Movie Review: "Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House" (2002)

Working title: "Ernest Makes a Stupid Kids Movie"
Working title: "Ernest Makes a Stupid Kids Movie" | Source

DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.

"Home Alone 4: Taking Back The House" is in some ways a bit more respectable film than "Home Alone 3" in the sense that it had all the right intentions but it ended up doing everything wrong and half-assed.

"Home Alone 4" sees the parents of Kevin McCallister separated. Kevin himself lives with his mother while his father resides with his rich girlfriend Natalie, who lives in a mansion. Fed up with being tormented by Buzz, Kevin takes his father's offer to spend Christmas with him at the mansion.

Marv, one of the crooks from the first two, returns here and is now accompanied by his girlfriend Vera. They're out to kidnap a royal family whom Natalie will be hosting at the mansion. Kevin suspects that the butler, Mr. Prescott, might be working with the crooks because he's never around when they break into the house. However, it turns out later on that Molly, the maid, is the one working with them. In fact, she happens to be Marv's mother and is in charge of the whole kidnapping plot.

As I do with many of the bad films that I review which have some redeeming qualities about them, I will list the good first:

  • Most of the original characters are back. This was a step in the right direction from "Home Alone 3."
  • The setting is original. At least we're not stuck in the same stupid house again.
  • I like the fact that Kevin's parents are separated, this changes things up a bit from the first two films and provides some kind of conflict for his parents, something which hadn't been touched yet.
  • Marv trying to be the leader this time around was nice. And I also like the fact that the maid (his mother) was in charge of the whole scheme this time around.
  • Instead of creating traps for the crooks, Kevin gets creative and just works with whatever he can find. This leads to perhaps the best scene in the film where Kevin traps Marv and Vera in the mansion's oversized bathroom while it's powerful shower jets flood the entire room.

Awkwardness

There's a lot of awkwardness running rampant throughout "Home Alone 4." There's a scene with Kevin dancing which I guess is supposed to resemble a scene in the original but it just comes off as cringeworthy. Other examples include the following:

  • The look on Kevin's face when Buzz is left to babysit him. Can he look any more forced than he does here in this one shot?
  • The music. My oh my. "Home Alone 3" had this problem, you know, distancing itself from the memorable soundtrack of the first two 'Home Alone' movies. It seems as if "Home Alone 4" also jumped on the bandwagon, except that the music here is even worse than in "Home Alone 3". Here, it actually sounds like a direct-to-video soundtrack, even though that's what the movie is, it doesn't even try to be anything other than that, it just settles for what it is.
  • The scene where Kevin is served breakfast in bed. What were they thinking when they filmed this scene? There's no dialogue, just DTV (direct-to-video) music playing. Kevin fidgets excitingly in bed as Molly the maid comes over to him with a breakfast tray. One has to wonder why it was shot in such a bad fashion as it was. I mean come on, 'Hellraiser' has had like five or so direct-to-video sequels and even they have better scene execution than this turd.

Anyone Got a Movie Opener?

Because it looks as if they opened "Home Alone 4" with a can opener. You can tell that this movie was nothing more than a cash-in attempt just by the opening titles alone. The entire title sequence acts more like the logo sequence for the film's production company, that's how bad it is. It's done very quick and it's over before you know it. This is the first hint in "Home Alone 4" that you're in for a DTV-stylized sequel.

Look in the Mirror, Idiots

None of the actors in "Home Alone 4" resemble the characters that they are supposed to be playing. Kevin doesn't look like Kevin; in fact, he looks a lot younger than Kevin from "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York." Also, Buzz is way too skinny to be Buzz. I can tell already that the casting director didn't a crap about the first two 'Home Alone' movies.

Furthermore, Kevin's dad looks nothing like Kevin's dad. And then there's Marv who looks more like Harry, complete with the skullcap. Actually, Marv in "Home Alone 4" looks and acts a lot like Ernest from the 'Ernest' movies (i.e. "Ernest Scared Stupid").

Random Things That Make No Sense

  • Kevin states in the first five minutes that he is nine years old. But in "Home Alone", we learn that he's eight. "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" takes place one year after the first film, making Kevin nine. It's not possible for the second and fourth films to take place during the same Christmas season because of the circumstances and as well as the fact that his parents have been separated for eight months. So wouldn't it make sense for "Home Alone 4" to take place AT LEAST one year after the second film?
  • When Marv and Vera first enter the mansion, Kevin traps them in a bathroom that is quickly flooding with water. He then goes downstairs and waits for the water to burst through the door and carry them down the steps. It's not until this happens that he decides to call the butler for help. Gee, maybe you should have done that as soon as you locked the bathroom door.

Remedies for "Home Alone 4: Taking Back The House"

  • A production value that is at least standard hollywood style and not television.
  • Finding actors who at least look the parts they are playing.

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Comments 3 comments

lukeuk profile image

lukeuk 4 years ago from United Kingdom

For me, I think they should have stopped making them after 2


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State

Ohhh yeah, this one was bad. Not the "good" kind of bad either. And that's coming from someone who didn't mind "H.A. 3."

I can understand why they had to re-cast Kevin for this movie, since Macaulay Culkin was probably old enough to drink by 2002. But they could've at least tried to find a kid who looked somewhat like him. Sheesh.

If memory serves, this was a made-for-TV movie that aired on the FOX Network before going straight to DVD. Nuff said.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Wow, it sounds like I'm not missing much by never seeing this film. To be honest, I didn't hear about this movie up until a year ago, and i still have no desire to even watch it. And based on your review, I can safely say that I never will. lol.

By the way, the whole age problem for Home Alone thing could be a matter of Kevin being born on a leap year. lol.

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