No matter how famous anyone thinks they are, the fame that Macaulay Culkin had at such a young age might never be replicated again. After his Kevin McCallister performance in Home Alone, he was everywhere. He has hosted Saturday Night Live at just 11 years old, starred in a Michael Jackson music video and was about to earn $4.5 million for Home Alone 2, compared to the first film where he made $110,000. After Home Alone 2 and a couple of other performances, Macaulay announced he was taking a break from acting to return to a normal life. But once Home Alone 2 established that you could milk this beloved Christmas classic dry with meaningless sequels, there was no stopping the mundane train, and that’s where Home Alone 3 comes into play.
Home Alone 3 doesn’t begin in a large, family house, but instead Hong Kong, where four wanted spies steal a $10 million microchip. To avoid it being detected in airport security they hide it inside a toy car, but a woman names Mrs. Hess (Marian Seldes) accidentally takes the bag with the toy car in and the spies track her down. This is where we’re introduced NOT to Kevin McCallister, but Alex Pruitt (Alex D. Lind). Mrs. Hess gives him the toy car as a reward for clearing her drive of snow. Later, Alex discovers he has chickenpox and is told to stay home. Whilst spying on his neighbours Alex sees the spies and attempts to report them. After the spies discover Alex has been watching them, they decide to break into his house and… it’s “Home Alone”, you know where it’s going.
Now then, question, does this sound like the plot to a Home Alone film? Of course not, because nothing from the original film is returning here. As previously explained, there’s no Kevin, but there’s not a single McCallister in sight. No Wet Bandits, no Chris Columbus directing (this time Raja Gosnell), it just seems that this film collapsed when everyone realised that Macauley Culkin wouldn’t return. The only returning element from the originals is that John Hughes is the writer, who by this stage in his career, had sunk to seemingly impossible lows. But hey, at least a young Scarlett Johansson is in this film.
I guess my biggest issue with this film is how obvious this film was made with the idea of making money and not respecting what a huge hit the first film was. The most obvious area that is completely exploited is everyone’s favourite part about the Home Alone film, the boobytraps. The traps were genius and simple, they were traps you could imagine a child making, Home Alone 2 may have gone over the top with this idea but Home Alone 3’s traps are downright uninspiring. It feels like the filmmakers took whatever memorable traps the first two film had and create a carbon copy version, in order to create a sense of familiarity. Home Alone did wonders for John Hughes’ career, you’d think he would have felt some excitement that he could create a whole new set of imaginative traps. Also, during the boobytrap sequences, we cut away to wherever Alex’s parents are, remember how the focus in the first film was to stick with the chaos of these traps? Not in Home Alone 3 it isn’t.
The writing ultimately brings this whole film down, John Hughes really threw realism out of the window with this one. Everything just feels so precise and comically slapstick. For example, Alex’s brother Stan (Seth Smith) has a talking parrot with the function of making witty remarks every now and again, but some of the other things Alex does with it is ridiculous such as training him to leave a fake message on an answering machine and even without Alex, the parrot lights a firework on the remote control car. On the precise side of things, every trap feels like it has to work perfectly every time, as in the person has to be standing in the exact spot at the exact time.
I will however give some credit where credit is due and that I don’t think Alex D. Lind isn’t a bad choice at replacing Macauley Culkin. He is pretty likable and has the hidden smarts that Kevin McCallister had, I figure if he has starred in the original Home Alone, the film wouldn’t be a successful but successful nonetheless. However, where the film definitely skimped on quality is the four wanted spies. I can’t even remember their names let alone who played them because their so forgetful. With Harry and Marv you had amazing, unpredictable chemistry between Pesci and Stern and their difference as intelligent burglars made them funny to watch. In Home Alone 3 these spies are just so bland and there is no reason for the audience to want to see them get into Alex’s shenanigans.
I chose to write about Home Alone 3 after learning although it was heavily panned by audiences and critics, there is one notable figure who seemed to enjoy this film more that the original, Roger Ebert. Yep, Roger “the most influential film critic” Ebert enjoyed Home Alone 3. So really the question while writing this was, was I missing something? No, I don’t think I am. I still ended up hating this film even after I rewatched it with the intention of finding the good in it. Sorry Ebert, while I deeply respect your opinions on film and you may have been right about many, many films, but this one where you got it wrong.