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.
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.
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.
There are no extras on this disc.
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