There’s nothing The Walt Disney Company likes more than a sequel! Virtually every film released by the Hollywood juggernaut has received either the follow-up treatment or been turned into a full-on franchise! The 2003 hit “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” went on to spawn four additional movies. The animated classic “Toy Story” has been given three follow-ups since its 1995 debut, with a prequel currently in the works set to chronicle the origin story of action figure Buzz Lightyear. And just this year, the House of Mouse released yet another “Home Alone” feature, pre-production on which got underway in 2019, shortly after the media conglomerate acquired 20th Century Fox (now renamed 20th Century Studios) and the rights to the hit 1990 comedy along with it.
Titled “Home Sweet Home Alone,” the Disney+ original is actually the franchise’s fifth installment following 1992’s “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” 1997’s “Home Alone 3,” 2002’s “Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House,” and 2012’s “Home Alone: The Holiday Heist” (all of which are also currently streaming on Disney+). Directed by Dan Mazer with a script penned by Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell of “Saturday Night Live” fame, the new film stars Archie Yates as Max Mercer, a young boy accidentally left behind when his family takes a trip to Tokyo for the holidays, who winds up having to defend his house from down-on-their-luck couple Pam (Ellie Kemper) and Jeff McKenzie (Rob Delaney) as they attempt to retrieve a very valuable doll they believe Max has stolen from them.
Although “Home Alone’s” initial four sequels bombed with both audiences and critics alike, news of the 2021 follow-up was primarily met with eager anticipation. One person not thrilled over the announcement? Director Christopher Columbus, who helmed the first two installments. As he candidly informed Insider, “Nobody got in touch with me about it, and it’s a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. What’s the point? I’m a firm believer that you don’t remake films that have had the longevity of ‘Home Alone.’ You’re not going to create lightning in a bottle again. It’s just not going to happen. So why do it? It’s like doing a paint-by-numbers version of a Disney animated film — a live-action version of that. What’s the point? It’s been done. Do your own thing. Even if you fail miserably, at least you have come up with something original.” Ouch!
When the film was finally released this past November (after several production delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic), most critics echoed Columbus’ sentiments, with Richard Propes of The Independent Critic deeming it “just plain excruciatingly bad” and “one of the worst films of 2021″ and Shaun Munro of Flickering Myth espousing, “Slop-bucket cinema at its most transparently cynical, ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’ offers no reason to exist beyond lazily rehashing a brand name for a new generation of viewers while making some truly bizarre tonal miscalculations.” James Croot of Stuff also humorously took issue with the production’s “gratingly repeated use of the wrong plural for Lego.” It’s certainly a far cry from the praise garnered by the original, which has the distinction of being the highest-grossing domestic comedy in movie history!