The Glue That Held the Home Alone Franchise Together – Macaulay Culkin

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Home Alone is an absolute holiday classic. The franchise has several movies, some garnered an immense following and Box Office success. However, there were some Home Alone movies that we don’t even know about because they were not received with the same enthusiasm. 

If you want to watch the Home Alone movies once more for some context or if you haven’t seen them before, you can find all of them on Disney Plus. You can get a subscription to Disney Plus via Cox Internet. You can have an uninterrupted streaming experience with Cox with the wall-to-wall coverage they provide.

So, what happened here? How did this once box office juggernaut fall off a cliff and into this abysmal run of totally forgettable straight-to-video releases that missed the mark by nearly every metric? Let’s find out in this post.

  1. Home Alone

The first Home Alone film was a critical and commercial success. The film had a unique and original premise that effectively took the excitement of a big-budget action film and distilled it into a family-friendly comedy about a child protecting his home from two burglars.

Home Alone is a great movie. It seamlessly blends humor and heartwarming emotions with low-budget action set pieces, all while telling an endearing story about the importance of family and home that is accessible to pretty much any viewer of any age. This translated to Home Alone generating $476.7 Million at the box office. 

If you adjust that number four inflation, it would be the same as grossing over $1 billion by today’s box office standards. These are not numbers that get ignored. So of course, a sequel was greenlit almost immediately. 

  1. Home Alone; Lost in New York 

The film was released in 1992, and once again, audiences lined up for another holiday adventure in hopes of it capturing the same magic as the original film. For the most part, Home Alone 2 does a pretty decent job of holding up next to its predecessor.

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Some might argue that Home Alone 2 is a bit of an unrealistic retread of the original film, but thanks to Macaulay Culkin’s magnetically likable personality and uncanny comedic timing, he’s able to carry this film to similar heights of success.

The film relies a bit too heavily on recycling old bits to varying degrees of success, but it seems to follow the model of if it’s working, you don’t need to fix it. Where the first film spends the inaugural 20 minutes setting up family dynamics, defining relationships, and cementing thematic elements.

Home Alone 2 sets up plot devices and gimmicks while serving up second beats of jokes we have already seen and heightening characters we already know. The film sidesteps too many necessary components to make it a great film. 

The McAllisters learned nothing from forgetting their child in the first film and losing them again in an airport, Kevin learns nothing about the appropriate thing for a minor to do when separated from his family, and Harry and Marv learn nothing about Kevin McAllister’s superhuman understanding of applied physics.

Since nobody has learned anything, we aren’t necessarily as invested as we need to be as the film’s story plays out. Despite all of its flaws, this film was another home run at the box office and was able to generate a sizable return of about $ 358 million in 1992.

  1. Home Alone 3

Macaulay Culkin wasn’t returning for a third foray into the world of makeshift home security systems, and the studio had to seek out a child performer who could effectively fill Macaulay Culkin’s shoes–something that just isn’t possible.

What John McClane is to Die Hard, Kevin McCallister is to Home Alone. And not having him involved in a Home Alone film doesn’t make sense. Home Alone 3 is a stand-alone film, and it’s wholly unrelated to the first two films. There isn’t even a nod to them.

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It’s just an entirely new film that uses the same formula but it fails on almost every front. It seems like the intent behind making it was just to get to the hijinks as fast as possible without laying any of the necessary groundwork to tell us why we should care. The plot just focuses primarily on injuring four criminals who are about as threatening as a bowl of cereal in wild and outlandish ways.

There’s no heart, there’s no charm, and there’s certainly no Macaulay Culkin. Alex D. Linz is a cute kid, but it really starts and stops there. It’s not that he’s necessarily a bad performer. He just doesn’t have that gravitational charm that’s present in Macaulay Culkin’s performance.

Home Alone 3 struggled with almost the same problems as Home Alone 2, but it adds insult to injury by attempting to effectively reboot the franchise. This film never even hit theaters. It was released as a made-for-TV movie, and it feels lackluster even by those standards. The plot is a convoluted mess.

  1. Home Alone; The Holiday Heist

You would think that after two colossal failures Home Alone would finally rest in peace. But in , Disney tried to breathe new life into the franchise with Home Alone; The Holiday Heist another made-for-TV movie, and not even the somewhat startling inclusion of a classically trained actor like Malcolm McDowell could save it.

Kevin’s family is going through a divorce, and his dad has a new rich girlfriend, Marv is the primary antagonist, but they recast him with French Stewart. This was an even bigger mistake to think that another performer could have stepped into the role of Kevin McCallister. There’s none of that sly, impish wit that we all came to love from Macaulay Culkin’s performance.

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Again, this film runs into the same problem. It tries to take a cute kid, criminals, and pranks, and make a movie without doing any labor whatsoever in telling us why we should care.

  1. Home Sweet Home Alone

Another attempt to revive Home Alone came last year with this Disney+ original film. This film ignores the latter three films in the series and instead serves as a sequel to the original films. This is supported by the inclusion of Buzz McAllister, who has gone on to become a police officer, and several homes in the area are protected by McAllister Home Security.

The film extends within the same world. The villains are an improvement. Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney bring some established comedic chops into play, and Archie Yates is an incredibly endearing performer who comes into the franchise after a breakout performance in Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. In this film, the narrative gets flipped on its head. Instead of burglars coming in to steal from a family, it’s the protagonist who steals from the burglars. They’re trying to retrieve their stolen property.

Summing Up

Home Alone was built upon the foundation of thematic elements of togetherness, individuality, and what it means to be part of a family. Instead of embracing those themes, the franchise centered on the elaborate hijinx and comedy to grab the viewer’s attention.

This is fine if you are a six-year-old, but it doesn’t create a viewing experience that everyone can necessarily enjoy. There’s nothing for us to latch on to emotionally, and thus we have no reason to care.

Additionally, without a charismatic performer like Macaulay Culkin in the driver’s seat of a primary protagonist, these lackluster scripts never deliver enough charm to keep an ever-evolving movie-going audience engaged.