HOME SWEET HOME ALONE Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace is thirsty for more.
Like many, I felt trepidation when it was announced that there would be a remake of Home Alone for Disney+. We’ve been burned enough by the concept that it was fair to be concerned about the butchering of a sacred cow. Imagine my surprise, then, when I watched Home Sweet Home Alone and found that it was essentially a Christmas-themed remake of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite with the sociopathic humor of The Hitman’s Bodyguard made suitable for children.

It is occasionally remarked, accurately, that the large home that Kevin McCallister lives in is now simply no longer affordable for most Americans. It feels to me as if the writers of this film were taking notes from this commentary, as the entire plot is a meditation on the economic precarity felt by so many in America today. Your villains are not lumpenproletarians, as the antagonists in the original were. Here, they are downwardly mobile husband and wife, Jeff (Rob Delaney) and Pam (Ellie Kemper) McKenzie with two children and a house in the suburbs of Chicago that they are forced to sell because Jeff has lost his job. Through a strange sequence of events involving a bathroom break and a rare doll, they become convinced that ten year old Max Mercer (Archie Yates) has the solution to their financial woes.

As you’d expect from a Home Alone movie, Max has been left alone in his palatial home by a large family that leaves him behind accidentally as they all fly off to Tokyo. Max is a nerdy kid, made more endearingly abrasive in his status as a Richie Rich-style upper-class enfant terrible. There is a resentment in his character due to his status as the child everyone ignores; when he finds himself alone in such a large house, he rejoices, doing all the silly things that children do when they have a house to themselves.

One of the things that is so striking to me about Home Sweet Home Alone is how it updates the formula of the original movie for the twenty-first century. In the climactic battle of traps and Codename: Kids Next Door-style improvised weaponry, Max makes full use of things like virtual assistants, virtual reality headsets, and modern security systems in his attempts to withstand the McKenzies’ siege of his home.

Making the siege far more impactful than it otherwise would have been is the motivations of all involved. I will not spoil it, but there is a desperation in everyone’s conduct that is for all sides completely justifiable and also immensely destructive, to each other and to Max’s home. The whole plot is a result of the very real economic precarity and common cruelty to working people that exists in America today, and for that, the film hits hard. Home Sweet Home Alone is a tragicomedy of American precarity that has disguised itself in the clothing of a classic Christmas film. It is a film driven by scared people doing stupid things due to a refusal to communicate or to show clemency to other humans. Like it or not, in the year of our Lord 2021, that is all too common. It well and truly is a Christmas movie for our times, as unpleasant as that is to contemplate.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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