Home Alone 3 Movie Review (Christmas Special)
The third of Advent is upon us, which means continuing my ‘Christmas Special Reviews’! What better way to honour this Sunday than with a review for Home Alone 3?
Genre: Christmas / Comedy
Director: Raja Gosnell
Cast: Alex D. Linz, Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny von Dohlen, David Thornton, Haviland Morris, Marian Seldes, Seth Smith, Scarlett Johansson & Kevin Kilner.
Run Time: 102 min.
US Release: 12 December 1997
UK Release: 19 December 1997
German Release: 18 December 1997
A happy third Advent Sunday everyone! As I explained last weekend, I am focusing on the Home Alone film series this year. I reposted my review of Chris Columbus’ original on the first Advent Sunday, followed by my review for the sequel last Sunday. Today, it is time to review the franchise's third instalment, which is the first Home Alone flick I saw in cinemas back in the day. Granted, as a ten-year-old I had lots of fun with this one but as I grew older, I started seeing this for what it was; a cheap knock-off. So let’s dig into my review!
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
When four high-tech industrial terrorists steal a top-secret microchip, hiding it in a remote-control toy car to bypass customs, a baggage mix-up at the airport leads eight-year-old Alex Pruitt to get the toy from his grumpy old neighbour Mrs. Hess. The criminals try to get the chip inside the toy back, deciding to burglarise every house on Alex's street. But Alex is prepared to fend them off.
This is Raja Gosnell’s directorial debut, the man who procured us with flicks like Big Momma's House, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and the Smurf movies, as well as being scripted once again by John Hughes. It is a shockingly bad attempt at nostalgia cash garb, with an inexcusable inconsistent tone, as it jumps between baddies that commit cold-blooded murder, to silly scenes as an eight-year-old fortifies his home. However, I also must confess that one can have fun with this sequel.
Home Alone 3 does have a bunch of issues that can be traced back to dumb decision-making. For one, it is the first in the series to take place two full weeks after the holiday season, yet it is marketed as a Christmas picture. It starts with this spy-esque scene in Hong Kong that has nothing to do with the original premise's spirit, taking a full ten minutes before finally introducing us to the Pruitt family and Alex himself. What is most baffling, are the vast plot holes added, to make things convenient when needed. Then there is the constant cannibalisation of the original, with rip-off characters or situations.
Once the third act starts, the narrative picks up, as the terrorists fall for Alex’s traps. This is the part that can be truly enjoyed, not just because the traps are so much more violent than in the predecessors, or due to the slapstick being incredibly silly. It is the sudden drop in intelligence from these gangsters that turn the last couple of minutes hilariously ridiculous.
The dialogue shifts constantly in quality. Alex is an adorable boy, with funny line deliveries that are sometimes too smart for his own good. Haviland Morris overdramatises at times, though the worst dialogue has been penned for the criminals. Conversations about child executions come up, cheesy one-liners are delivered it simply makes no sense!
Alex D. Linz, as Alex Pruitt, does a good job portraying the character. He is a charming, intelligent, young boy that audiences like immediately. His openness, plus his goodwill is endearing. He is stricken down with chickenpox, as the band of criminals start breaking into houses in his neighbourhood. Instead of looking away, he takes matters into his own hands, even when no one believes him.
The parents, played by Haviland Morris and Kevin Kilner, are both working thus need to leave the young boy at home. Haviland Morris does give a credible performance as Alex’s mother, even if overacting in a couple of scenes. Kilner, on the other hand, is barely present. Most of his scenes just show him running from one end of an airport to the next.
Instead of too bumbling burglars, Gosnell and Hughes wanted to raise the stakes by adding a quartet of wanted international terrorists, who are inexplicably stupid, but only when the story needs them to be. The portrayals by Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny von Dohlen, as well as David Thornton are uninspired, bordering on horrible.
Cinematographically, it tries to rip off Columbus’ predecessors, using similar shot setups, especially during home battles plus preparations. However, those same camera arrangements are used to create more dramatic scenes for the criminals, though fail to evoke a threatening atmosphere as they simply look corny. The opening shot of Hong Kong looks too grainy and cheap. The colour palette is well-saturated with on-point lighting.
Like the previous Macaulay Culkin-lead flicks, most of the effects are practical. A lot of the stunts are ridiculously over-the-top, with only half of them being actually funny. Make-up is a mixed bag, with some of the injuries looking right out cartoonish, including toy car skid marks on a baddie's face.
Nick Glennie-Smith replaced John Williams as the film's composer. While the opening credit score is the same, the rest of the soundtrack is missing Christmas-themed sounds, replaced by typical family-comedy melodies, as well as including a few 90s rock songs.
Verdict: Raja Gosnell’s third instalment in the Home Alone franchise, is a hot mess that can be enjoyed for its ridiculousness. The John Hughes script, is a soft reboot of the franchise, though instead of creating something original, the writer decided to cannibalise his previous work. Small changes are made, as stakes are raised by including international criminals that are working for a North Korean, meant to replace Harry and Marv. The vibe is all over the place, opening with a scene that is more reminiscent of a Die Hard film. From there on it constantly switches between silly spoofy and deadly serious. The dialogue contains horribly cheesy one-liners, while the casting is a mixed bag. Alex D. Linz does give a compelling rendition of his character, and Marian Seldes nails it as the elderly embittered neighbour, yet the criminals are simply horribly written! Last but not least, the music is a real let-down. Home Alone 3 gets a 4.5 out of 10.
So, what is your take on Home Alone 3? Is there anyone out there who thinks this is a good movie? Let me know in the comments & as always, thank you for reading!