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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Home Alone 4
Home Alone 4
Fox // Unrated // September 2, 2003
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Blair | posted September 7, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Sometimes a movie franchise needs to quite when it's behind. The first Home Alone movie was brilliantly original and launched the short-lived mega-fame career of Macaulay Culkin. Home Along 2: Lost in New York was a commendable follow-up that added just as many laughs as the first. But when Home Alone 3 debuted minus Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the bumbling burglar duo, and with a new child actor as its star, things went downhill. Now Home Alone 4: Taking Back The House tries to rekindle the loveable antics of Kevin McAllister and his home-protecting booby traps. But the flame that once burned bright in the first two movies is long gone, failing horribly to make a resurrection here.

Kevin is back, but now his parents are separated and have been for eight months. Naturally Kevin wants his parents to get back together for Christmas, but his father is about to marry another woman. Kevin gets tortured by his older brother and sister, which causes him to run away to his father's place for Christmas. Here Kevin gets the opportunity to be spoiled rotten by his filthy rich soon-to-be stepmother. Like in the first movie, Kevin has an "I'm so happy I'm singing" scene after he realizes how good his life is at his father's new high-tech mansion. But his happiness is soon shattered when his old nemeses Marv (now played by French Stewart) along with his ditsy wife Verra (Missi Pyle of Galaxy Quest fame) decides to break into the home so they can plan a future kidnapping of a Royal Prince who will be staying there in a few days. Add in some bad dialogue, horrible acting, and boring action, and there's the rest of the movie.

As this is a Home Alone film you'd probably expect to see a lot of clever traps and slapstick comedy, and you'd be only half right. French Stewart and Missi Pyle do their best at providing the physical acting, but it's anything but funny. And the few scenes that have little Kevin trying to thwart Marv's plan are far from clever. The problem is, nothing interesting happens in this movie.

The awful acting doesn't help matters. Where Macaulay Culkin was cute and charismatic in Home Alone, Michael Weinberg comes off as fake and annoying as the new Kevin in Home Alone 4. Add that to Stewart's abysmal dialogue and continuous overacting, and you'll find yourself wanting to put your head in the sand. Although, I did find it comical that Missi Pyle tried to make herself look sinister with her smirky facial expression, however she just looks too pretty to pull it off. Her character was actually done quite well, it's a pity the rest of the cast couldn't follow suit.

But the part I disliked most about this movie was the ridiculous ending that sends a very bad message to kids with divorced parents. I don't doubt that many children who watch this movie will afterwards feel that some crazy behavior will bring their separated parents back together. This is not only unrealistic, but can be damaging to a child's already disrupted emotions.

Kids will probably like this movie, but most adults will despise it. If you go into it knowing what to expect, you probably won't be too dissatisfied, but if you watch it in hopes of it being as good as the original two, you'll be hugely disappointed.


The DVD

Video:
Home Alone 4 offers a 1.33:1 full screen version on one side of the disc, and a 1.78:1 widescreen version on the other. This movie looks about average for a new DVD release. Edge enhancement is hardly visible, colors look bright, and the overall picture is fairly clean and crisp. There was some pixelation present, as well as some grainy scenes, but other than that this was a decent transfer.

Audio:
Home Alone 4 offers both Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 audio tracks. I was surprised to find a 5.1 audio track, but was not surprised that it wasn't very good. Dialogue is easy to hear but as you might expect, almost all of the audio is up at the front three speakers. The rear surrounds are not used effectively to create an enveloping experience, and the LFE channel never gets a chance to wake up. This is a dreary sounding movie, but given the content I wasn't expecting anything different.

Extras:
There are no extras on this disc.

Final Thoughts:
Home Alone 4 will hopefully be the last in this quickly declining movie franchise. If not, I can only imagine how bad the next one will be considering its recent trend. Young children may still get a kick out some of the comedy, but most adults will find little or nothing to like about it. Skip It

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