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‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ a real cinematic lump of coal

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Courtesy Disney

Hollywood studios have a tendency to cling to profitable ideas and flood us with sequels, prequels and spin-offs until those ideas are no longer profitable. But nobody, NOBODY, knows how to run a property into the ground like Disney, and if you want proof of that fact, all you have to do is watch “Home Sweet Home Alone.”

The sixth (sixth?!) entry in the “Home Alone” series, “Home Sweet Home Alone” finds young Max Mercer (Archie Yates) left behind by his family over the Christmas holiday. Meanwhile, Jeff and Pam McKenzie (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper) are on the verge of selling the house they love so much but can’t afford.

The McKenzies find they could be in possession of a doll that’s worth enough to pay off their mortgage, but unfortunately, the doll has gone missing. Thanks to an interaction they had with Max and his mother (Aisling Bea), they decide that Max swiped the doll and plan to break into his house and get it back.

First, let’s give credit where credit is due. Though it was produced as a direct-to-streaming feature for Disney+, this movie feels significantly more like a movie than previous “Home Alone” flicks produced for television.

The acting, especially from Delaney and Kemper, is pretty solid. Some of the slapstick gags are pretty funny.

There. That’s everything nice I have to say about this movie.

This movie is poorly written, full of scenes that don’t work and characters that are flat and have no development. The thing we’re all waiting for is seeing Max deal with the McKenzies’ break-in attempts, which means we sit through a good hour of the movie that is devoid of humor. A long time to sit around watching a “comedy” that isn’t making you laugh.

Most of the funny side characters, like Jeff’s brother and sister-in-law are annoying. Devin Ratray reprises the role of Buzz McCallister for a couple of scenes that serve no purpose other than to remind you of better movies in the series. There’s even a call-back to “Angels with Filthy Souls,” the gangster movie Kevin watches in the first movie, where one character remarks that remakes are never better than the originals. How meta! How hilarious! Ugh.

But the worst thing about “Home Sweet Home Alone” by far is how it treats Jeff and Pam. Judging by what we’re shown in the movie, they’re decent people who are stuck in a desperate situation. Yet, they keep beaten, bloodied and bruised as if they did something horrible.

When Kevin was beating up the Wet Bandits, it was made clear that they were career criminals, so the pain they suffered was justified. What did McKenzies do to deserve the beating they take? There’s a misunderstanding that makes Max think he’s their target, but he’s never really in any real danger.

This was probably a move made to defuse any accusations the Disney is OK with endangering children as long as there’s money to be made, but it brings up questions about Disney’s opinion on its less-wealthy fans. On top of that, knowing Max is never in any real danger robs the story of any stakes, making the movie into family-friendly torture porn.

“Home Sweet Home Alone” has a few laughs but they’re not worth sitting through the whole movie for. The story is a convoluted knot of misunderstandings, none of which justify the treatment of its characters. If you have a “Home Alone” itch that you just need to scratch, there are far better ways to do that.

”Home Sweet Home Alone” is available to stream on Disney+.

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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