he never gets up from the video games and keeps up his unhealthy eating habits, then of course he isn’t going to last long. Still, he helped give Finn pointers and even got the parents involved when push came to shove. He was willing to go through any inconvenience if it meant helping Finn out. He did the gamer dudes proud and while at first you think he is just going to be an annoying character, he actually ends up being pretty good.

If there is a big scene that stretches disbelief though, it’s when the family comes back home and doesn’t notice that people were inside. Finn placed a sticker on the door that would rip if someone opened it…and it was ripped. You could make the case that it was wind, but since the house was closed that seems unlikely. Finn then points out that 2 Gingerbread Men are missing when they were there before leaving, but the Mom just suspects that he probably ate them in the sneak. Finn really did everything he could to prove that people were there, but even that didn’t work. I don’t know what else to tell him then since his plan was actually the best out of all the main characters. A shame that it didn’t work, but considering that his Dad also begins to get afraid of the dark and is terrified all night, I suppose it was all futile from the start.

On a last note, I should mention that the party in the mountains was just odd. They were going to be stranded there for days? Why was the party on the mountain anyway? The whole situation just seemed rather crazy and the Mom saying that he can fire her if he likes isn’t a great way to start your speech which involved insulting that person. It was definitely a strange state of affairs, but we needed some reason for the parents to be away from home and this works as well as any.

Overall, This Home Alone film was actually pretty good. It may not be amazing or anything like that, but I think it did really well considering the genres and what the film is trying to be. I won’t say that it takes this premise to its peak as you could definitely make it even better, but I was certainly satisfied through and through. The series got to end on a high note and that’s more than you can say for most. Whether you’ve seen the older films or not, I would definitely recommend checking this film out. I think you’ll be quite surprised after finishing it and if not…at least it’ll get you in the mood for Gingerbread cookies since they looked pretty crispy here.

Overall 7/10

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Home Alone 4 Review

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It’s time to take a look at the next Home Alone film. Kevin’s back and we already know how good he is at stopping crooks. The problem is that the crooks do a good job of stopping themselves as it is and Kevin doesn’t have as much nerve as you’d think. It’s a solid film that is bogged down by a few elements like the villains and the unfortunate ending. There are less iffy jokes like in Home Alone 3 though so that’s a nice improvement.

Kevin is getting ready for Christmas, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll be a good one. His parents filed for divorced and his Dad immediately found the rebound character and intends to marry her as soon as possible. He wants Kevin and his two siblings to spend Christmas at his house, but the Mom doesn’t approve. Ultimately, she leaves it up to Kevin though and initially he chooses to spend Christmas with her. She then makes the really odd decision of telling Kevin to stay with his older brother for a while while she gets some errands done. Kevin tells her that he’s going to get bullied a lot, but she ignores him and leaves. Well…Kevin gets humiliated, lids slammed on him, and a whole lot of other stuff off screen and the Mom’s only response to this is to tell Kevin to go to his room and think about how much worse it could have been. Kevin imagines it all right and decides that instead of having a terrible Christmas over there, he’ll visit his Dad.

This is where the plot starts to get a little obvious and unfortunate, but lets continue. The Dad is now with a super rich soon to be step mom who is basically perfect. She has a large game room, personal attendants for everything, and the house is fully electronic. You just say something and the house will listen. Lets just add in the names so it’s easier. Kate = Mom. Natalie = Step Mom. Peter = Dad. So, Natalie is not just super rich and more fashionable than Kate, but she’s also a nicer person. Her only flaw is that she’s super successful and has to go to a lot of meetings and parties. That’s fine though, it pays the bills and helps keep them rich right? Kevin doesn’t approve though and has a bad attitude the whole time.

Marv returns from the first film and brings alone Vera to rob the place. Kevin has to stop them himself since nobody will believe him, but he does it in the worst ways possible to the point where you can’t sympathize with him. If we’re being honest, we all knew how the film was going to end from the start. Natalie would lose out since Kate has to win and the family would get back together again. It all happens as expected, but you just feel bad for Natalie. Lets think about all of the examples from the top.

Kate allowed Kevin to be bullied and was not apologetic about it at all. She wasn’t being nice to Kevin during Christmas time and her plans for Christmas were rather terrible. Meanwhile, Natalie wasn’t expecting Kevin since he declined the invitation and was ready to have a fun night with Peter, but Kevin just walks in uninvited. All right….that may have wrecked Christmas to an extent, but Natalie quickly shifts gears without batting an eye and gives Kevin a great welcome. The day is going perfectly and while Kevin’s a little ungrateful about Natalie and Peter having to leave, he lets them go. When they get back…Kevin has completely wrecked their multi million dollar mansion by flooding the entire thing with water. He did it to stop the crooks, but did he have to be so extreme? Seriously…millions of dollars gone in the blink of an eye. He ruined the entire mansion.

This is already reason enough for Natalie to get Kevin out of the house for good. Instead, she chooses to forgive and forget. This time, the party is at her house so she gets people to quickly fix it up as best they can and hopes for no disasters this time. That’s not in Kevin’s game plan though as he breaks the windows and makes a loud commotion. He freezes the butler and nearly destroys him. Next, Kevin wrecks the dinner as he throws everything at the villains, which leads to a big fall for all of the guests and things shatter. The party is completely ruined and once again, Kevin should have planned things out better.

Natalie is very upset by this point, but she is completely justified in it. It’s not as if she goes off the rails and hits Kevin or anything like that, but she finally tells him that one more “accident” like that and he’ll have to leave. That’s reasonable right? No, the film makes it a point to say that she is the villain and we should be sympathizing with Kevin right now. No, I was sympathizing with Natalie. She was being a good sport the whole time and even helped with putting the tree up. It got taken down because she had a professional company already on the way to put up their own, but that’s not a big deal. Her very small slights against Kevin were nothing compared to what he did and they weren’t even intentional. She then had to endure a painful conversation between Kate and Peter as they talk about how much fun it used to be when they were married and the old days with Kevin. Is that really a good topic to talk about in front of your new fiancee? Peter’s definitely unlikable, but more on that later.

As you can tell, Natalie had to put up with a lot. The ending just makes it even worse as all of the characters gang up on her. First, Peter decides to break up with Natalie because he wants to move back with his wife. This shows just how petty and superficial Peter is. He was glad to be with her for the money and the late night fun that they had. Once he had enough of that, he just dumped her. I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me. We’re supposed to be on this guy’s side? No way! He has the delicacy and manners of James Bond if he’s going to be like that and the film gives no indication that Natalie was not a good person at all prior to this. She was a very nice character and it just gives you the impression that Peter was using her the whole time. He got what he wanted and got out.

The next big diaster was that Natalie’s butler decided to quit. He had a very well paying job and a nice boss. Natalie was always reasonable and it’s not as if the butler had a whole lot to do. Still, he quits because Kevin tells him that he should. Natalie’s other butler turned out to be a crook as well so now she has no main employees to watch the mansion. It can’t get worse can it? I’m afraid it can as a subplot in the film was that the royal family was coming over. This was super important for Natalie since it would benefit her company quite a lot and she really needed this contract. Well, that’s out, since the prince wants to have Christmas over at Kevin’s house instead.

Lets recap. Natalie had her ultra rich mansion ruined, She had her party completely sabotaged, She lost her reputation, She lost her soon to be married boyfriend, and she lost her staff. You’re supposed to be thrilled at this “happy” ending, but it was really all just in bad taste. She was easily the best character in this film, but she ended up getting a raw deal anyway. I could go on and on and on about how she was the secret hero here and how the film’s ending is very tragic, but you get the point. Over half of this review was just on that after all.

That’s part of the reason why I couldn’t stand Kate and Peter. Peter’s obvious so we don’t need to talk about him anymore. Kate is just as bad as she is completely okay with bullying and she makes life as tough as possible for Natalie. Busting into the house uninvited was definitely not good manners and then trying to say that Kevin’s past Christmases were better is just hogwash. She doesn’t even cope well as she just spends her Christmas Eve crying in front of the TV. She’s not a good character whatsoever. Kevin’s two siblings aren’t good either as they are even more extreme than usual. They were total bullies and I didn’t buy their “suddenly nice” routine at the end. Even when Kevin was in actual danger and called for help, the brother just laughed at him, insulted him, and then hung up. There was quite a lot of bullying and people being generally mean in this film.

Kevin’s not exempt though as he’s just not a nice guy. He immediately goes into areas where he’s not allowed too just to spite everyone. He has the run of the entire mansion aside from one room so what does Kevin do? He immediately goes into that room. He panics a lot and is scared of the villains even after he was just trash talking. He goes through a ton of personality shifts the entire time and you just have to wonder what his plan is. Half of the time he doesn’t seem to know himself. He’s definitely very unlikable and comes off as an ingrate the whole time.

The villains were pretty bad as well. The film went a too far with how goofy they were. They just kept tripping and slipping up at every opportunity. The girl villain seemed as if she was always chewing on something and the guy would just get beat up by everything. Any scene with those two was a little hard to watch so I was always glad to see them not show up. They didn’t have a major role here so that was good. The slapstick definitely looks very painful here as per usual. The villains should have died multiple times, but they keep on going. At least the butler got to help a bit unlike that old lady from the last film who was heavily hinted to do something at some point, but never got around to it. It’s more of a mild consolation than anything though.

Some of the dialogue can be quite forced in the film. Kevin has conversations with his parents about their divorce and offers up his worldly advice, but then he’ll go back to being a very unintelligent kid after that. He is a very inconsistent main character and after a while you’ll start to realize that the writers just didn’t know what to do with him. It’s definitely cheesy and the parents getting back together at the end was more tragic than happy.

Overall, Home Alone 4 was a fun film. For the most part, it was even better than 3 and I was enjoying it quite a bit. It may be silly at times, but the other parts were written well. Unfortunately, the ending kind of wrecked it for me. I thought I would be giving it a solid 7, but the more I wrote this review, the more that I realized that would not be possible. The ending is just way too mean spirited and the film got its protagonists mixed up. It doesn’t really leave you with a “feels good” feeling at the end so I actually won’t recommend it. 90% of it is pretty solid, but the other 10% is enough to knock it back out. I suppose it breaks even, but just barely.

Overall 5/10

Home Alone 3 Review

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It’s been a while since I got to see a Home Alone film so it’s nice to revisit this film. It’s definitely an enjoyable film although it goes for enough poorly written cliches to keep it down a star. This film gets a lot of other things right though, like having a serious tone in the beginning that slowly transitions the villains into comic relief to the point where you’ll barely remember the times when they were tough.

The film starts off with a very somber beginning. The villains infiltrate an installation and grab a computer chip. They are to bring it to a buyer for a lot of money since the chip makes missiles undetectable by radar. The government who possesses this technology would have a great advantage in war. The problem is that one of the villains swaps bags with an elderly lady by mistake and she happens to be the next door neighbor to Alex, the local genius. Alex quickly figures out that he cannot let the chip get into the wrong hands so he will have to make some traps to keep the crooks out. Can he do this or is this a task that is too much for a little kid?

I do like the fact that Alex figures out who the villains are almost instantly and also figures out what they’re after. It feels like most main characters take forever to put the pieces together. Since he is supposed to be a genius, it makes sense that he would be so smart. Unfortunately, I can’t say that he is a very likable character. He gets his laughs through iffy activities and his “genius” seems to be wasted on contraptions that actually take longer than doing everything by hand. He can be pretty brutal and fearless even when at gunpoint so at least Alex is braver than most people. Calling the cops on the robbers was a smart move even if it didn’t pan out. Alex made a lot of the right calls and there was never any doubt that he would defeat the robbers here since they are not all that smart when compared to a normal person.

There are four villains. They get the best theme in the entire film during their entrance. It’s a very hardcore theme that shows how lethal they are. That’s where the buck stops for them though as they are quickly foiled by a kid multiple times and get hit by so many objects that they should be dead several times over. I guess they’ve got luck on their side, but that’s about it. They manage to insult each other quite a lot despite getting humiliated earlier. The cycle continues to the point where none of the members can move without pain and difficulty. From the 4 crooks, the best one is probably the guy who is always grinning. We had the “emotionless” villain, the “tough” villainess, the “I’m not that smart” guy, and the “I’m bored” villain. They all blend together after a while though and it’s not as if any of them do all that well. Their boss surprisingly doesn’t get any closure, but I suppose we can assume that the FBI put him in his place.

One issue that the film deals with is the writing. It is definitely not good and causes the film to go a little too overboard with how extreme the characters are. For example, the Dad forgets his shorts before heading to a very important business meeting. So…he wouldn’t notice that he left the house without his pants? The police, while they rush out with their guns to check on the kid’s call, act rather oddly for a bit. One officer’s conversation with the Mom to tell Alex not to call again was strange as he would just stare blankly and go on long winded speeches about how important the police are. Then the Mom started talking about a police toy she got Alex when trying to show how serious he is… The siblings are naturally very annoying as well. The brother has a lot of dicey stuff in his room and likes picking on Alex. Ditto for the sister on the teasing.

Of course, they come to Alex’s defense in the end. It’s supposed to be heart warming, but it’s just cheesy and not in a good way. Also, I don’t think the chief of the FBI should be intimidated by little kids when he’s got other officers with him. It was another “hype” scene that just makes you shake your head. Also, Alex mentioned that the neighbor’s dog was kidnapped, but the police didn’t care. Furthermore, shouldn’t the owner have been looking for him? Lets put this into perspective. The villains moved into Alex’s neighborhood, they live across the block. They kidnapped the dog who lived next to the main character’s house and then walk around with him during the day as their cover. Did the owner of the dog move to Hawaii or something? It’s sad to think that he is looking for his dog, but doesn’t notice him passing by every day. I guess the owner didn’t put up any wanted posters either.

The film also hints that Alex’s mean next door neighbor will play a big role in the end or at least have some kind of role. Instead, she’s just kidnapped and learns to like Alex since he saved her from getting frostbite. I didn’t even disagree with her entirely in the opening since Alex was late and he should have shoveled her lawn on time. There was also a parrot who helped out quite a bit. Unfortunately, most of the words that the parrot knew were pretty iffy. The film went for a lot of that kind of humor and it just wasn’t needed. Give us some well written humor instead!

Writing wasn’t the film’s strong suit so it’s lucky that it was following a tried and true formula. Seeing the traps take out the villains was neat. Naturally, most of the traps aren’t all that believable and aren’t played seriously. It’d be a little more grim than funny if the villains actually reacted to all of the pain believably since they take some real mean hits. Lets just say that the kid was not taking any prisoners. I probably would be using the big guns myself if international terrorists were going to arrive at my doorstep though.

Overall, Home Alone 3 is fun, but it’s definitely another film that is really holding itself back. The tone helps to make the film enjoyable and some of the silly moments were handled well. It just could have been a lot better if they dialed down some of the iffy parts like the parrot and the bad writing that was all around. Most of the characters weren’t all that likable. I liked the parents and the Chief of the FBI, but the other characters needed some work. The villains were good enough for their role though. It would have been fun if they could have kept some of the serious music for a little longer though. They do get a lot of not very subtle musical notes though. Whenever a villain shows up, the music either stops for a second or we just get a very loud sound effect for a second. Don’t look at this film through a logical lens, but then again…why would you? It’s a comedy through and through. Most comedies tend to be fun on the surface while not being good movies like Pixels. Luckily, this one was not nearly as extreme so the score is still positive, but another iffy moment or two and it very easily could have dropped to a 5. It’ll be interesting to see how the 4th film fares. Hopefully it’ll be the best one yet!

Overall 6/10