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The Best And Worst Things In Home Sweet Home Alone

"Home Sweet Home Alone" is the sixth film in the "Home Alone" franchise, if you can fathom that. Though it tries to put its own spin on the Christmas classic, this latest installment still follows in the same footsteps as the original film. For those who want to see something truly new, that might be disappointing. On the other hand, if you're the type of person who watches the same movies every holiday season, "something new" doesn't matter all that much — and no matter where you stand, there are good and bad aspects of "Home Sweet Home Alone."

The Christmas comedy follows Max Mercer (Archie Yates), a 10-year-old who's inadvertently left behind by his family during the holidays when they go on vacation. Pam and Jeff (Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney), a financially strapped married couple, invade Max's home in search of a prized possession that can relieve their money troubles.

The premise of "Home Alone" is a parent's worst nightmare. After all, leaving your child at home and then said child being harassed by robbers is as sinister as it gets. Yet when this takes place during the holidays, sprinkled with movie magic, it all works out in the end –– well, unless you're the bandits, that is. Here's a look at the best and worst things in "Home Sweet Home Alone."

Best: The all-star cast

Though Archie Yates, who plays Max, steals the show, it's probably hard for audience members not to get excited about the other cast members — most notably Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney. Kemper and Delaney are a comedy duo worth cheering for, even as their characters make the catastrophically poor decisions that drive the plot.

Also joining the cast is Kenan Thompson as a realtor named Gavin, Aisling Bea as Carol Mercer, loving mother to Max, and Pete Holmes as Blake Mercer, Max's father. Andy Daly plays Mike, Ally Maki plays Mei, Chris Parnell plays Uncle Stu, and Mikey Day plays the Priest. Rounding out the cast is Timothy Simons, who plays Hunter. As you might guess after reading that all of these wonderful actors have roles in the rollercoaster ride that's "Home Sweet Home Alone," few of the stars are used to their full potential — yet featuring them all in the same movie is still a win for everyone involved.

Worst: Jeff and Pam try to sell their home without telling their kids

Though Jeff and Pam are played by very talented actors, the characters make some pretty questionable decisions in "Home Sweet Home Alone." Up there with some of their poorest choices is not telling their kids that they're selling their home –– because they can no longer afford it. We get it: It's best to keep their children in the dark and blissfully unaware when it comes to the family's finances. But they have potential buyers coming in and out of their home, not to mention a realtor is always around. And all these events take place before Jeff and Pam consider telling their kids that they need to move.

Though it's best for the adults to make these financial decisions, not giving their children the opportunity to have a say in the matter is just one faulty aspect of Pam and Jeff's decision to sell their home.

Best: Everyone making fun of Rob Delaney's character

It's no fun being picked on in real life, but Rob Delaney plays a very entertaining human punching bag in "Home Sweet Home Alone." His character, Jeff, is typically the target of the jokes in the movie, yet he handles it well — and amusingly, thanks to Delaney's comedic charm. Even Max — who is, reminder, a 10-year-old kid — picks on Jeff at the beginning of the film by comparing him to Frankenstein. (Jeff corrects Max by saying he probably means Frankenstein's monster, not Frankenstein, who was the mad scientist. Classic Jeff.)

Delaney is a 6-foot-3 teddy bear and the filmmakers lean wholeheartedly into this for his "Home Sweet Home Alone" character. All the main characters have their moments, and Delaney's Jeff is no exception. He's even good-natured enough to wear a Santa suit. Who can truly dislike a person in a Santa suit?

Worst: Pam and Jeff's snobby relatives

Pam and Jeff's relatives, Mei and Hunter, are the types of people who brag about their wealth and buy extravagant presents for people less monetarily fortunate than they are ... just to show how rich they are. They do basically this in "Home Sweet Home Alone," even showing up at Jeff and Pam's house in the middle of the night –– around the holidays –– as if Jeff and Pam didn't have enough problems. The nerve of some people.

Mei and Hunter's kid is spoiled beyond belief — and he steals Jeff and Pam's priceless heirloom. Of course, if he didn't take it, then the movie wouldn't have lasted long because the couple would have sold the doll and then paid off their home –– yet they think Max took it, and this misunderstanding leads to a wild adventure. When Jeff and Pam discover that Mei and Hunter's kid, not Max, has the doll, he responds by throwing it off the top of a flight of stairs –– at which point it's luckily saved by Max. Naturally, the self-involved Hunter says his kid saved the day.

Best: Bringing back Buzz McCallister as a police officer

Franchise installments don't necessarily have to nod to the movies they're connected to, but it's usually an easy way to curry favor with the audience. "Home Sweet Home Alone" achieves this by bringing back Buzz McCallister (Devin Ratray) as a police offer. In case audience members don't remember — "Home Alone" was released more than three decades ago, after all — in the original movie and its first sequel, Buzz is older brother to main character Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin.

Bringing back Ratray to reprise his role as an adult Buzz McCallister not only rewards fans but lets them know that "Home Sweet Home Alone" takes place in the same universe as the original "Home Alone" movies. Though Buzz's time on the screen is short, it lasts long enough to fit in a joke about how Buzz believes his brother is pranking him — one of the better bits in "Home Sweet Home Alone."

Worst: Jeff not finding a job to help support his family

We're not trying to pick on Jeff (okay, maybe just a little), though the film's creators obviously settled on him as an easy target. Yet his failure to find a job to help support his family is a weak move on his part. He's not the first person to struggle to find work, but he's not willing to take a "lesser role" or change careers. He's in a dying profession. His inability to adapt puts all the financial pressure on his wife, who's a teacher, and that isn't how you go about being an adult — especially when you have a family and a mortgage.

Jeff is a data migration manager and blames not being able to find a job on "the cloud," a joke that's semi-funny the first time it's mentioned, but quickly becomes grating as the family continues to blame his career woes on this sole factor. Luckily, Jeff eventually lands a job, but not before he almost gets himself and his wife killed while breaking into someone else's home and fighting with a child. It's played for laughs, but ultimately, Jeff and Pam break into a home instead of focusing on him getting a job to help support his family.

Best: Attempting to be funnier than the original

The premise of "Home Alone" is actually pretty dark. A family forgets to bring their child on a vacation with them during Christmastime. The child is then harassed by burglars. It wouldn't seem to lend itself to a holiday classic, but it works — and "Home Sweet Home Alone" takes that same premise and tries to make it funnier by adding talented comedians. To lighten up the darker elements, in this film, the professional burglars are replaced by a non-threatening married couple.

In the original film, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern play the criminal duo known as the Wet Bandits (later renamed the Sticky Bandits). They aren't good people. In "Home Sweet Home Alone," Jeff and Pam are portrayed as nice people who are just in a terrible situation. There are slapstick elements in both films –– most notably, when the intruders are being harmed after breaking into a home –– yet "Home Sweet Home Alone" focuses on all-out comedy from the start.

That said, making some of the set pieces even more far-fetched than the original doesn't always land. For example, Max drops soda bottles (whose ingredients have been mixed with Mentos) from his balcony and they magically sail directly toward Pam. It's all a little too convenient, and it undermines the humor.

Worst: Taking too long to get started

"Home Sweet Home Alone" takes a long time to get going, only to end up copying the events of the original film. 

Jeff and Pam are broke. They need money. They find out they have a doll that's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. They think Max took the doll from them, though they don't have proof. So they eventually try to take it back by entering Max's house and stealing it. Unfortunately, it takes most of the film to get to this point, and the whole movie is only around 90 minutes long.

If you've seen any of the "Home Alone" films, then you likely have a good idea where "Home Sweet Home Alone" is going to go –– at some point, a child is going to be left home alone, no matter where home is, and someone's going to try to break in. There's no reason to be stingy with the part of the plot everyone's expecting, and some audience members may grow restless as they're waiting for the action to get started.

Best: The overall message

"Home Sweet Home Alone" is gift-wrapped in a sentimental message that anyone watching should be able to appreciate, especially during the holidays. Max is left at home ... alone ... and he loves it at first. Yet he realizes that, despite the initial fun of having the house all to himself, he's lonely because his family isn't with him. Meanwhile, Jeff and Pam are on the verge of losing their house, which they naturally associate with home as they have countless cherished memories there. It's the place where they started their family, after all.

Yet Max, Jeff, and Pam simultaneously conclude that home doesn't feel like home without your family and that home is just another word for family. While home can certainly be a physical place, said place just doesn't feel the same when you're not in the company of the people you love. Whether the film sticks the landing or not, the message is pure.

Worst: Pam and Jeff break into a house and traumatize a kid

It's great that Pam and Jeff finally realize the true meaning of home, yet they don't come to this realization until after they go from the heads of a perfectly "normal" family into criminals. In the real world, they would have faced legal action, to say the least. Yet in this holiday-themed universe, Pam and Jeff's sins are forgiven and they get to right their wrongs — wrongs that could've easily landed them in jail. All the bad stuff that Pam and Jeff are involved in is glossed over and they return to their lives –– only things are better than ever for them as Jeff has a job, they keep their home, and they gain new friends.

Going into a movie, especially one that has slapstick elements, audience members should expect far-fetched situations. But the fact that Pam and Jeff don't get in trouble and in fact became friends with the family of the child they traumatized is totally bizarre. Happy holidays, we guess?

Best: Max steals the show

Max is similar to Kevin, the hero of the first two films in the "Home Alone" franchise — both characters are sassy, creative, and funny. Max, who's played by British child actor Archie Yates, squares off against Pam and Jeff, who are played by well-established actors Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney. Yet Yates manages to hold his own throughout the movie. Considering that Max is virtually the same character as Kevin, and "Home Alone" was a huge hit that millions of people still watch every year, Yates had some pretty big shoes to fill.

Although it could be argued that most of the members of this movie's talented adult ensemble really don't even have enough screen time to steal the show from their young lead, Yates really carries "Home Sweet Home Alone." Max is presented as a spoiled, resourceful child of privilege –– and, well, Yates kind of nails it.

Worst: No Macaulay Culkin

Many viewers watching "Home Sweet Home Alone" will likely go in hoping there's a chance to see Macaulay Culkin as an older version of Kevin, the main character of the first two films. But while we do hear Buzz mention Kevin, Culkin isn't in the film. The new film takes place in the same universe as the original, but as fun as it might have been, bringing back Kevin couldn't have been much more than a play on nostalgia, and it's probably for the best that Culkin's character isn't seen.

It's tough to pull off a movie like "Home Sweet Home Alone." The creators have to call back to the original while also putting a unique spin on the story. It's hard to surpass something that's already been done, especially when it's considered a holiday classic. "Home Sweet Home Alone" is far from perfect, but it does have its moments — and taken on its own merits, it's an entertaining holiday comedy that features talented actors worth watching.