Home Alone 3 - *

Well, they’ve managed to squeeze a second sequel out of the slightly humorous but monotonous Home Alone. I, for one, was hoping the series would die a peaceful death after Home Alone 2. Heck, Macaulay Culkin was almost sporting stubble in that one…surely he couldn’t reprise his role yet again. But then those evil movie producers pulled a “James Bond” and subbed tyke Alex D. Linz in the title role. Argh…this series could go on forever.

Even more so than with Home Alone 2 (which was nearly a carbon copy of the original), Home Alone 3’s plot is completely lifted from the original. I mean, the only things that changed here are the actors. At least #2 had a location shoot.

You’ve got the wiseacre 8 year old, Alex Pruitt (Linz), who is stuck home with the chicken pox. Unlike the previous two films, he’s not actually abandoned by his parents…well, not completely. His father, Jack (Kevin Kilner), makes a brief appearance, then has to run on an out-of-town business trip. His working mother, Karen (Haviland Morris), tries to stay at home, but several important meetings call her away at just the exact times when the baddies make their moves…how convenient!

Even the supporting characters are pale copies of those from the original films. There’s the grumpy neighbor who isn’t as mean as she seems, Mrs. Hess (Marian Seldes), in the Roberts Blossom/Brenda Fricker role. And, of course, you’ve got the cruel siblings: Molly (Scarlett Johansson) and Stan (Seth Smith). This time, Alex is joined by two pets: a rat and a loquacious parrot, both of which are smarter than nearly all the humans around.

The bad guys this time are an international smuggling ring, who are after a top secret microchip which has fallen into Alex’s hands. However, they only know it is somewhere on the street, so they begin searching the houses while the families are away. The group is led by Petr Beaupre (Olek Krupa), and includes Jernigan the technical genius (Lenny von Dohlen), Alice Ribbons (Rya Kihlstedt), and resident quipster Earl Unger (David Thornton).

There’s not much you expect out of a Home Alone film (or one of its many clones), except lots and lots of comic violence. The first one was a change of pace, and even somewhat fresh. It played like a live action Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Yet this time around, the whole thing feels stale and formulaic.

Stripping the film of its context in history, would it be any better? It might be, but only slightly. The film lacks the simplicity with which the first film carefully tiptoed between reality and fantasy. The whole production is overwrought and overwritten.

At least the first film had some decent actors: Catherine O’Hara, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, and, yes, even the early Macaulay Culkin, when his head was still uninflated. This time around, the actors are mere objects upon which Alex’s incredibly convoluted Rube Goldbergian deathtraps can do their stuff. Alex is the only real character in the film, and the script sticks him with such obvious precocious dialogue that he begins to grate on the nerves almost instantaneously.

Was a sequel really necessary for Home Alone? No. Were two? Definitely not. In order for a film to have a good sequel, there’s got to be something more…something which was left out of the original that can be expanded upon in the followup. Home Alone 3 is less of a sequel than a remake…and a poor one at that.

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