Franchise with Me: Home Alone w/ Ty and Ella Turdsby

Initially for December, I wanted to do a really shitty Holiday franchise. A franchise where no entry is redeemable and/or it really dumps on the idea of Christmas. Something like Silent Night, Deadly Night or a Die Hard 1 & 2 + Lethal Weapon 1 Special. The reason for this is that I mostly hate sentimental things because they gross me out. With Covid-19 and my family most likely cancelling our Christmas Eve tradition (and for good reason), this year was different and I got oddly sentimental. I wanted to watch and reflect on a franchise that captures the spirit of togetherness while still being violent as fuck.

Enter Home Alone, a sweet, morally straight family tale on the outside and a brutal, no-holds barred don’t-tread-on-me thriller on the inside. Kevin MacAllister (Macaulay Culkin) is an adorable and precocious kid to his parents and select adults that work at grocery stores, but when push comes to shove, he easily (maybe too easily) transitions into a cold-blooded, calculated killer in order to fend off a home invasion. Of course, Chris Columbus and John Hughes don’t treat the material THAT seriously, otherwise Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern would be dead twenty times over. The amount of damage Kevin’s booby traps inflict would, ten times out of ten, kill anyone. This seems to be more of a middle aged fantasy than a child’s though, and it’s weird that an 8-year-old boy is the entry point for gun-obsessed, conservative boomers that want nothing more than to be put in a situation where they “have to” take a life. But cest la vie, I guess.

Joining me for this descent into booby trap madness is a longtime friend, collaborator and a comedic idol of mine from my formative college years, Ty Turdsby. Also joining us is Tys adorable, precocious and violence-crazed two-year-old daughter, Ella. In this article the text colored BLUE will represent my commentary, while the text colored RED will represent Ty’s commentary. PURPLE text when appropriate will serve to represent Ella’s commentary or general behavior/feelings towards each entry.

There are 5 movies in this franchise, and they seem to be getting worse and worse. Let’s dive in with the original classic, the only entry that could ever be called “great”.

Home Alone

directed by: Chris Columbus ; screenplay by: John Hughes

starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, John Candy, Kieran Culkin, Devin Ratray, Hope Davis, Gary Bamman, Terrie Snell.

runtime: 103 minutes

release date: November 16, 1990

other movies released this year: Tremors, GoodFellas, Pretty Woman, Total Recall, Dances with Wolves, The Witches, Arachnophobia, Jacob’s Ladder, Ghost, Misery, Problem Child, Miller’s Crossing, Days of Thunder, The Hunt for Red October, Dick Tracy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kindergarten Cop, Gremlins 2, Joe Versus the Volcano.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ty ; PURPLE = Ella

I can’t even remember the first time I saw Home Alone because I was so young. Probably around Christmas 1991 or when it first came out on VHS cassette. I’d have been Ella’s age for sure. It quickly became a classic in my household, as me and pretty much every other kid that watched it saw themselves as Kevin MacAllister, a scrappy, smart little shit everyone in the family underestimates but when push comes to shove, is able to save the day. I remember laughing hysterically at all the booby traps, tricks and especially Uncle Frank, a comedic performance even a two year old could see as brilliant.

The original Home Alone succeeds where the sequels most often fail for three major reasons. First, we don’t have concept fatigue yet as this is all relatively pretty fresh. Two, the adult actors Hughes and Columbus fill the movie with all do incredible character work to varying degrees — on one hand you have John Candy and Gary Bamman (Uncle Frank) playing their ridiculous characters to the hilt and on the other hand, you have Catherine O’Hara and John Heard really reigning in the reality of the situation with their nuanced but still humorous portrayals. O’Hara especially, who you really believe is in fact desperate to get home to her son. Three, and most importantly, you have a ridiculously talented and capable child actor (Macaulay Culkin) anchoring the film, never taking us out of the reality the film establishes.

At 1 hour and 43 minutes, it’s very well paced and while it does feature some schmaltzy but obligatory heart to heart dialogue scenes, they resolve themselves quickly. Under all the violence and vigilante wish fulfillment is a simple and beautiful message, no one deserves to be alone for the holidays. With Covid-19 this year, that’s pretty much a certainty for a lot of us. Catherine O’Hara won’t be rushing to our house to comfort and hold us, we will just be home alone watching Home Alone. Cry-masturbating to the idea of one day having a family. Ty, what are your thoughts?

Sometime while I’ve been trapped in my home during quarantine and looking for something to “just have on”, I came across The Movies That Made Us—a short anthology of clickbait, pseudo production documentaries on the likes of Ghostbusters, Dirty Dancing, and Home Alone. This is basically just a grab bag of IMDB trivia about the movie, interviews with a few supporting cast/crew members, and some low-res video of Joe Pesci looking menacing on a soundstage—but it works. Between watching this and recently watching Home alone again in full, one thing is clear: This movie probably could have bombed—but it had enough things going for it—particularly the casting—that instead elevated it into that upper echelon of classic movies—one that actually holds up remarkably well.

At its core, Home Alone is basically a messy love note about families. Sure, we begrudge our little cousin who pees the bed and spills the Pepsi—but we know those details in the first place because we spend the big holidays together. Turns out Christmas is just a day like any other when you’re not surrounded by the smattering of people in your life who vividly remember your brooding middle school phase or the Thanksgiving where you got so drunk that you passed out before the meal even started and Grandma would later remark to both sides of the family that you specifically ruined the entire day. But I digress. 

This is probably a reach here, but there’s some eerie similarity between Kevin McAllister suddenly finding himself alone on Christmas and most people’s experiences in the Covid-19 timeline. Any other year and I’d be dancing around political discourse with my more unabashedly conservative family members, talking to my mom about what shows we’re currently watching while she prepares food and inexplicably offers me an espresso in the middle of the day, and absolutely massacring my nephews at Mario Kart—because life won’t ever hesitate to hit you with a red shell, and it’s time they finally absorb the lesson. Just like Kevin McAllister, I perhaps didn’t realize how much I actually appreciated these little moments with family until they weren’t available. So, again, a messy message—but pretty heady for a movie that I believe could also be fairly categorized as a torture porn cartoon for like 20 minutes of its run time.

As I mentioned above, this movie is probably better than it originally had any right to be—and I mostly attribute that to the casting. Obviously you start with Macaulay Culkin—nailed it. Cute, precocious, and possessed a certain worldliness as a child actor that made it entirely believable he could outsmart two grown ass men using limited supplies. Next, Joe Pesci—huge get. While I couldn’t fully appreciate as a kid the gravitas of bringing the smart mouthed profane gangster from Casino and Goodfellas into the mix, it’s something I appreciate more and more as an adult. I could crudely write an entire dissertation on why Home Alone needed to get these two roles right—lead child actor and lead bad guy. It’s like making sure you have Sir Ian Mckellen play your lead in Hamlet instead of Carrot Top. Home Alone gets this right—the later installments in this highly unnecessary franchise get it so, so wrong. 

Okay. Next, I should point out that Catherine O’Hara is an absolute treasure. For as flat as her character was written, she still comes out of this romp with a solid performance and arguably the most iconic line of the movie: When, once finally settling into review her mental inventory about what precautions she took to get ready for the trip to Florida, she finally puts it together her troubled son was left behind, and screams “KEVIN!”. In my mind, that’s every bit as iconic as Allen Iverson stepping over Ty Lue. Kanye West cutting off Taylor Swift at the VMAs. The mountains turning blue on a can of Coors Light. 

And then you basically just have John Candy as a throw-in? Unbelievable. According to the clickbait special I watched on Netflix, he basically did it for free as a favor to his friend. In hindsight, you can totally tell they had like one day to film with him—but wow, what a flex. It’s exactly these casting moves that push this production beyond something easily made for TV.

Home Alone is a deserving, unprecedented classic. I still perk up during the trap section. 

Ella’s Review: Wow! Cool! 

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

directed by: Chris Columbus ; screenplay by: John Hughes

starring: Donald J. Trump, Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, Tim Curry, Brenda Fricker, Eddie Bracken, Rob Schneider, Devin Rattray, Gary Bamman, Terrie Snell, Kieran Culkin, Dana Ivey.

runtime: 120 minutes (longest entry)

release date: November 20, 1992

other movies released this year: Unforgiven, Reservoir Dogs, Glengarry Glen Ross, Beethoven, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, A River Runs Through It, A Few Good Men, Batman Returns, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, 3 Ninjas, Captain Ron, The Last of the Mohicans, Toys, Cool World, Encino Man, Basic Instinct, Death Becomes Her, The Crying Game, Candyman, A League of their Own.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ty ; PURPLE = Ella

I think what’s immediately clear to me about the sequel is that it’s also better than it has any right to be, especially for a movie that essentially offers virtually nothing new creatively—outside of the setting—from its predecessor. Kevin’s parents impossibly forget him, again. The wet bandits have somehow escaped from prison, despite previously demonstrating—in literal painstaking detail—their complete lack of wherewithal in pursuing a 12-year-old. Even the “old people are scary… until we take the time to understand them!” trope has been recycled here—jarringly so, I’m not sure we needed it. Donald Trump—still your president, snowflakes!—even makes a hollow cameo appearance. And yet… this movie is still watchable?

Once again, this is a testament to what’s possible when you have such a perfect cast. You can totally coast, allow Macaulay and Pesci to do the heavy lifting where the writing simply can’t—or even attempt. Fortunately, Catherine O’Hara gets a little more runway here to show her range—also, Tim Curry as the creepy hotel manager was a welcome addition, although the decision to make him a creepy, willing sex offender who watches guests in the shower was certainly an interesting character choice. Man, you even had John Williams run it back—this was destined to be a commercial success.

On a very different note, Rob Schneider is just bad in everything and unredeemable. If you’re the type of person who looks back at Rob Schneider’s body of work in fondness or quotes his “making coffee!” SNL character, you need to reevaluate a lot of your life decisions.

You’re right, Ty. Besides giving us Donald J. Trump’s most nuanced performance ever, Home Alone 2 hardly does anything the original hasn’t already done better. Expanding the original’s run time by twenty minutes to create an absurdly padded 2 hour runtime, gives us a longer Pigeon Lady “meaning of Christmas” monologue and other things we really don’t need.

We get a couple of new things though. Catherine O’Hara is given more to do which goes as under appreciated as always. We get Gary Bamman’s Uncle Frank giving us his truly funniest moment – GET OUT OF HERE YOU NOSY LITTLE PERVERT, OR I’M GONNA SLAP YOU SILLY! We get more delicious cheese pizza representation. We get Tim Curry as a hilariously Tim Curry-esque hotel concierge, whose best scene banks on a previous scene with Gary Bamman’s Uncle Frank. We get more brutal traps set by Kevin. And we get a better moniker for the two crooks — Sticky Bandits > Wet Bandits.

Unlike you, I didn’t hate Rob Schneider here. He’s all right, he does what is required of this sort of underwritten and hokey kid’s movie side character. What I did really hate is the fact that last year they went to Paris for Christmas, and now they’re going to Florida? Ughhh, talk about a downgrade. Guess Peter didn’t get as much accounting business this year, and it probably doesn’t help matters he always has to pay for cheap ass Uncle Frank. I don’t know, I wish I had more to say about this movie but John Mulaney beat me to it. Rest up and get well, buddy.

Ella’s Review: I liked it!

Home Alone 3

directed by: Raja Gosnell ; screenplay by: John Hughes

starring: Alex D. Linz, Scarlett Johannson, Haviland Morris, Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny Von Dohlen, David Thornton, Kevin Kilner, Pat Healy.

runtime: 102 minutes

release date: December 12, 1997

other movies released this year: Boogie Nights, Titanic, L.A. Confidential, Waiting for Guffman, Jungle 2 Jungle, Tomorrow Never Dies, Batman & Robin, Flubber, Dante’s Peak, Volcano, Mouse Hunt, Good Will Hunting, Liar Liar, Anastasia, Seven Years in Tibet, The Devil’s Advocate, Hercules, Jackie Brown, Spawn, Gattaca, As Good as It Gets, Con Air, Face/Off, Donnie Brasco, Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion, Amistad.

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ty ; PURPLE = Ella

“You guys give up or are you thirsty for more?” – Kevin MacAllister, Home Alone 1

Nope, the insatiable studio heads at 20th Century Fox wanted more. More, more, more! More money! More booby traps! More villains! More violence! More, more, more, so they can make MORE money to buy MORE champagne to spray all over their BIG tits in their $$$MULTI-MILLION$$$ dollar homes. #MOREEVERTHING

Well, except more Macaulay, who basically built the entire franchise. I don’t blame them for that, he was 16 or 17 when they started shooting. Unless they wanted to take the franchise in a darker, more adult direction, but I totally understand the desire to keep the franchise with its target audience. They needed to re-cast. They needed new blood.

Enter Alex D. Linz who audiences might recognize as the titular character from the Disney’s Max Keeble’s Big Dick. He’s an absolutely horrendous child actor incapable of even the most basic of comedic facial expressions. He isn’t even cute or likeable, he has this unsettling, raspy voice that makes him sound like a 65-year-old man. Absolutely no energy, this kid. He’s paired with two parents that look like they’re in a Tylenol commercial and a surprisingly corpse-like Scarlett Johannsson, in her first role as Alex’s sister. However, the casting of the four villains is where the movie really falls apart.

Home Alone 3 ups the ante by adding two more robbers but lowers it six times over by having none of them be stars or celebrated character actors. We get the four least charismatic baddies in the entire franchise, only distinguishable in hairstyle and gender. On top of that, we get the worst old protector character of the series. In 1, we had that nice old sidewalk scraper and in 2 we got Brenda Fricker inexplicably covered in pigeon shit. Here we get a both cranky and nice, and very tired old neighbor woman that contradicts herself at every turn. And then in the end, the kid has to save her! What an old bitch!

The one thing I didn’t like about the first two, this movie does even harder — promote vigilante justice. The booby traps aren’t necessarily more lethal than the ones in the previous installments, but here there’s like twice or three times as many. They also really illustrate how police won’t help you (true in a lot of cases) and that it’s up to you to be super nosy, aggressive and potentially violent against suspicious neighbors, right at the top. Peppering in a healthy dose of xenophobia (North Korea, Russia) with world atrocities little kids should never have to think about (terrorism, microchips), this is the one installment that really would give that dick-twitchin’, NRA lovin’, Libertarian Covid-denier the jerk off fantasy they so desperately need, if only Alex D. Linz wasn’t so fucking stiff in the role.

This is an embarrassment. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, even as a joke. It’s excruciating punishment from a studio that would later be executed for its crimes, but really just acquired by Disney.

Before I go, I just wanted to point out something hilarious and racist in the movie. The North Korean crime lord is credited as “Chinese Crime Boss” in the end credits. What the literal fuck. Guess Asians are all the same according to 20th Century Fox. Ty, you loved this one right?

In any great disaster, you can almost pinpoint the moment things went wrong—the lookout aboard the Titanic spots an iceberg immediately ahead in the dead of night, Karri Strugg doesn’t achieve enough rotation off her floor vault and lands awkwardly on her ankle, federal agents swarm a militant compound in Waco, TX and issue demands for surrender. Home Alone 3 is the Lee Harvey Oswald of this franchise, leaning out of the sixth-floor window, rifle gleaming in the midday sun and sights targeted on the slow moving procession of movie goers who audibly laughed when Joe Pesci was hit in the balls with a crowbar and decided to roll the dice on another sequel. It was bad.

Immediately I have to point out that the main child actor had virtually no lines. I feel like the casting director just thought he was cute and precocious and was up against a deadline. Also, whose choice was it to give this kid visible chicken pox for the entire length of the film? The payoff for looking at this kid’s gross next the whole film, is, of course, the bandits get chicken pox. And that’s funny! 

The bandits in HA3 were easily the worst, most vapid characters in the entire series. They’re flat, boring, and just completely not fun. The exposition of the movie is basically trying to be a spy thriller and really revolve around how smart and conniving these… spies? Are they spies? are supposed to be. The Home Alone booby traps are legendary because it was fun to laugh at Harry and Marv—their reactions were sweeping and dramatic.

This movie is every bit as forgettable as a musty fart that slips out when you’re reaching for something at the back of the fridge in the morning. I absolutely loved it!

Ella’s Review: At times chaotic, at times a snooze. Never found the balance.

Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House

directed by: Rod Daniel ; screenplay by: Debra Frank, Steve L. Hayes

starring: Mike Weinberg, French Stewart, Missi Pyle, Erick Avari, Barbara Babcock, Joanna Going, Jason Beghe, Clare Carey.

runtime: 89 minutes (shortest entry)

release date: November 2, 2002 (ABC TV premiere)

other movies released this year: Halloween: Resurrection, Jason X, Blue Crush, Tuck Everlasting, Die Another Day, Spider-Man, Scooby Doo the Movie, The Hot Chick, Signs, 28 Days Later, Gangs of New York, Sweet Home Alabama, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Chicago, The Pianist, The Hours, Catch Me If You Can, The Ring, The Master of Disguise, Mr. Deeds, Minority Report, A Walk to Remember, Antwone Fisher

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ty ; PURPLE = Ella

Why. Just why. 

The first note I took about this movie was French Stewart specifically received first billing in the opening credits—production then specifies actors appear in alphabetical order because, hey, French Stewart might be an enigmatic mega star of the silver screen—but otherwise not here to play favorites.

Imagine going out of your way for French Stewart—like you accidentally ordered him a regular Coke instead of the Diet Coke he “explicitly asked for” and so you make a return trip to the convenience store to appease him. Imagine how many doors would need to close on you in life when you reach the point that your greatest priority is appeasing French Stewart. Did French Stewart just insist he receive top billing as part of his contract? Is he really this vain? French Stewart has drifted further away from cultural relevancy than Voyager 1 has away from Earth–someone recognizing him at a crowded restaurant in Los Angeles and saying “Hey, Third Rock guy!” seems like it qualifies as an act of kindness these days.

Anyway, French Stewart inexplicably reprises the role of Marv, Joe Pesci’s character, for some reason. This is not unlike hiring French Stewart to reprise the role of Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone—everything about this decision is wrong, you probably knew it the entire time and now the deep sense of shame is something you carry with you into bed each night. It’s like you started ordering the wrong thing at a restaurant, catch yourself, but feel so stupid and embarrassed that you finish ordering it anyway. When the meal finally comes, you have to confront your disappointment all over again—here is the French Stewart you ordered. Please enjoy him squinting, pouting, and vaguely resembling the guy from all those Ernest movies.

Look, I know there’s nothing impressive about delivering some scorched earth analysis on a movie like this, but we’ve all got a lot on our shoulders right now—completely unloading on Home Alone 4 is almost cathartic. I’ve got an axe to grind.

Rather hilariously, we are forced to accept Kevin’s parents are divorced now—okay, bucko? That shit is cannon. And guess what else: Kevin’s step-mom is mean! She has a lot of money and that automatically makes her a terrible person. Good luck to all the step-parents out there—if movies have taught me anything it’s that you’re abusive, addicted to alcohol, entirely materialistic, and otherwise lack any redeeming qualities. So what if you make my mom/dad happy—fuck off and stay out of my room.

The more I think about it, the more I think 4 had the worst Kevin. Actually, I’m positive this was the worst Kevin. 

This has to be the outright stupidest entry of the series, though it is much more enjoyable and lively than Home Alone 3. Headlining star French Stewart jumps into the franchise as an older? Marv (Daniel Stern’s character) but for some reason is dressed like Joe Pesci’s character. This makes no sense, actually none of the continuity from the first two movies makes any sense. You’d think that given this has happened to Kevin MacAllister two times before, his parents would finally believe him. You’d also think there would be a bigger revelation from French Stewart’s Marv of like “Oh shit, WTF? Every time I rob a house this fucking kid is here?!?!?!” You know, without the profanities. But no, everyone seems to accept this is randomly all happening a third time.

This one sort of starts out fun cause the house is a smart house and has all these neat (low-budget and awful) tricks, but it quickly devolves into a really sad examination of Kevin’s dad’s mid-life crisis. This slimy weasel is banging this selfish, completely oblivious to the world around her, rich woman, half his age, clearly suffering from unresolved daddy issues. My guess is she comes from family wealth, and her father was too busy making money to ever forge a real relationship with her. He died and she developed a thing for older dudes. I guess in an attempt to fill the hole he left with middle aged dicks. I mean, it’s not her fault, that’s all she knows. She’s been sheltered from the world around her, covered in a big blanket of money and always getting what she wants, at least materialistically. Kevin’s dad, however, shouldn’t be let off the hook. He is clearly the predator here, so wrapped up in his own bullshit he creates a situation where his children have to feel like some sort of third wheel, hanger-on at their own fucking Christmas. Awesome dude, hope the blowjobs are worth it! And then this bastard has the sack to pin his relationship issues on Kevin. Yeah, of course, it’s the kid’s fault. God! Wake up, you fucking loser.

What follows is a bunch of non-booby traps in an entry that feels the least Home Alone-y out of all the Home Alones, with a twist ending where the protector archetype ends up being French Stewart’s mom and the head bad guy. This is some dumb, forgettable shit, but I guess it’s what ABC holiday viewers wanted back in 2002.

Ella’s Review: Kudos to the cast and crew of Home Alone 4, who, despite the odds, managed to execute on their vision for another installment of this beloved franchise. The Sistine Chapel was not erected without a blemish or two—so too, this remarkable romp, perfect for the entire family. 

Home Alone 5: The Holiday Heist

directed by: Peter Hewitt ; screenplay by: Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre

starring: Christian Martyn, Malcolm McDowell, Debi Mazar, Eddie Steeples, Jodelle Ferland, Doug Murray, Ellie Harvie

runtime: 90 minutes

release date: November 25, 2012 (ABC Family Premiere)

other movies released this year: The Master, Zero Dark Thirty, Chronicle, Looper, Argo, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Life of Pi, Tangled, LOL, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, Skyfall, Mud, The Dark Knight Rises, That’s My Boy, The Place Beyond the Pines, Safe House, Killing Them Softly, Silver Linings Playbook, Room 237, The Act of Killing, Wrath of the Titans, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables, Jack Reacher, V/H/S

BLUE = Margetis ; RED = Ty ; PURPLE = Ella

Arriving ten years after the fourth one bungled some of the most beloved Christmas movie characters of all time, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist is back for redemption with new characters and no McCallister Redux. While it is most certainly an irredeemable piece of shit, the fifth Home Alone proves somewhat more engaging and less offensive than the last two entries.

What isn’t less offensive is the leading kid character, he’s got one of the most punchable faces in the industry. Add to that he’s a terrible little actor as is everyone in the movie that isn’t named Malcolm McDowell. Basically it’s about this family that moves into a mansion that used to be owned by a mobster and there’s this valuable piece of fart-ugly art tucked away in the basement. Enter three mismatched criminals searching for the piece – Malcolm McDowell, turning in the only credible but uninteresting performance as the lead baddie, Debi Mazar, who is inexplicably terrible as the “lady baddie” and Eddie Steeples, who is neither likeable or funny as the comic relief baddie. Add to that a guy who could make millions on Cameo as a Jason Bateman impersonator playing the dad and what I’m sure is the most difficult woman to work with in Iowa community theater playing the mom, and you got yourself Home Alone 5!

To the movie’s credit, it moves along at a fairly quick pace, barrel rolling to its ultimately unsatisfying but not jarringly bad finale. The adult guardian/helper character filled by the old shovel man in 1, bird shit lady in 2, cranky neighbor crone in 3 and plot twist head bad guy in 4, is represented with a fat, single adult gamer who plays Halo or something online with the main kid. He’s an affable idiot, although none of the humor involving him lands. I think the twist should have been that he’s a pedophile who orchestrated the whole thing to drive a frightened and vulnerable twelve year old into his predatory arms, but of course ABC Family isn’t brave enough to make a move like that.

Also, why the fuck was Ed Asner in it for like a second? He plays the mom’s boss who is throwing a Christmas party and then announces that, because of road closures, everyone has to stay at the company party for the next three days. Imagine being stuck at your office holiday party for three days. Sounds like a good alternative to watching Home Alone 3 again.

Being asked to write about a fifth Home Alone movie is akin to someone asking you for a drink of water while you’re stranded in the middle of a desert—or how the tree must have felt at the end of The Giving Tree. What else can you possibly say about a fifth Home Alone movie? Watching these sequels was a lot like paying my taxes every year—there is much variety to the process, I don’t particularly enjoy any of it,  and at multiple points I just feel angry and confused.

Mercifully, the bandits were almost bearable this time around. I don’t know. Maybe I was wearing a shirt I like when I watched this. Maybe I’d just been completely ruined by the third and fourth movies and my standards were impossibly low at this point—like I’d been on a long series of terrible/rude dates with the other Home Alone movies and this Home Alone stood out because he held the door open for me on our way into Texas Roadhouse—no, it’s not exactly impressive, but comparatively it just made all the difference. Good job, inoffensive HA5 bandits. 

Not that we should expect a deep character study from any of these movies, but I think it’s pretty hilarious both female bandits were essentially built around the premise of “I love my boyfriend” and had no other defining qualities. As a woman in the Home Alone universe, you are either a scatterbrained mom, a terrible sister/cousin, or a dumb criminal who can’t concentrate on the job because you’re constantly thinking about your boyfriend or complaining. Just incredible writing. On a totally unrelated note, I recently learned NASA provided Sally Ride, the first female astronaut, with 100 tampons for a week long space flight. That is approximately 14.2857143 tampons per daily use. I’m almost positive whichever male made that call was a writing consultant for Home Alone 5.

I guess the moral of the story is video games make you a fat loser, but if you’re nice to 12-year-olds you meet online—instead of verbally carpet bombing them over physical relations they’ve had with their moms—they may in turn share their own profound wisdom about the importance of family. I’m honestly not sure. Video game neck beard guy got a raw deal in general. Also, I can’t believe this movie had what was essentially a swatting joke—I guess being murdered by the police was just funnier back in 2012.

They must have hours of B roll footage of store brand Jason Bateman, just hamming it up for the crew. I like to think that he quietly assumed Home Alone 5 was to be a star making vehicle for him—the one IMDB credit that finally helped him break that glass ceiling as a struggling actor whose Google calendar was a barren wasteland of callback auditions for local television commercials, the move that put him on course to be interviewed by a shiny and manic Mario Lopez on the Oscars red carpet. 

I’m not sure if watching these later installments sullied my opinion of the first couple movies. I’m having some kind of PTSD. I need to lay down.

ELLA: Cool!


TY PITCH The GUN — Kevin finds his dad’s gun and shoots the robber in the heart, killing him/her instantly. He later cites a deeply problematic ‘stand your ground’ law in his self-defense.

MARG PITCH – THE PEDO-MAKER — Kevin puts down a glue trap that sticks the burglar’s feet to the ground. When the burglar cries out, that triggers a voice automated Robot Dog to approach the burglar and shoot a fishing hook at the burglar’s pants. Once hooked, the dog will run in the opposite direction, both pulling the burglar’s pants down and triggering a motion activated camera that will take a picture of the burglar’s face and naked genitals while Kevin, jumping up from the loose floorboards to the right of the burglar, will pose next to him. CHEESE! The photo will then be e-mailed to the Chicago Police Department.

ELLA PITCH The TRASH TRUCK — You put on Trash Truck on Netflix and you fall asleep smiling.


The original is a classic and I’m always surprised how mediocre the second one is comparatively. Still, both are masterpieces compared to three stinkquels that followed. Overall, this is a pretty desperate franchise that never should have developed past the second installment. Grade: C

Final Ranking:

  1. Home Alone (8/10)
  2. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (6/10)
  3. Home Alone 5: The Holiday Heist (3/10)
  4. Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (2/10)
  5. Home Alone 3 (1/10)

Home Alone 1 was lightning in a bottle that I continually appreciate as I get older. For the sake of its legacy, its a good thing the majority of people don’t know how bad the subsequent sequels were.

Final Ranking:

  1. Home Alone (7/10)
  2. Home Alone 2 (6/10)
  3. Home Alone 5: The Holiday Heist (3/10)
  4. Home Alone 3 (2/10)
  5. Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (1/10)


Final Ranking

  1. Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (Threeve/10)
  2. Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (laughter)
  3. Home Alone (Kevin)
  4. Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (screaming)
  5. Trash Truck on Netflix (big smile)

On the next Franchise with Me

My writer/comedian/Twitter SuperStar pal Audrey Farnsworth joins me to ingest the six, yes 6!!!, Step Up movies. The last one is set in China.

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