- Movie Rating -

Home Alone 4: Takin’ Back the House (2002)

| May 12, 2005 | 0 Comments

Home Alone 4 might be the strangest movie ever filmed in Capetown, South Africa. That’s not a joke; the budget on this movie was so low that South Africa seemed the only viable option for filming. Throughout the film, I keep looking at the backgrounds to see if I could spot anything that was distinctly South Africa (a tiger maybe?).  This was an effort, on my part, to find anything on the screen from a plot that was bilious, sanctimonious and half-baked.

In my review of Home Alone 3, I noted that it “reeks of desperation”. That’s tame compared with what Home Alone 4 has to work with.  It stands on the far shores of a once-interesting and highly successful idea and the result can only stand as mere impression.  Whereas Home Alone 3 focused on a different kid in a similar Chicago suburb, this one pulls the focus back on little Kevin McCallister who is, oddly enough, the same age that he was in his original adventure.  Here he’s played by little Mark Weinberg, who doesn’t even have the excuse of being cute.  Actually he’s kind of creepy.  He talks all the time, and his dialogue consists of those cutesy little kid actor phrases: “I knew this was gonna be the best Christmas ever!”  He’s a standard Hollywood acting kid, and not a very good one.

The plot involves Kevin spending Christmas Eve at the home of his dad’s girlfriend Natalie (Joanna Going).  His parents are separated, which leads to a side-plot involving some preachy nonsense about the importance of family.  That’s when Kevin isn’t bashing crooks over the head.  Not content with the family plot, there has to be – once again – a series of gags in which the house is besieged by bad guys and the kid has to stop them by setting up elaborate traps that could only be executed by a special effects department.

The crooks are Marv and his wife Vera.  Marv, as you will recall was played in the first two films by Daniel Stern who was offered this film but refused, calling it “an insult, total garbage.”  He is replaced here by French Stewart of “3rd Rock from the Sun”, who gives a bad performance simply by trying to do a bad impression of Daniel Stern.  There are some acts you just can’t follow, and others you don’t want to.  Stewart’s performance is painful to watch.  Essentially you’re watching an otherwise talented comedian attempting to do an impression of another talented comedian.  Stewart twists and turns his voice and his body language in such weird and off-putting ways that you sit there concerned for the man’s health.  Then it dons on you: This is his performance!

Anyway, Marv intends to kidnap little Kevin for reasons that I don’t think are ever made clear.  He and Vera invade Natalie’s house, which is a “smart house” – a mansion in which everything is voice activated.  It isn’t much of a stretch to imagine how the third act of this film plays out – lots of lumps to the head and that weird pratfall in which people slip, fly up in the air, and land flat on their backs.  Knowing that this movie takes place in Chicago, but filmed in South Africa, I kept hoping that the SAP would bust down the door and drag the crooks off to who-knows-where.

Long ago, and far away, there was a pretty good movie called Home Alone.  It starred Macaulay Culkin, a cute and very talented young comedian.  Because of him, the movie became the most successful comedy of all time, but it wasn’t an idea that anyone could really build on.  Sequels based around that formula can only be an imitation, not that anyone was really asking for it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2002) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy