Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House Movie Review (Christmas Special)
It's the final Advent Sunday, which means time to tackle Home Alone 4, possibly the worst in the series. No humour, no family feeling & the acting is atrocious.
Genre: Christmas / Comedy
Director: Rod Daniel
Cast: Mike Weinberg, French Steward, Missy Pyle, Eric Avari, Barbara Babcock, Jason Beghe, Joanna Going, Gideon Jacobs & Clare Carey.
Run Time: 84 min.
US Release: 03 November 2002 (ABC Television)
UK Release: 20 October 2003 (Direct-to-DVD)
German Release: 15 Juli 2004 (Direct-to-DVD)
Welcome back to my Christmas Special review and a happy fourth of Advent. Today, I will continue with my Home Alone analysis string, taking a closer look at the fourth instalment. I remember seeing this direct-to-DVD sequel, during my first year as a student in the UK. As Christmas approached, me being miles away from home, was longing for something familiar, so I went into HMV only finding the four-movie collection. I was surprised, as I had never heard of a fourth picture, so I decided to watch that first. After 20 minutes, I needed to turn it off!
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
As his parents are finalising their divorce, Kevin McCallister must stop his old nemesis Marv and his new wife Vera, from kidnapping a Crown Prince, despite the opposition of his father Peter, his new fiancee Natalie, as well as their butler Mr. Prescott.
Fun fact, Daniel Stern was asked to reprise his old role as Marv, however, declined immediately after reading the script. It also marks the first Home Alone film that was not written by John Hughes, equally this is Rod Daniel’s last directorial release, before retiring. It was first released in November 2002 in the US, as part of the forty-seventh season of The Wonderful World of Disney.
Written by Debra Frank and Steve L. Hayes, Taking Back the House brings back the McCallister family to the franchise, though without any of the original cast. Rather, we obtain new actors that share no resemblance whatsoever, nor does the plot contain the charm from the first two. Instead, the writing duo thought it would be appropriate to develop a story around the holiday season, in which Peter leaves his family plus wife, for a younger woman. It doesn’t stop there, as Peter tries to bribe the children to leave their mother during Christmas, to celebrate with them in his soon-to-be fiancee’s mansion.
Right out the bat, the family dynamic is shoved down the drain, while the Christmas spirit is missing completely, as we focus on the father going through his mid-life crisis, wrecking the holidays for everybody. Then there is a forced side arc concerning Marv trying to kidnap a crown prince, who audiences don’t even meet until the last 5 mins. The gags don’t land, with the booby traps around the house being completely lame. As if not enough, it also shamelessly rips off Richie Rich!
The dialogues are tacky, unrealistic and not funny at all! At times it seems like they are breaking the fourth wall, although there is no real reason for that.
My biggest complaint concerning the cast is that they are not written like the McCallister family, nor does the cast have any similarities with the original actors. Even in Home Alone 3, most of the performers were mere copies of the previous characters, especially true for Haviland Morris and Seth Smith. They even messed up the number of children! The Chris Columbus premise always displayed Kevin as having four older siblings. Here, Linnie and Jeff have been just scraped.
Mike Weinberg was cast as Kevin, though does not act like him at all. He is less bratty, however, he is absolutely rude towards other people, quickly judging them for getting annoyed at him. Weinberg did an incredibly poor job, overacting in nearly every scene. Then there is the fourth wall breaking by Kevin, which in the originals was always subtle. Here it is too on the nose, never suiting the situation.
French Steward as Marv is possibly the worst casting. He does not act at all like Daniel Stern, generally having nothing in common with the character. In fact, he seems to be playing the only role he knows. Marv had a fallout with Harry, now planning a kidnapping with his wife, played by Missi Pyle, giving another rotting rendition.
Then there is Eric Avari, playing the emotionless, enigmatic butler, who could well have been an antagonist. Cold, as well as one-dimensional, Avari could not have given a less motivated portrayal.
The camera work plus editing is atrocious. Yes, this is a TV flick, so of course, there is a feeling of lower quality, but the extremely pixelated film is inexcusable. Awkward shots, taken from underneath armpits, extreme zoom-ins and zoom-outs that do seem like something out of a music video, just like the terrible editing make for an incredible irritating viewing. Effects are equally as shabby, looking unconvincing. The movie was shot in South Africa, which could not look less like Chicago.
The music sounds poorly composed as if created on a music app. The opening title does not even share the typical opening soundtrack of the franchise
Verdict: Rod Daniel’s Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House, is easily the worst in the franchise. Yes, even worse than last year’s Disney+ Home Sweet Home Alone! Every single decision made, was just wrong! From destroying the legacy characters, by firstly erasing half of them, then breaking the family dynamic by making Peter McCallister divorce his wife, replacing her with a younger, richer, woman. The perfect story arc, for a family holiday flick. From there on it seems like the writers, as well as the director, confused Home Alone with Richie Rich. Marv, portrayed by French Steward, is nothing like the character we love and know, while Mike Weinberg gives an extremely cheesy rendition of Kevin. The cinematography is horrible, even for a TV release. Finally, the music by Teddy Castellucci is cheap, having nothing in common with the original soundtrack. Home Alone 4 is one of the worst movies I have ever seen and deserves my lowest score, a 1.0 out of 10.
I do hope you did not have the misfortune of having seen this fourth instalment, yet if you did, leave a comment below to let me know what you thought. Thank you very much for reading!